When you hear the words “survival skills,” what picture do you see in your mind? Being lost at sea? Being trapped in a burning building? Being stranded in a forest? Being left alone in a strange place?
In these scenarios, survival skills are essential to save your life. However, I am referring to a different set of “survival skills.” I am talking about the (subconscious) survival skills you learned (or taught yourself) as a child to comfort yourself. The skills that you used when mom and dad were yelling at each other. The skills that you used when you were being ignored. The skills that you used when you didn’t feel “good enough.” The skills that you used when you felt like you had to be perfect.
Look at the underlined words above: lost, trapped, stranded, left alone… all words that describe surviving, in terms of saving our physical lives; not words we would want to use when describing our emotional lives. The very words that could save your physical life in one scenario could harm your mental life in another.
Doesn’t everyone “think” this way? I get this question in my “butterfly room” all the time (my butterfly room is my coaching room where transformation takes place), and it always amazes me that people truly can’t believe that others “think” differently. “It seems so normal,” I hear. “Yes, it’s normal for you,” I say. “Normal” is a funny word because it has so many different meanings, depending on who is using it. When we hear the word “car,” or “tree,” we can all see a very similar image in our mind… but say the word “normal” and everybody has a completely different visual.
Survival skills are a huge part of our “normal.” They guide us, complete us, calm us, protect us, etc., and that feels comfortable. However, they can get in our way as adults. The survival skills that comforted us in our childhood no longer serve as adults. If we do not grow emotionally, we stay stuck in a 5 year old emotional survival mode. Which doesn’t work when we are 30, 40, or 60.
For example, if I am 60 and I have never learned to read, you could put me in a kindergarten classroom and on a literacy level, I am equal to a five year old. I have not learned the skills to read, just like the kindergartner is learning the skills for the first time too. This situation makes perfect sense to most people. However, when you talk about emotional skills, most people assume they have them – or worse – they don’t even consider them at all.
Schools don’t teach us how to transition those “survival” skills into skills that will serve us later in life. Sadly, many times school is the very place we have to use our survival skills. And in many cases, our parents haven’t worked on their own pain, so they have no idea either. They’re just living in their “normal” too, and now we (the next generation) get to deal with OUR pain and THEIRS… and the cycle continues.
You might be wondering, if you don’t learn these skills at school or home, how can a human being transition those old childhood survival skills into skills that will serve them? BY LEARNING NEW SKILLS THAT REPLACE THE OUTDATED ONES! This is called Emotional Intelligence!
Facing the truth is painful, but if you want to be an emotionally intelligent person, you must do just that. Depending on your age, this process will feel different. If you are 20 and you want to “develop” yourself for a specific career or position within a company, it may be quicker and easier to learn those necessary skills than if you are 50 and you are trying to make sense of a lifetime of pain. The pain you feel from these survival skills compound with every passing year. No different than learning to read, you are not going to gain these skills just because you had another birthday. Years may pass, but you are still at the same level emotionally.
The only way to TRULY comfort yourself is to face the pain head on and create your own “normal.” By doing this, no one else will have to deal with the pain that you never dealt with. Once you decide to walk this “emotional intelligence” path, your relationships will improve, your health will get better, your happiness will increase, your confidence will rise, your strength to “deal” and “cope” will become easier because you have learned the emotional intelligence skills to thrive!
It’s never too late to become emotionally intelligent. Don’t let your pain become someone else’s pain. Be a thought leader. Be a learner. Take responsibility and develop into the person you are meant to be.
Aren’t you exhausted from the weight of your pain? Don’t let another day pass you by. Learn a new skill (or 2 or 3) and leave a legacy of empowerment. You owe it to yourself to at least try.