Survival mode: When you’ve had enough
How long can humans figuratively hold their breath, white-knuckling their way through a crisis? Not long.
We can do that for a short period to get through the crisis, but what happens when the crisis goes on for longer than we expected?
We have to adapt.
Right now is probably about the time we start to unravel. You’ve been resisting some emotions, pretending they aren’t there, and that makes them build. Other emotions you’ve been indulging in. Feeding them with news reports and drama. You’ve been letting your mind run wild and all those emotions are becoming amplified. You need to find a way to cope.
The things that you use to cope with boredom, loneliness, stress, fear, uncertainty, overwhelm, anxiety—food, internet surfing, Netflix, drinking, pornograph–they get amplified in a situation like we are in now with COVID-19.
Have you found that they are harder to resist? Do you feel more out of control of yourself? You might also be thinking, “I can’t keep going on like this indefinitely. Something’s gotta give.”
We have to adapt.
You’ve been in survival mode. You’ve been letting your primitive brain drive, and that’s okay because that’s what your brain is designed to do. But your higher brain knows it’s time to take over. Survival brain keeps you alive, but it doesn’t do a lot for your emotional wellbeing.
We have to adapt.
We have to up-level our emotional and mental resilience. This is your training ground. This is where you have the chance to see what you are made of. The way to do that is to take back the steering wheel from your primitive brain. It’s time to learn how to MANAGE your mind.
- Choose to limit your input. Be selective and limit what comes into your mind. If there is something you need to know, SOMEONE will tell you. If you consume negative, stressful media, choose to consume positive, reassuring media in equal measure. The less stressful input you let it, the less you have to manage.
- Don’t believe everything your brain tells you. Your mind offers you a lot of thoughts that aren’t true. Additionally, just because something feels intense, or emotionally charged doesn’t make it true. If it isn’t FACT, it’s a thought—a story. Thoughts are all optional. Question what your mind is telling you.
- Talk to yourself more than you listen to yourself. After you have questioned the narrative your mind is telling you, choose intentionally the story you want to believe. If you are making it up anyway, choose a story that serves you. Choose a story that makes you feel powerful and secure, rather than fearful and vicitim-like.
- Let some of the coping mechanisms that aren’t good for you go. Maybe not all of them at once, but pick one to start with. When you stop buffering (putting something between you and a negative emotion), it will bring your emotions to the forefront. This is when you get access to them. Emotions are the clue to what is happening in your head. They are the gateway. Don’t run from them. Use them to discover where you need strengthening. We can’t build resilience when we hide and pretend.
- Learn how to feel your feelings. All of them. We love to feel happy, good feelings, but avoid, hide, numb from less desirable ones. To adapt, we need to get good at feeling all of the feelings. Just feel them. Let them be there. Name them. Breath. How does it feel in your body? They won’t overtake you when you learn to just let them be. This is where we need a lot of practice!
- Get a life coach. I’m not just saying this because I am one. A life coach is a personal trainer for your mental and emotional health. They make observations, ask questions, and teach you how to build resilience. Just like having a personal trainer multiplies your results, so does having a life coach. You will 10x your progress with a little help.
Let me teach you. Let me help you. You can adapt on your own, but you can also have help. This is my jam. When you are ready, I will be here!