Most women I know underestimate how strong they really are.
As I speak with women (and even men!), hearts open and tales pour out—tales of abuse, neglect, lack, frustration, missed opportunities, lost love, and setbacks. Yet through it all, the individuals who own these courageous stories have survived, and lived to fight another day.
The very fact that these women are sitting with me, sharing those stories, is a testament to their warrior woman spirit. Yet a consistent theme comes up over and over again:
“Lisa Maria, I’ve survived so much. But I don’t feel like I’m really thriving. Every day is still a struggle.”
I can relate to that sentiment.
For many years of my life, I had no idea how much emotional wreckage I was surviving on a day-to-day basis. Every forward gain I made, I had to fight tooth-and-nail to achieve. The setbacks just kept coming. And I just kept going.
I thought that one day, my ability to endure, persevere and withstand all that life threw at me would help me get to the top. In reality, it seemed to keep me quite a few rungs below where I wanted to be …. and things never seemed to get better.
I thought for sure that survival behavior was a necessity that came from outside circumstances. Only later did I realize survival behavior could also be driven by internal expectations.
One day, I understood that my survivor’s spirit—once highly useful—was now actually be the reason I was remaining stuck. It was no longer an aid to my freedom.
As courageous and admirable and necessary as it can be to tap into survival instincts in certain seasons… surviving is a fundamentally a struggle-based behavior.
Here I was, trying to stop the struggle, while still struggling. I wanted ease, flow and natural receiving in this new season of my life. Survivor behavior, I realized, was the antithesis of the more easeful reality I wanted to inhabit.
Doing the opposite of what I wanted was merely getting me more of … what I didn’t want.
But why does this happen?
1. Survivor behavior says, “The world is not safe.”
Survival behaviors don’t surface for no reason. Very likely, you needed to survive some events, people, experiences and emotions earlier in life because they were fundamentally unsafe. Often as women, our earliest “unsafe experiences” happened in childhood—when we were incapable of control who came into our space, or what environment we inhabited.
Since then, because our default expectations were set to “danger,” we have continued to find ourselves attracting “dangerous” people, and ending up in “dangerous” situations. That’s what our childhood brain was normed to expect. When you as an empowered adult women, then, decide you want to create a safe reality for yourself, it can be difficult at the outset. You’re simply not programmed to attract that reality.
2. Survivor behavior assumes that resources are limited.
Survival behaviors may not always be tied to physical or emotional danger. They may be tied to a perception that physical resources, love, safety or other emotionally desirable commodities are limited.
Again, childhood is often the first time we experience “not having enough” or listen to adults in our lives carelessly express their own anxieties and fears about the limitation of resources, broken relationships or other realities we were too young to process safely. We imbibed these beliefs. As a result, we believe we have to struggle to get what we want — and so we do. And because this is the default pattern, we must consciously undo it in order to enter a space where we can naturally thrive.
3. Survivor behavior comes from masculine, not feminine, energy.
Men are the original survival machines. Though all men have both masculine and feminine energies and behaviors, most men are weighted to operate more from the masculine—which means they are wired to fight, pursue, and win what they want.
Men often pride themselves on surviving horrendous experiences, or even just surviving a bad day at the office. (I once had a man in my life who was proud to say, “I survived!” all the time … as if he’d won something simply because he went through some pain to get it. That’s masculine energy for you.)
But that’s not how women are wired. (And as I mentioned above, healthy masculine menknow how to tap into this alternative energetic pattern, as well.) Feminine energy is much more about receiving, flowing, and connecting. As a woman, if you want to become a thriver… not just a survivor… you’re going to have to disconnect from the fundamentally masculine energy you’ve been operating in, and reconnect to your feminine. You have to reorient your thinking and behaviors toward ease, which will then result in emotions of confidence and safety.
4. Survivor behavior distracts you from what’s flowing into your space.
Survivors in the middle of surviving have tunnel vision—and for good reason. When you’re giving everything you’ve got to stay ahead of a major threat, you’ve got to get radically focused.
The problem becomes when you remain in this turned-on, tuned-up state long after the danger has passed. You’re still acting, thinking and feeling about one thing and one thing only … which keeps you from seeing what God wants to bless you with elsewhere.
Feminine energy (see #3) …. available to people of both genders … is all about relaxing into your environment and staying connected to the signals all around you, feeling the movement of energy in your own life and following that current. If you’re in tunnel-vision mode, you’re naturally going to miss any signal that’s not in your narrow range of vision. In order to thrive, you’ll need to disconnect from the perceived threat (now long since passed) and open yourself up to stimuli across your entire life.
Wow, that’s a lot!! Does it feel overwhelming?
As you read this, are you thinking, “Lisa, I understand all of this, but I have no idea how to do any of it”? If so, you’re in good company.
Several years ago I recognized how much I was operating in a survival mentality—and living a crisis-to-crisis lifestyle that reflected that mentality.
It took me time, gentleness, a lot of self-love and a willingness to re-assess and transition out of my deepest-held beliefs, into new ones. As I surrendered to this beautiful process in my soul, I found that I was finally ready to shift out of surviving and into thriving.
Once I did, I had a lot more love, joy, peace, and relaxation in my life. And the things I needed and wanted naturally started coming to me.
This is possible for you, too!
I’d love to speak one-on-one with you and help you assess where you may be stuck in your journey from surviving to thriving … so we can create a custom plan to freedom just for you.
Click here for more information on scheduling your session.
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What are you feeling as you read this? Share in the comments below!
Want to get out of survival mode and into thriving mode? I can help you fully “renew your mind” (Rom 12:2) and receive heart healing, so that you can walk in prosperity, love, and other good gifts without fear, shame, guilt or self-sabotaging behaviors. Learn more about private coaching here.
Reach out to me directly via my contact page.