Beware: As society wilts, self-preservation takes over

Self-preservation: the protection of oneself from harm or death, especially regarded as a basic instinct in human beings and animals. (merriamwebster.com)

Self-preservation is a skill that is important for life to continue, it’s what helps us anticipate risk and keep us safe. This historically instinctual habit seems inherent, something that will simply kick in when necessary. However, this skill is connected to our emotions, as most human concepts are, and anything that deals with emotions can be manipulated and twisted if we are not careful.

Learning from the past

Self-preservation is something I know a lot about, for while I was born during a time of relative peace, my own personal life was full of dissonance, chaos, and ambiguity. My parents divorced when I was six; a messy and angry divorce full of hurt feelings and a lot of pain.

Adults surrounding me during this time were young, inexperienced, and grew more and more self-absorbed as time went on, focused solely on finding their way out of the hell they had created. I could feel, even at six, that this path they were traveling was too much for them, and I “knew” they would be unable to help me in my quest: my quest to not just stay alive, but to explore and understand the world, and to become a happy, well-adjusted person who lived a meaningful life.

Finding A Way Forward

In order to combat this war zone that constantly affected my life, I started to tap into my self-preservation. Planning for the future became my life, learning as much about the outside world as possible was my duty, so that I could create the best possible life and fortify it against any chaos that could disrupt it.

Things grew worse as my parents separated and new adults entered my life. Stepparents that either wanted to hurt me, control me, or act spitefully towards me became overbearing; heavy blankets that threatened to crush me before I was able to reach my dreams. Still, I soldiered on, knowing that someday, if I could just keep pushing forward, I could be far away from them and anyone that hurt me. Gratefully, my self-preservation muscles grew strong and resilient.

A Saving Grace

In my life, self-preservation was my savior. I learned what I needed from books, movies, television, school, and I learned what NOT to do by watching almost everyone around me. Admittedly, not everyone was horrible all the time. Bright spots popped up providing me solace and love at different times of my life, but often were fleeting or intermittent, and soon enough the blanket of tyranny was back again.

Self-preservation became my saving grace and helped me to not only create a life I love dearly but (probably more importantly) become the person I am today. Resiliency took time, and I stumbled a lot, but having that vision of what I wanted my life to become really helped me face my fears AND my failures as I moved through time.

Perhaps one may feel that this is the end of the story. A story of triumph, of learning, of strife and perseverance. While I hope that my story brings a speck of inspiration to others in a similar experience, my story must be balanced with the nuance necessary for our environment today.

The nuance of self-preservation

Self-preservation can be a helpful ingredient to pull us from despair and help us achieve our goals. However, too much self-preservation can lead us to an insular, wary, suspicious existence if we are not careful. Earlier I mentioned that I grew up in a time of relative peace. It was my internal world that was at war.

Our environment is an important part of the equation as the right thing at the wrong time can cause disastrous results. While doing the hard work of becoming who we are meant to be, we must have a safe space to run to when that work becomes exhausting. Having only my internal world to fight but an external world of peace allowed me to retain and strengthen the necessary Moxy I would need to survive my internal chaos, while still reaching out and connecting with the world around me. Remember the bright spots? That was what I was hoping to recreate consistently in my world. Remember the media that I absorbed? Much of it was extremely age-appropriate while sharing a world of connectedness, caring, adventure and peace.

A different world

We do not live in that same environment today. Our outside world is chaotic, fear-inducing, and full of the unknown. Environments of this sort can cause our connections to break down, and we shrink our physical world. We close ranks in order to keep our loved ones safe. Adding even more self-preservation to this equation pushes all of us further into our homes and creates enemies everywhere.

Throughout these hard times, we need to remember that our connections are what make life worth living and add to our overall well-being. Technology cannot save us from this fact. Humans will always need each other even we would like to wish this were not the case.

People are starting to feel abandoned. Abandoned by their governments, their communities, their neighbors, friends, and families. This can make us want to run away, hide away, and only deal with what is right in front of us.

The kicker is that this is a good place to start.

The issue is, this is no place to stay.

Where to Start

Gaining a better sense of self-preservation to get your “ish” together is necessary during hard times. Times where resources are tight, life is difficult, and chaos reigns. Today, we live in a world where distractions are overwhelming. Where you can find anything and everything you would want to “feel good” allowing us to disregard our conscience and our need for self-preservation. Similar to the frog slowly boiling in the pot, our self-preservation can be overwhelmed with slow, consistent pain.

So please, do look inward to deal with emotional baggage, define dreams, and create a vision for the future.

However, remember to balance that with the relationships we need to help us remember we are a species that thrives when we have connection. Disconnection leads to isolation, depression, added anxiety, and shortens our lives. So, how do we balance self-preservation and connection?

How to Balance

*Create Your Culture – We like to think about culture in terms of food, clothing, and holidays, but culture starts with our beliefs, values, and attitudes. Take a look at this picture – each of these concepts can look different depending on where we live.

How would each of these concepts be described in your life? If you have never thought about a concept before, do research before going with your gut feelings.

*Define your Tribe – Think about all of the relationships you had 5 years ago, how many still exist in your life today?

Research has shown that the pandemic has decimated our weak ties – “people that live on the periphery of our lives”. Those people that added something nice to our day, or friends we do not talk to often, are just as important to keep us tethered to humanity as our everyday tribe members. Weak ties can help us exercise our empathy muscles in new ways, keeping them in shape for when we really need them.

Old Templates Die Hard

Change is hard. Fighting against the overwhelming barrage of distractions is difficult. This is why our world is dying. But there is hope. We can both strengthen our self-preservation AND keep our connections strong, we just need help to see how. The old templates we were taught will not work as effectively any longer. We must find new ways to create our path forward. We all want a world where we feel comfortable, where we feel cared for and about, where we can live our purpose. Following the Essential Elements of Life can provide a new template to bring about that future for us all.

If you, or someone you know, is struggling with all of the change, finding difficulty dealing with emotional pain, hurt feelings, or distractions please check out our programs and see how we can help.

Copyright 2022 – Maven Source International, LLC

The End of an Era leads to a New Horizon

A pendulum’s momentum eventually stalls if the energies surrounding it equalize for too long. It will swing gently back and forth until the friction between the air and its mass conflict at the same rate. So goes our world; slowly stopped over the past decade as the chaos of our world, and our ever-changing minds, have acted like gravity in our social space. Changes often bring an end, but also start the dawn of a new beginning; one that if we start to plan for now can bring about a brighter future.

A new era is being ushered in, one full of Yin energy, the opposite of what we have experienced in the last few centuries. It is a time for rest, strategy, and holistic ideas, an exciting time but also one of immense pain for those unaware or unprepared. New environments and lots of change make humans uneasy, especially change that exists outside of our control.

One may feel they are being tossed along the waves and experience difficulty gaining a solid footing. This discombobulation often leads to pain, confusion, and despair. While the time has passed for finding a way to escape this period of life, there is a way to find the balance we crave. Taking on the adventure of finding our rhythm, working to banish the distractions that stop us from finding harmony, and gaining comfort with ambiguity can help us plan for what is coming next.

The effects of Change

Time is ever moving, it never recedes, but humans historically have been spared from dealing with such heavy effects in such a short period of life. Past changes were often difficult to see until they were past their tipping point, but the more unstable our society, the faster the pace of change. Expanding our view globally exacerbates the number of changes that affect us, and can easily become overwhelming in our digital age.

While some can see this quick pace of change as exhilarating, and look to welcome this sea of change with open arms, others, especially those who have led fairly predictable lives, can crumble under the weight of ambiguity. This can help explain why some have expanded their communities to include people across the world while some become more insular and focused only on what is in front of them. The conflict that arises between people on these different change spectrums only adds to the frustration, confusion, and pain.

Changes abound

Think of the number of times we have heard the words “unprecedented” or “never before seen”. Endings happen when many new things start appearing.

A snippet of shifts happening at once:

  • The Great Resignation confusion – low unemployment but we have the most people quitting at one time ever. Employers a bit unsettled that they may have lost the upper hand.
  • The Changing Weather – Higher highs, lower lows, snow in the south, but none in the west. Regardless of why it is happening, our weather patterns are changing.
  • Conservative business men are “freedom fighters” and liberal tree huggers are “draconian” – I’ll just leave that there….we have a lot of work to do…
  • White men feel like victims in a world they have ruled for centuries.
  • Our technology is what both keeps us together during covid, but also drives us further into isolation and loneliness.
  • Our globe has grown more democratic, but also more selfish over the past decades.

Find your Change Rhythm

Endings are tough, especially when they do not end happily or willingly. During times of change, people become fearful of losing what they have and losing their station in life. This is natural. We work hard for what we have, and want to keep what we have gained. But we must be wary about succumbing to this fear and causing greater problems. This fear can grow dangerous when we start to see others as the enemy and start to hide away from those we used to trust. This fear strengthens our need for safety which drives us further apart.

Instead, we must recognize that it is our struggle against this change that causes our pain. Change will happen whether we like it or not, but we can always change ourselves to maintain our vision. The more we struggle against it only prolongs the pain. Learning how to better manage change can make the process easier.

A Change, according to renowned Organizational Change expert William Bridges, consists of three main phases: An Ending, A Neutral Zone of uncertainty, and A New beginning, and each of us reacts uniquely within each phase. To help clarify these phases, my synopsis is below. Understanding these ideas can help to refine our relationship with change.

  1. Endings come with emotions. These emotions must be felt, understood, and let go before one can leave this stage fully.
  2. Uncertainty/Ambiguity comes with questions. These questions bring anxiety, depression, aggression, and fear. These symptoms can only be quelled by finding the answers to the questions.
  3. A New Beginning can only be reached if you know what it is “supposed to look like“. Paint a detailed picture of what you are working towards so that you know when you have reached it.

Start a New Beginning Today

What to do when you realize that the environment calls for change and it starts with changing yourself?

Start getting back to the basics: Determining what we really NEED not just what we WANT.

We NEED each other. Period. It may not seem so, but we can only survive together. Our world has grown richer, resources are more prevalent, and technology allows us the option of a single life. Psychology Today said it well: “More affluence leads to a greater sense of self-reliance and a detachment from others.” But we give up a lot when we create this type of life. We more easily fall into isolation, depression and suffer from anxiety. Julianne Holt-Lunstad, PhD, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Brigham Young University, found that loneliness and social isolation are twice as harmful to physical and mental health as obesity (Perspectives on Psychological Science, Vol. 10, No. 2, 2015).

We NEED to remove distractions and regain our connection with nature. This connection allows us to better anticipate the winds of change and better prepare for the future we really want. Removing distractions can be hard because as the smoke clears, all of the emotions we have pushed away come rushing back. Doing this work is hard, and it’s often better with a guide. I use the Essential Elements of Life to guide my students towards building resiliency and finding peace free from their emotional baggage. Please check us out if you are in need, but even if we are not the right fit for you I implore you to seek assistance when searching your soul.

An Ending of Hope

This will not be easy, it will not be quick, but if we start today we WILL see the fruits of our labor sometime soon. Start talking to each other, learning about each other, discovering more about our values, morals, goals, and dreams. Let go of the need to “one-up” someone, let go of the spite, release the hurt, see that we have a chance. A chance to create the world anew, the chance to find ourselves again.

Endings bring fear, but they can also bring hope. When change comes we can run, but we can never hide. It ebbs and flows throughout our lives and is necessary for growth. Growth creates maturity and helps us learn the mysteries of life. If we can find the courage to stand and face our fear, we start our journey to find our rhythm and create a life of harmony and balance.