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Surviving vs. Thriving

This lesson is a part of an audio course Finding Freedom from Shock and Trauma by Stephen Paul King

Victor Hugo stated that "Life is the flower for which love is the honey."

What are the qualities that separate those who have the ability to withstand the worst and yet are seemingly still able to thrive, from those who catastrophise and view themselves as hapless and helpless victims?

People who are good copers are often referred to as stress-hardy. _Psychologist Suzanne Kobasa has identified three attitudes that sustain such individuals during demanding times. These attitudes are called the three C`s: challenge, commitment, and control. A stress-hardy person sees change and crisis as a challenge rather than a threat. Even when they cannot control the outer situation, they realize that they always have control over their response to the things that are happening. There is a wise saying that relates to this phenomenon: "Suffering is inevitable, but misery is optional." (_Anatomy of an Illness – Norman Cousins p. 26)

Listed below are some of the ‘Thriver' qualities, which have been excerpted from ‘The Beethoven Factor: The New Positive Psychology of Hardiness, Healing, and Hope' (Paul Pearsall, Hampton Roads Pubs. 2003.)

Thrivers are beings who can creatively construe situations that allow themselves to develop an increasingly more encompassing and adaptive explanatory style.

They tend to have very strong immune systems, and even at the worst of times, they seem aware on some level of the rules by which it functions.

They have faith that no feeling will last forever. The "Have Faith, Calm Down, and Don't Despair" rule.

They sense that suffering is essential for a truly authentic life.

They seem to know or have learned to let their emotions flow naturally rather than to cling to them. They know that it's not being afraid, depressed, or anxious that destroys their lives; it's allowing themselves to get stuck in these emotional states. The "Let It Go" rule.

They encounter trauma and are able to make meaning out of what happened (e.g., Viktor Frankl – Man's Search for Meaning); they are not only immunized against the next adversity, they also become better able to recover more quickly from it.

They not only find more to enjoy about life, but are much happier with much less.

They lower the threshold for being thrilled and forgive themselves for their own shortcomings and the world for its seeming random harshness, i.e., "It's a lot easier to feel great when you don't go around expecting life to be fantastic."

They can live, when necessary, with lower aspirations but realistically raise their inspiration.

They are not blindly optimistic and are far from showing the often-irritating, feigned cheerfulness.

They thrive because they mentally remain engaged with their problem long enough to find meaning that helps to accommodate to whatever happens to them.

"Most people would rather stagnate in the security of the known than evolve in the creative uncertainty of the unknown." (Linda Kohanov)

"Some would much rather complacently survive in a rigid hierarchy than thrive in the ambiguities of freedom." (Kohanov)

They continue to be the creative composers of their own consciousness.

Some signs of creative composition and inner peace are:

  • A tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than from fear based on past experiences
  • An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment
  • Loss of interest in judging other people
  • Loss of interest in judging self
  • Loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others.
  • Loss of interest in conflict
  • Loss of ability to worry (a very serious symptom)
  • Frequent, overwhelming episodes of appreciation
  • Contented feelings of connectedness with nature and others
  • Frequent attacks of smiling through the eyes from the heart
  • Increased tendency to let things happen rather than make them happen
  • Increased susceptibility to Love extended by others, as well as the uncontrollable urge to extend it

(Olympia Fellowship of Reconciliation Newsletter. Issue 63, 1986)

On the issue of being one's authentic self vs. the desire for attachment, regardless of the cost, Dr. Gabor Mate has stated that, most people, when faced with the choice of either attachment or authenticity in their relationships, will go for attachment first, seeking recognition and validation from others instead of being able to give it to themselves. In the majority of situations, most of us will decide that it's far more important for others to like us than for us to do whatever it takes to like ourselves. In other words, for some, respect and acceptance from others trumps self-respect and self-acceptance pretty much all the time. (Candace Plattor- Insights mag. Aug 2012 – p. 28)

Bear in mind that a big part of the goal is to return to our authentic self or Spirit, as we were, in effect, Dis-spirited by trauma. It is interesting to note that the Latin word ‘Spiritus' means alcohol, which therefore moves one into a state of ‘artificial grace,' whereby one becomes separated from Self. The benefits of healing trauma and shock and therefore thriving include moving from a Dissociated Self to Re-Connection, by Re-membering (bringing all parts of the self together) and releasing.

One metaphor for releasing would be like "popping a balloon" vs. "releasing the air" (i.e., the Energy Packets). Popping a balloon would be the goal for one incident of shock/trauma, and releasing the air at a pace that was safe and healthy would be the goal for multiple incidents of shock/trauma.

Also, bearing in mind that a person often seeks mood-altering substances or processes in order to cover up anxiety and that it can be argued that every behavior has a positive intent (such as a desire not to feel anxiety - doesn't always by any means justify it though) – therefore the question of "Why do I continue to do this?" becomes one of "What good things do I (or others) get from this?"

If you wish to look deeper into the issue of the nature of addictions, I would suggest my own book ‘Rapid Recovery: Accelerated Information Processing & Healing' regarding energy medicine and the various tools and techniques and tune-ins and tune-ups that can be helpful and I have made some other reading recommendations as well as a bibliography and reference section at the end of this book.

"I'd rather be seen for who I am and be alone, than to be accepted for someone I am not and be lonely." (Brock Tully)

"He who cannot change the very fabric of his thought will never be able to change reality." —Anwar Sadat

"All stress is internally generated by one's attitudes." —Dr. David Hawkins

"The only thing I could change was my attitude and by changing that, everything changed." —Anthony de Mello

"The greatest discovery of any generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind." —Albert Schweitzer

"Your life is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life." —Kahlil Gibran

"The longer I live, the more I realise the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company… a church… a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for the day. We cannot change our past…we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude… I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you… we are in charge of our Attitudes." —Charles Swindoll

Lesson 8 is on the importance of water as it relates to the healing process.

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Written by

Stephen Paul King