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Moving from Survival to Thrival

Very early on in our development our nervous system begins taking on information and establishing connection, attunement, and integration. From before we even emerge into the world our nervous system receives messages. Messages from the environment and messages from our experience inside the womb.

Survival to Thrival
Survival to Thrival

We are attuning, connecting, and integrating before we are even born. Our organism is designed to survive. To survive by any means possible. Surviving means getting to the next second, the next minute. Surviving does not mean happiness, contentment, or peace.

I recently attended (virtually) a talk held during the annual trauma conference in Boston where Dr Ron Siegel talked about the anthropological benefits of being a stressy-stressor. He spoke of our ancestors hanging out on the plains stressing about the predator that was there last month, that plant that made a child sick, and whether or not the next hunt would yield enough food. Our ancestors were not the chilled out relaxed ones basking in the sun and enjoying their surroundings. Those distant cousins didn't live to tell the tale. Our stressy great great great etc. grandparents on the other hand, stressed enough to make sure that they survived, their children survived, and we are born to follow in their footsteps. Hearing this explanation for why I cannot turn off the stressy overactive parts of my brain was hugely validating and relieving. It even gave me a sense of entitlement and appreciation for my natural stressy responses.

However, as important and helpful as these stressy responses are at getting us through the next second or minute, they do not allow for the elusive appreciation of the moment and the ultimate goal of my brand-new word – “thrival.”

Survival asks the question; What do I need to do in this moment to get to the next moment? Thrival asks the question; What is possible? What is my deepest desire?

Thrival asks hungrily: How can I get more connection, attunement, and integration?

Thrival is the outcome when we follow what Glennon Doyle calls in her book, Untamed, “Knowing.”

Knowing leads to thrival, and thrival makes our heart's flower open with hope and possibility.

I’m an expert at survival and just a beginner at thrival, but I’ve had a little taste and thrival is deliciously moreish.


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