Healthy people know how to let go of survival methods that don’t work anymore. I’m not an expert on this by any means. But over the last six months or so I’ve had to let go of a few, the most recent of which was faith in things that no longer make sense in my life.
This is not work for the faint of heart. It feels like the emotional version of cutting the rope halfway up the cliff. The alternative, however, is living in fear, unable to open up to new possibilities for growth.
We’ve got to learn to let them go before we can move forward.
1. What is a survival method?
It can be a lot of things – shutting down in intimate situations so you can’t be hurt, belief in an old system because letting it go is too painful, cynicism as a means to avoid grief, avoiding unfamiliar situations so you can maintain control, responding to uncertainty with anger, or refusing to trust anyone so they won’t disappoint you.
An old survival method is a fear-based response that your psyche developed in the past to protect you from a specific situation. Now, even though the threat is gone, you are still using that response in situations where it is no longer appropriate.
2. Survival methods are always come by honestly.
They are a very human response to a painful situation you endured in the past. They were developed to protect you, and probably did their job very well at the time. They aren’t the product of weak will or a weak mind – they were powerful tools that enabled survival. (Thus, the name.)
3. Old survival methods don’t just go away when you no longer need them.
When the danger is past they just keep attacking things you’d actually really like to have in your life, thanks. You can think of them like attack dogs, if you like – well trained, but unable to discern the bad guys from the good. They just go after anyone who comes on your property.
4. Survival methods can be hard to find.
It is a matter of their survival that you deny their existence. It’s a sort of safety wall your psyche puts up when it’s dealing with the initial danger.
Take alcoholism – an extreme survival method – for example. Admitting to the addiction, acknowledging its existence, starts the removal process. Since part of the addicted person believes they can’t survive without the addiction, they’ll put up walls against reality to keep their coping mechanism.
In the next post in this series, I’ll be talking about ways to find old survival methods and how to respond when you do.