The danger of operating in ‘Survival’ mode

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been exploring the topic of unhelpful beliefs, stories and scripts.

A few people have asked me why we behave in ways or repeat patterns that actually do us no good at all – and even though we know it, we seem unable to do anything about it.

If you’ve followed my last two week’s blogs, you will  know by now HOW to do something about it.

But I think it’s really important for us all to understand that when we feel threatened, unsafe or fearful we go into survival mode and behave like primitive animals – fighting, running away, freezing or appeasing.  But of course this short term survival strategy doesn’t always lead to successful long term outcomes for us or others.

So a people-pleaser survives by not rocking the boat;  ‘I didn’t drown – I survived’!

The downside?  Voice not heard, difficult issues not dealt with, internal stress.

A perfectionist survives by doing everything perfectly – even when it doesn’t need to be perfect.

Long term impact?  An unnecessary focus on minute detail at the expense of the more important stuff; overwork and even burnout.

A person who is ‘no good at presentations’ avoids doing them (or goes off sick every time they have to do one). ‘I avoided it!  I survived’!

Long term impact?  Bad reputation  for landing other people in it and potentially career limiting.

One of the things leaders and all of us can do is to encourage an environment where people aren’t continually in ‘survival’ model.

If the environment you are working in is one of fear, mistrust, backstabbing and blame – I’m pretty sure there will be a lot of ‘survival’ beliefs and behaviour in place.

And that is helping no-one.