This past year has been a lesson in thrival. Yes, I have just invented a word. From survive and survival we go to thrive and “thrival.”
This time last year instead of setting new year’s resolutions as I would normally, I set the intention to thrive. 2019 was going to be the year I stepped out of my kick-ass survival boots and replaced them with comfortable thrival shoes.
It’s been interesting, because in setting that intention all my survival moves have been challenged.
February proved a jumping off point, first because I was re-introduced to the work of neuro-scientist and author, Dr. Joe Dispenza, who challenged me, through video and the written word, to fire and re-wire neural pathways in my brain. Basically, to replace old thought habits with new ones so I could create my desired reality based on new, more holistic information, rather than continue to struggle (a survival mode strategy) doing it based on old patterns of being. So illuminating!
He then challenged me to raise my awareness by starting each day with a 20-minute meditation. (“Rest and Renew” on YouTube). I’d meditated before but not with the commitment I now felt to thrival. So,I turned my Ikea footstool into a meditation spot and made it a practice to go their early every morning to quiet my mind and connect to my heart. With each passing day it became easier. In fact, I looked forward to it and enjoyed it so much that it very quickly it became a habit, one I’ve committed to every day to help establish and maintain equanimity. It has served me well. Getting into thrival mode has created a good deal of chaos as the people and feelings that were a product of my survival scurry out of my life. It’s like I just don’t have room for them anymore and somehow they know it.
Believe me, it’s a thing. Look at the people around you. Are they a crutch in your desperate need to survive and let you down when you don’t fulfill their agenda, or do they lift you up to a higher understanding of yourself and support you in your quest to thrive, no strings attached? There is a difference, and I learned that in spades this year.
Indignation be gone!
Part of my learning has been understanding the part indignation has played in my survival strategy. Indignation, or reacting in the heat of the moment, is rarely our friend. How often has someone or something annoyed you so much in the moment that you’ve risen to defend yourself against a perceived injustice and then regretted it? Or it backfires on you?
For me it was another moment last February when my husband and I were walking on our property and watching one of the current trainer’s horses making a meal of a spruce tree in its paddock. Horses don’t eat trees unless they’re hungry. It was mid morning and as I looked around the snow-covered paddock I noticed there wasn’t a speck of hay to be found. My back was instantly up. Horses need access to hay when there is no grass. Without realizing it I started ranting at my husband about winter turnout and how horses need hay and why don’t these horse people know this, and on and on. When he’d finally had enough, and after I’d texted the person in charge in as calm a voice as I could muster (please give this horse some hay so she’ll stop eating our tree) he forced me to look at myself and my reaction. Why was I so quick to react instead of simply observe and then respond? Why was I so hot under the collar about something that a simple conversation could fix?
This new awareness gave rise to a personal commitment to get ahead of this triggered reaction. Over time I realized that my indignation was born of a sense of injustice and this was related to the survival mode in which I’d been living my entire life. With years of therapy under my belt I already knew the whys and wherefores, now I needed to deal with the ingrained coping mechanism ~ the propensity to lash out to protect my personal and emotional space.
So, it’s been interesting. With lots of triggers on and off the farm this year, never mind out in in the world-at-large, I have had to learn to get in front of my reactions. To take stock of the moment and choose my response rather than get lost in my reaction. Wow, is that ever hard. But it’s been such a valuable lesson. I now know the moment my indignation is about to rise. I can feel it first in my chest like a thud. And then my mind clicks in and the wheels start to turn and my heart rate elevates and my mind spins and … and … and … if I don’t get ahead of it BOOM! it’s out there. And the funny thing is, it’s no kind of release, it just ramps things up even worse so that in the end I’m actually doubting what I did and then beating myself up for being reactive. In the end, I lose!
Observe . Breathe . Wait
Getting ahead of my reactions means observing, breathing and waiting. When I wait I give myself time to even consider whether or not I want to dignify the perceived offense or injustice with a response. I give myself the choice of ignoring it or responding to it later from a more solid, less volatile place. One of my strategies is to write everything down to get it out of my system. Journaling. A personal record from the heart that I can then put away and not think about again unless given a very specific reason, say, as evidence. (It also provides great resource material for other writing projects.)
You see, to live in thrival mode we must release all the survival instincts that have kept us stuck in old patterns of behaviour and re-program our vast intelligence to function more efficiently and dynamically. Interestingly, living in thrival mode is less energy sapping than survival. In survival mode we’re always alert and waiting for the other shoe to drop and believe me, that’s an exhausting and debilitating way to live. The Complex-PTSD and adrenal issues I’ve experienced did not appear by accident. However, in thrival mode we have the option to live a more edifying and enjoyable life without placing conditions on everything and everyone to be exactly as we need them to be so we can survive. Isn’t that the bane of our world right now? The fact that many of our leaders are so burrowed down in survival and fear that they must control everything to the point of utter destruction in order to make themselves feel better and more in control?
Thrival is impossible as long as we allow ourselves to be influenced and buried in the deep fear and survival mentalities of people we can’t control. This has proven a difficult challenge for me. Survival mode made me a terrible control freak and I’m still working on letting this part go, but at least I’m aware of it. At least I can get ahead of my negative momentum and stop it before it impacts another. I can thrive on my own terms, in my own happy heart, and there’s nothing you or anyone else has to do to make it happen.
In thrival mode, we claim our power at no one’s expense. In survival mode our power flails to the detriment of all.
As we head into 2020 I set my intention to Thrive 2.0. The next, more advanced level of living a full life ~ flourishing, growing, prospering. Even more comfortable thrival shoes.
May I wish you the same. Happy New Year!
Be well and thanks for visiting …
©Dorothy E. Chiotti … All Rights Reserved 2019