Today I am sharing my thoughts on what it means to be in survival mode, how existing in this space as a black woman throws us into survival mode and shows up as trauma and a few ways to try to work through all of this besides therapy (which is crucial).
Please see show notes below the episode.
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- What is survival mode - No we aren’t talking about The Walking Dead though in all honesty I was the shows biggest fan until Rick left the show. Survival mode is our minds way of preparing for, expecting and avoiding the worse in every situation a lot of times due to unresolved trauma. It pushes us to ignore how we feel and instead just work, work, work and go, go, go while keeping our feelings locked away. We don’t take time to rest, we are always on edge waiting for the other shoe to drop. We created feelings and habits (for example negative self-talk or fear of relationships) based on trauma and they loop around like a record on repeat over and over.
- Some of us have trauma from 10-20 even 30 and 40 years ago that we haven’t fully addressed or worked through.
- We push down and hide away these experiences and this allows those loops to dominate our lives without us being fully aware of it.
- This trauma shows up as stress and anxiety for many of us. It looks like drinking to much, being fearful of setting boundaries, trying to control others, not finishing things we start, eating too little or too much, letting bills pile up unopened, avoiding people and conflict unless absolutely necessary, or allowing clutter to take control of our lives.
- We allow (as in it’s completely understandable) certain people, like veterans or or people with physical disabilities that we can actually see, to say that they have ptsd. We extend grace, compassion and understanding to them without hesitation but when it comes to dealing with our own trauma we are often harsh, rushed and unforgiving because we don’t believe that what we’ve experienced is big enough or visible enough for others to understand.
- Black women are consistently walking and existing in a world that shows us it is not ok to be carefree. We are dealing with racism, sexism, every other kind of “ism”, sexual abuse, domestic violence, poverty, single parenting, illnesses, etc and we are doing it a lot of times without the privilege of support systems or money to fall back on if we need time away to take a break.
- We go from task to task, situation to situation, day to day, month to month and year to year trying to make it through and just getting by while also carrying the physical and emotional weight of past traumas we’ve experienced. Without access to consistent, affordable mental health care we keep on trudging through trying not to completely lose our collective shit. (excuse my french).
- so, besides access to therapy which I believe is crucial for our health, what our some ways that we can start to work through all the trauma we’ve faced and will continue to face?
- Stop avoiding how you really feel. Are you angry? Scared? Lonely?
- Ask yourself what is important right now and trim away what isn’t
- recharge your battery by slowing down
- Be who the hell you are
- Use your affirmations and positive statements. No, this is not a cure all. it’s about giving your mind something positive to focus on when your mind is stuck on seeking out the worst possible outcome in every single thing that you do. Statements like “I can do all things through Christ” if you are a believer, “it is safe for me to rest and take a day off” or “I deserve to treat myself with respect and kindness” can go a long way when you are hitting a rough patch.