Why You Shouldn’t Call Yourself a Survivor
Do you label yourself a ‘survivor’? Have you overcome difficulties, even tragedies, in the past? You probably have. Most of us have. There’s nothing wrong in saying “I survived an abusive marriage” or “I survived an alcoholic father”. But in both instances, the word is ‘survived’ - past tense. It’s really dangerous to label yourself a survivor in the present and here’s why.
A survivor is someone who is surviving something. Present tense. If you define yourself as a survivor, you’re sending a message to your subconscious mind that there are roadblocks and difficulties in the present that you are overcoming. And if that’s what your subconscious believes, then your conscious mind will continue to make choices that keep roadblocks and difficulties in your life. The conscious mind can only choose from among the options presented to it by the subconscious mind. The conscious mind can’t choose from an infinite array of possibilities because the subconscious won’t let it. The subconscious sets the boundaries of what’s possible for you; and those boundaries were established by the time you were about 7 years old.
Now I know there are people who are stuck in abusive relationships, or who feel trapped in a job they hate because they need the money. And all of that is going on in the present. They are surviving those situations on a daily basis. In order to get out of these situations, you must install a new belief into your subconscious mind. Easier said than done, I know. But stay with me.
It’s dangerous to label yourself a survivor because then life will continue to present you with difficult situations that need to be survived.
So instead of calling yourself a survivor, why not think of yourself as a surfer? Hey, I don’t surf. I’ve never surfed. I don’t want to surf. But I’ve observed surfers on surfboards, and even people at the beach who catch a wave and body surf for a few feet. What they’re doing is they’re seeing a wave coming, jumping on board, and riding with the wave. And they usually have great big smiles on their faces.
Life comes at us like the waves at the beach come at the shore. You could stand still and try to not get knocked over. Or you could catch the wave and ride with it. And here’s what happens when you start catching the waves and riding with them. You build confidence. You start to say to yourself ‘hey that wave wasn’t so bad’ or ‘that one was fun’. Soon you start to see yourself as someone who can catch and ride a wave. And little by little your subconscious mind begins to rewire itself into the new belief that no matter what waves come at you, you can ride them. And once your subconscious get that message, it begins to present your conscious mind with a different array of choices when life happens. You’ll begin to replace the ‘I can survive this’ mentality with the ‘go with the flow’ mentality. And once that begins to happen, people show up who can help you on your journey. Doors that were previously thought to be closed forever suddenly open. And most importantly, you step out of your own way.
Here’s a technique I’ve used to install new beliefs into my subconscious mind. It involves a computer, a microphone, and (in my case) an iPod nano. I know. iPod nano’s are kind of old. On my computer I write a list of affirmations specifically designed to rewrite the beliefs that were installed in my subconscious mind as a child. They usually take the form of an “I am’ statement. Using “I am” plus an adjective is a short, easily digestible, affirmation that your subconscious mind can readily absorb. Here’s a few examples. But you should write ones appropriate to you.
I am healthy
I am kind
I am honest
I am hard-working
I am generous
I am brave
I am adventurous
I then open quicktime player on my computer, plug in my external microphone, start a new audio recording and whisper each affirmation three times; slowly and calmly. I try to make the entire recording about 5 minutes long. Then I copy it twice so it ends up being 15 minutes in total. Then I add it to my iTunes library and transfer it to my iPod nano. I create a playlist that begins with about 20-30 minutes of tranquil instrumental music, and then add the whispered affirmations at the end. And when I lay down at night to sleep, I begin the playlist.
The 20-30 minutes of music takes me into the first stages of sleep, and my brain from beta to theta. At about the 30 minute mark, when my brain is in the theta wave state, that’s when the affirmations begin. This is important because the theta brain wave state is the same state the toddlers brains are in all the time. That’s when the subconscious mind grabs onto what it hears and calls it a belief. At some point in the night I wake up, realize that the playlist has stopped, and remove the earbuds. Repetition is important here. Repeating this procedure nightly will eventually rewrite the programs and beliefs in your subconscious mind. And once those new beliefs begin to take root, you’ll be amazed at what you’re capable of. When troubling situations arise, you’ll have access to an entirely new set of choices and solutions. When you walk into an audition and see a room full of people who look just like you, you’ll have a confidence you never had before.
I grew up thinking of myself as a survivor. In my mind being a survivor was glamorous and admirable. Movies perpetuated this myth with endless stories of the little guy overcoming obstacles. The problem was, after the obstacles were overcome the movie ended and we never got to see the person he/she became afterward. THAT would have been inspiring! And also because my Mother overcame terrible obstacles and setbacks, and because I love and want to honor her and her struggles, I thought there was great value in calling myself a survivor. But now I can see that the real value is in calling myself a surfer, and seeing myself as someone who rides with the waves of life. Where do you want to get to in life? How far do you want to go? Does it make sense to fight against what is, or to ride the waves?