Rewire from Surviving to Thriving
This is the first article where I’ll share with you a few valuable lessons that I have learned in my life about increasing our ability to tune into joy independent of life’s curveballs. My intention is to support you on your journey exploring with curiosity and an open heart.
“I just want to be HAPPY!!!”
I have heard these words many times in my practice … usually expressed with profound heartache …
These last few months I have pondered a lot about my own life, especially since I can rather easily tap into a profound well of joy now, whilst looking back to my life 10 years ago, the ingredients for ‘a happy life’ were there as well.
Yet … Happiness felt random, coming to me in fleeting moments that started fading very soon as way too often happiness felt overshadowed by feelings of stress, and overwhelm.
The Impact of Chronic Stress
Stress is NOT what people generally describe as nervous agitation.
As Dr. Gabor Maté describes in his book When the Body Says No, stress is “a measurable set of objective physiological events in the body, involving the brain, the hormonal apparatus, the immune system and many other organs. Both animals and people can experience stress with no awareness of its presence”
Being cut off from bodily experiences perpetuates blurred boundaries and disconnection from personal needs and desires.
For me, this manifested in being available for work 24/7, chronic over-committing and putting everyone else’s needs always above mine. I didn’t notice it as I loved my job and had made up an internal narrative that it was all “good stress”, meanwhile
dismissing my needs for rest until my body’s whispers rose into a crescendo.
I now see a similar or a different flavour of this narrative with clients in my practice.
This is where many people revert to “instant” or “fast-food” happiness, providing an instant pleasurable experience but not the deeply fulfilling joy they are so craving for.
Why is this so?
Chronic stress puts our nervous system baseline in a chronic survival mode. Neuroscience is showing that our nervous system makes no distinction between a real tiger in front of you, or paper tigers, deadline tigers etc. These later ones are rather relentless in our current society.
A habituated stressed nervous system baseline not only incapacitates our body to receive the nutrients it needs to thrive, but it also disarms our immune system … and it prevents our heart from receiving the joy and love that it is craving for.
Life has become Groundhog Day.
Misalignment may show up as health issues creeping in, exhaustion, burnout, a sense of emptiness, relationship issues, …
This is also the point where I see many clients shouting with agony “I just want to be happy!!!”
And this is where we go wrong.
I am Dutch. We are known to be blunt. So I am not into sugar coating:
Instead of looking at the roots of the “misalignment”, most often we are getting in a-void-ance mode, scrolling our feelings away or reverting to solely instant pleasurable experiences and we set the goal: HAPPY!!
Creating exactly what we are trying to avoid: A void.
Happiness as a Goal Creates Unhappiness.
Bear with me. I’ll explain.
As a human being on this planet having a human experience, happiness in itself is a transient emotion, therefore as a goal it is not very sustainable.
Do you know anyone who is happy All. The. Time??
I invite you to sit with this question for a little while:
Are you chasing happiness?
“If only I had [fill in the blank], I would be HAPPY!!!”
This very thought has kept me stuck for years. It contributed to avoiding the areas where I didn’t feel aligned.
Shift from Surviving to Thriving
I loved my job and I was doing it with passion 24/7.
So what is the problem you may wonder?
Though mostly passion, relentless work ethic and perfectionism coping with impostor syndrome and avoidance played a role in working 24/7 as well. I used to talk about “good stress”, but at the same time I’d say: “If only I have some time off/balance, I could relax and I would be more happy”.
The problem was: My mind was never taking time off. It travelled with me wherever I’d go …
Whenever I’d take a vacation, I enjoyed it for a short while but couldn’t help but check my phone constantly, I struggled with guilt, fear of letting others down, fear of making mistakes, fear that things could go wrong. The thought patterns of a survival mindset.
I spent a decade learning a different way of living and now I am here holding up a beacon of hope.
Letting go of your superhero cape, releasing ancestral, collective, and individual conditioning and replacing these with nourishing habits may create the space for play and JOY to enter …
And shift from a survival mindset to thriving.
This is my hope and dream for humanity, creating ripples one heart at a time.
With love, from my heart to yours,
Ps: I’d love to hear about your experiences! Is there a part of my article that particularly landed for you?