Survival mode is probably one of the most stressful periods in someone’s life. Not knowing whether or not you’re going to be able to pay the next bill, hoping that you can bring food to the table for another week. Living day by day, week by week. Fighting for every apple and every piece of bread. Survival mode is stressful and depressing. You give up hope, don’t always see the light at the end of the tunnel. But what if you’re done with it? What if you don’t want to live like that anymore? What if you’re finally ready to escape survival mode and find the path to a better life?
What is survival mode?
Survival mode is that way of living in which you barely earn enough money to feed your family and pay some minor bills. Mostly it’s just a temporary time in your life, or at least that’s what I hope it is for you. Because living in survival mode is hard and depressing. Not knowing if you’re going to make ends meet for another week, hoping that your bank account doesn’t bully you when you’re in the store, buying just the bare essentials. Having that one bill that should have been paid a long time ago looming over you and feeling so guilty that your heart breaks, because you aren’t able to collect that amount of money yet. Knowing that you’re giving everything you can, working 14 hours a day, 7 days a week, but still not being able to upgrade your life because of who knows what reason.
That’s survival mode. Having the Sword of Damocles hanging over your head every second of every day.
No matter what you do or try
Typical to survival mode is that the way out is deeply hidden. The exit is there somewhere, probably even more than one exit- but it’s hidden. There’s no sign telling you where it is, you need to discover that on your own.
Sometimes it feels like no matter what you do or try, things just don’t work. There’s no light at the end of the tunnel, no getting out of it. You tried living in a house, working away from home, doing the normal society-stuff… you tried selling that house, traveling minimalistic to save on bills, working from home… you tried everything in between. But nothing works. You’re stuck in survival mode.
Victim behaviour vs. owning it
What I noticed about ourselves in this situation is that feeling like a victim of life and society comes easily. It’s society’s fault, the way society works is absurd and unreliable. And yes, that is a fact, our society is messed up and I can’t wait for it to fall and bow down for real life. But it’s not the reason you’re in survival mode.
Owning your truth is the first step to getting out of this situation. Stop doubting yourself or the work you put in to make ends meet. Even though society looks down on you and tells you that you’re not working hard enough, that doesn’t mean they’re right. And you don’t own anyone any explanation, except for yourself. Be truthful to yourself and own that truth. Look at yourself and acknowledge the things that have been happening in your life. What really happened to bring you into this situation? What is the real reason that you hide behind that natural victim behaviour? Why are you really in survival mode?
Step 1: look for your real answers
Looking for the real answers is your first big step. Are you really working hard to get out of it? Good for you! You are doing your part then… it might be something completely different that is holding you back.
How do you feel about yourself? Are you worth getting out of survival mode? Or maybe you are stuck inside yourself because you don’t think you deserve it? That’s a legit reason!
Can you let go of the past or is that another roadblock? Some situations in our lives are big enough to keep you hostage for a long time. You want to go forward, but things can’t flow because of the weight around your feet… another legit reason of being stuck in survival mode!
Find your answers. Only for yourself, only in your head, you don’t have to tell them out loud yet, but find them. What is the real reason you are in survival mode? Are you ready to face the truth?
Step 2: own your truth
There’s a huge distance between step 1 and step 2. I know! Finding your truth was already a big step and you were probably not ready to embrace those answers from the start. That’s ok. Be nice to yourself. Owning your truth is hard, especially when there’s a judgmental society looming over you. You will notice that when some time has passed, it gets easier to accept the real truth behind you being in survival mode. And once you are no longer triggered by this truth, you’re finally ready to start working on your exit.
Is that all it takes to get out of survival mode? That sounds easy, right?! Well… it isn’t. Trust me. Those first 2 steps are probably the hardest steps you will have to make before you’re ready to get out of your situation. Don’t underestimate that part of the process. It took me 5 years to realize that things aren’t going good in my life and to eliminate the non-financial mindblur parts that aren’t working. After that it took another 2 years to finally be REALLY ready to work on all of it. That’s 7 years (!) of trying and not succeeding, because I was too scared to see it all. Right now the hardest part is accepting that it took me that long to find my truth and to own it.
Step 3: discovering your exit
But I’m there and you can be too! Because after that hard part… the next hard part comes your way: discovering your exit. We already talked about there being multiple exits out of your survival mode, but they are very well hidden. Only someone who is ready to find them will be able to do so.
The thing that helped me the best while searching for my exit is my intuition. But trusting your intuition, without giving into all the mindblur in your head is not easy as well. Survival mode is a stressful situation in which you can only see what is in front of you. The big picture doesn’t matter in survival mode. What matters is that you have food on the table, no matter what it takes. This naturally creates a situation in which trust and hope are lost. Getting that trust back, is HARD!
Trusting your intuition seems like an impossible task at this moment. After measuring out every cent you have and securely puzzling every piece of your life together, just so you can have the basics that you need to survive, opening up your heart to follow a feeling sounds ridiculous. You have been living a rough life for such a long time and now it’s up to a feeling? Are you crazy?
But when you start to ease into trusting this feeling, you will notice small changes around you. A small chance here, a right person crossing your path there, small things that have always been there since your childhood crawling back to you… It will make you feel more secure in listening to that intuition that you were so afraid of.
At one point you might see your exit. A big flashy neon sign that tells you that this is the way to go. You start running towards it…
Step 4: the big crash
… to crash into the biggest wall you have seen so far, tumble back and fall on your ass. Again.
Exits don’t come with flashy neon signs. They never did and they never will. You wouldn’t learn a single life lesson if your path was mapped out.
If you are like me, this crash will bring you down and break you into a million pieces. It will make you loose all hope, only see darkness in front of you and be ready to jump of a bridge. You’re done with it. It’s over. The Universe obviously doesn’t want you to succeed and you will never get there. You’re ready to stop trying.
But at this point… you have felt the hope, have seen the light… a seed was planted inside you and even though it might take some time to get through this fall on your ass, you probably notice that you don’t want to give up again. Power you didn’t know you have inside you, is lurking somewhere, ready to break out.
Step 5: creating cosmos out of chaos
When I went through that big crash and saw the chaos that was left in front of me, the million pieces of my puzzle that I needed to puzzle back together… it made me think of the universal Big Bang, the start of our universe. I went through my own big bang and all that was visible was the chaos of all the rocks, dust and pieces of who knows what. At first it seemed impossible to start cleaning that mess, but the little seed that was growing inside my heart pushed me forward. Rock by rock, piece by piece I started to create a cosmos out of the chaos, just like the universe did in the very beginning.
And step by step, paths are clearing up. Things that I didn’t know were part of my puzzle are now there, ready to be put together.
Step 6: discovering your exit – part 2
I have to admit. I’m between steps 5 and 6 now. I don’t know what is in front of me, have no clue what step 6 will bring. Maybe there’s a step 7, 8, 9 and 10? Maybe one of those steps is another big crash? But I have a feeling that this is it. I’m on the verge of discovering my exit. My intuition tells me so and I’m ready to believe.
These past few days, I subscribed to a few women entrepreneur groups on Facebook. While I took my distance from that platform in the past couple of months, I was drawn back and those groups were flashing in front of me. So I followed this intuitive path and subscribed. In a few days time, I was able to meet some of the most beautiful souls there… like-minded spirits going through the same things, grotesque women reaching for our hands, wanting to pull us out. It’s crazily scary and amazingly beautiful at the same time.
And I’m reaching… I’m grabbing their hands and with all the energy I have left, I’m lifting myself up. It’s time to find the exit once and for all. And I’ll make sure to lift up as many of my co-climbers with me.
Survival mode… thank you for all the life lessons that you have learned me. While it has been hard, it’s because of you that I’m here. You were a necessary road to take before finding my path towards a better future. Thank you for all the good and the bad.