During the hunter-gatherer days, we were told that our forefathers were only striving to survive. Hunting, fighting, you name it, were mostly done out of fear of not perishing or losing out. They weren’t known to connect as much as we do now. There were no devices, telephones, or social media.
But now, many things have changed. We have become enlightened enough to understand that we shouldn’t be fearful of so many of the things our forefathers were afraid of. Some of us are lucky enough to have shelter over our heads, food to eat, games and movies for entertainment, internet connectivity, and social media platforms for connecting with other people, yet, we act like we’re living in ancient times. We hunt for jobs that do not serve our inner beings, we adopt queer habits so we do not perish or lose out, we climb over people’s heads to get to the top, and we try to run faster than time. It is as though we’re constantly in a competition of either the strongest, richest, mightiest, or finest . Here, in this world, it is the survival of the fittest.
How then do we know when we’re living or merely surviving?
You’re surviving when you keep doing things that aren’t aligned with your true self
Overindulgent behaviours like overeating, oversleeping, having too much entertainment like clubbing and chatting online 24/7 is an indication that you are merely surviving. There are difficult or unplanned situations that call for certain indulgence, but doing them on a daily, weekly, monthly basis, could just be a short-term coping strategy to something you want to end. That’s a sign you’re in survival mode. To live, balance is key.
Living, on the other hand, requires you to acknowledge the situation and seek out a better way out of it. You could have a conversation with yourself to find out what the issue is. You can seek professional help , especially when you realise you cannot do this on your own.
But don’t overindulge or become dependent on drugs, entertainment or sleep to put you out of your misery, it doesn’t end well for most people.
You’re surviving when you pick up habits that let you off the hook for a while
Survival mode lets us pick up habits that lets us off the hook easily. Habits such as getting tattoos, drinking, smoking, over-eating, or any other thing we are suddenly obsessed with. These things are temporary, but problems that are left unchecked and unsolved remain permanent – they hardly leave.
Sometimes, ‘survival mode’ also makes you defensive. You see everything as an attack on your skills or personality. Then you become closed in, shutting out people for fear that they’ll hurt you or not find you good enough when they come closer.
Living, on the other hand, is being vulnerable and not being afraid to show that you are. Accepting that every relationship comes with their ups and downs. Processing difficult emotions that arise due to disagreements, discussing them and moving forward.
You’re not living when you still brawl over little things, especially things you already have in abundance
Our forefathers fought for food, light, water, shelter, and so on, but many of us have food to eat, the internet to browse with, and family to make us feel protected. Yet, we act like we don’t have these. We still skirt around brutally for food – we panic-buy. We still fight to get into relationships – we panic-love. We still battle with ourselves when we are alone – we panic-befriend people.
Everything is in panic mode. Survival mode. We don’t want to lose out on the house, friends, spouse, birthing time, and other life endowments so much we forget the ones we already have. We forget that we have ourselves whom we can trust. We forget we have God who is omnipotent, come what may. We forget we have loved ones who will at least show up for us if anything bad happened.
What are you so afraid of? Conquer that fear and liberate yourself from leaving this world not achieving anything because guess what? Those things you fought hard for remain here and get taken over by somebody else. We should live with the understanding that nothing on earth belongs to us. We came in naked and will go back without anything. Everything is vanity. You will lose some and get some. Not everything fought for is received and sometimes the things we don’t fight for often come to us quickly.
Surviving is not doing what we love but what would fetch us money instead
The biggest purpose in life should be doing something that makes you feel fulfilled. This includes not getting into a job you hate or one that fetches you no satisfaction.
Do you know the worst thing that can happen to you is staying where you don’t grow? Mentally or otherwise. Just stagnant, infuriated, and going with the flow. It also includes doing any and everything to get money, forgetting that there should be a greater purpose to everything you give your time to.
Learn to refrain from the most insatiable urge because it’s a hollow dream that never comes true. The more money you pursue, the more money you need. The fear of having more equals the fear of losing them. When you set a goal and have a purpose for it, it becomes easier and better to be grateful when you accomplish them.
Surviving is disallowing ourselves from feeling or hurting
As human beings, we were created to have feelings and emotions. Cry when we hurt, bleed when we injure ourselves, suffer from heartbreaks from bad breakups, be depressed when we have long struggles, have sexual urges, and mourn when we lose our loved ones.
When you deny yourself of these emotions and pretend to be good or strong, you’re only surviving and not living. You’re also cheating yourself.
This is not to say you shouldn’t practice or exercise stoicism from time to time. A healthy dose of it is allowed. But denying yourself the natural prowess to express your true feelings or emotions is cowardice and is you killing yourself slowly. Conquer your fears of what others would see you as or take you if you showed your true feelings. Find someone you can talk or fully express yourself to. And then take your time to heal and move forward.
Many of us fight to get through each day as though there’s a meter for our lives or we are in charge of it. That’s survival mode. Living is us being authentic, peaceful, calm, and purposeful. Let’s be our true selves without giving a damn about what anyone thinks about us.
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