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The #1 Joy Sapper

I know that sometimes we long for joy and yet it still seems to elude us. Joy is something that happens when we clear away the debris and things that are blocking it from rolling in. There are certain things we can do to choose joy or cause joy, and yet there are other things we can do to simply move things out of the way to allow it.

In this blog I want to address something that we each do all the time, myself included, that prevents us from accessing joy as it comes in.

That number one joy sapper is two words that you have probably heard before, and those two words are: survival mode.

I know that this is a familiar phrase for you, it is pretty popular in today’s culture to hear that it is important to thrive instead of survive.

Today, I want to talk about some characteristics of survival mode because in our heads we all have this one idea of what survival mode looks like, and there are ways that we disqualify ourselves from this label. A lot of times survival mode comes in little ways and we don’t even realize what is happening.

Here are a few of the characteristics of survival mode:

  • Thinking only about yourself it’s always “you, you ,you”. A lot of times its easy to see that when it’s someone else doing it, but not so much when it is yourself. We just get focused on ourselves and how our problems are a result of something we did, or how we need circumstances to be different. This is a defining characteristic of survival mode because a lot of times our solutions are outside of ourselves.

  • Focusing on what you lack– I’ve done this with my house and with my kids. I get focused on things like the dryer being bad, or the gutters being clogged, the van falling apart, or not having enough money. Can you relate to this? It’s easy to get into this habit of focusing on what we lack. This is a characteristic of survival mode.

  • Tallying expectations that haven’t happened – When we make a goal and we don’t quite reach it, we can get in this habit of focusing on what we are missing. Things like ” I thought I would weigh less by now.”, ” I thought I would be able to fix that.” All of these expectations we have and when they don’t happen in the time we envisioned we focus on why it hasn’t happened yet. This is a characteristic of survival mode.

  • Trying to logic our way out of feeling – If you have ever been in a loop in your mind of analyzing things you understand and realize how ineffective it is. We get in these loops of trying to figure out the problem when really all it does is keep us in the pattern of survival mode.

  • Putting too much hope and trust into ONE THING – being convinced that the only way you can survive is if this ONE thing happens. Things like, as soon as I connect with this person, my relationship will be okay. As soon as we pay off that bill, we will be in a good place. As soon as we get out of the terrible twos, I will have more energy. There is a pattern here, it is a habit. A way of life. We begin to live in survival mode as a way of life and this concept will sap the joy out of you every time. It is focused too much on the future.

In this mode, we forget that God is in control and is ultimately responsible for the results. It’s our job to obey, but he is the one responsible. We forget that we have been given everything we need and MANY things we want. We forget that he is still in the business of answering prayer and just because one answer doesn’t turn out how we anticipate doesn’t mean he isn’t doing his job.

There are places that he is answering prayers. There are places that he is showing up. A lot of times we like to camouflage him and not look at those answers because we are too focused on looking for answers in other areas.

We forget that bringing glory to God and bringing witness to other people are why we are on this planet. It is in our DNA to connect to him and his people, and if we are not feeling great it is because we have lost our sense of purpose. There is a satisfaction that comes from generously sharing with others- it’s beautiful.

But, if we live in survival mode for too long we can get in a habit and just stay there, and stay there. In fact, it gets so familiar that choosing anything else feels like a loss of control. Even though it is the direction we want to go, it feels so uncomfortable we slam the door on joy.

There are some good questions that I ask when I notice myself dropping into survival mode, all of them relate to lifting your eyes up, getting your eyes off of survival mode, and onto God and the others around you.

Ask yourself:

  • Who can I serve today?
  • Who else can I love? Who out there feels like an outsider?
  • How can I help?

There are a lot of ways you can ask yourself these questions. If you are longing to feel valued and of value, often God will send me someone who needs your help. If you are not careful and are living in survival mode, you will look at that person as an inconvenience. Even though, you just asked for a way to help you feel valuable.

There is nothing that feels more valuable than knowing you are meeting a need. Working with God brings so much value but it takes stepping out of that survival mode and recognizing that we can focus on someone outside of ourselves.

I’d love for you to consider which characteristic of survival mode stands out to you? Which one feels like what you do? Which one resonates with you most? And then, what are the things that you can remember in your life?

Just pick one, what ONE action are you going to take today so that you recognize what that number one joy sapper is and which method are you going to choose to stop it dead in its tracks so that you can experience joy?

If you found this blog valuable I would love to hear from you below. You can also listen to more about this on my podcast.

If you have any questions for me, feel free to drop them in the comments below, or if you are interested in one of my coaching services you can find them here at Mary Aldrich Coaching.

I would love to hear from you!

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