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  • Kate Buckman

Survival Mode Isn't Sustainable

Survival Mode might be a necessary evil for each of us at times, but it isn't a way of life. It's a way to destroy your life. Prolonged periods of time spent in survival mode can change how you react to everyday situations and damage your ability to enjoy your life. It can change you fundamentally, and you might not even notice.


Think about it. If you are just barely getting by, and much of your time is spent in "crash position", eventually your mind and body will accept that as the norm. It will react to an increasing number of situations with "code red" responses, until that is the default. This can happen over time in such a way that you don't even realize how much you are changing. And this is especially true if you've been through an experience that understandably required a "survival mindset", such as the death or illness of a loved one, a new job, a new baby, starting a business, going back to school, etc. We all have times when we know things are going to be hard and we just have to "make it through", but we have to EXPECT and PLAN to be on the other side of them. Why accept the hard times as where you live?


Are you in a Mindful or Survival Mindset?


Gauge which set of statements you identify with most:

Statements from a Survival Mindset:

  • “I break or spill things because of carelessness, not paying attention, or thinking of something else.”

  • “I tend to walk quickly to get where I’m going without paying attention to what I experience along the way.”

  • “I find it difficult to stay focused on what’s happening in the present.”

  • “I get so focused on the goal I want to achieve that I lose touch with what I am doing right now to get there”

  • “I seldom notice what other people are up to.”

  • “If there is something I don’t want to think about, I’ll try many things to get it out of my mind.”


Statements from a Mindful Mindset:

  • “It is easy for me to concentrate on what I am doing.”

  • “I can usually describe how I feel at the moment in considerable detail.”

  • “I am able to accept the thoughts and feelings I have.”

  • “I see my mistakes and difficulties without judging them.”

  • “In difficult situations, I can pause without immediately reacting.”

  • “I experience moments of inner peace and ease, even when things get hectic and stressful.”

I pulled these statements from a collection of Mindfulness Resources to help folks do a quick litmus test or gut check on their mindset. The link above has several metrics and assessments that can help you build a more complete picture of where you are.


If you find you are in survival mode, don't panic. We are all there sometimes. But it is important to acknowledge what survival mode really means and whether or not it's the place you want to be.

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