Global Resilience Solutions > Category:neurosis

Escaping “Survival Mode”

We all understand that when we are confronted by danger, our body releases chemicals that trigger what’s called the fight-or-flight response. What few of us may realize is that we may be living in this state on a regular basis. For an animal in the wild, this response is something that happens when danger of some kind is encountered. For us, it is something that we can trigger by mere thought, whether memory or anticipation. Chemically, our bodies don’t know the difference. Nor do they know the difference between the threat posed by a Bengal tiger and the threat posed by a difficult boss.

There was an episode of a well-known science fiction show in which an intelligence agent had been given a brain implant designed to stimulate the release of natural endorphins as a means of resisting interrogation and torture. Exiled from his homeland, he goes through life feeling tortured, and turns on that implant more and more often until he simply leaves it on all the time. Not only does he become addicted to a chemical his own system is producing, he nearly dies when the implant malfunctions.

We don’t need an implant. Human beings have the unique gift of control over our mental reality: what we think about is just as real to us and to our bodies as what our senses perceive. Our most basic and prevalent addiction, however, is not to pleasure, but to fear, or rather the chemicals associated with it.

Humans have the ability, in the words of Dr. Joe Dispenza, to “pre-experience” and “re-experience” stress, and many of us do this as a matter of habit. What is very adaptive in situations of physical danger, the instinct to run and hide, becomes maladaptive over weeks and months and years of worry. In this emotional and chemical state of emergency, energy that would normally go to your immune and digestive systems is going to survival needs. This chemical state affects us not only on the emotional level, as fear, anger and stress become suffering and depression, but on the genetic level as well.

In other words, we become the ultimate Newtonian materialists. Our chemical state forces our brain to pay attention to the outer environment in search of the dangers we anticipate. Life is a series of mechanical problems to solve one after another after another, and is defined by our experience of the physical world, and that lens is filtered in such a way that we pay attention mainly to the bad. Our senses determine our reality. All of that magnetic, electrostatic and photonic energy we talked about a few weeks ago by which we communicate with the world on an energetic level- it descends to very low frequencies, reflecting a low level of consciousness.

How on earth does this state become addictive to us? Well, we’re adrenaline junkies. That rush is one of the few bright points on a bleak landscape, and so we keep those familiar thoughts and feelings around. The thought states behind the fight-or-flight response become the defining features of our materially-determined identity.

In this state, we are slaves to the vagaries of the material world, to luck (why does it always seem to be bad?), to our bodies, to time. Over time, emotion becomes a mood and then a personality trait. Those traits are the epitome of the maladaptive: resentment, selfishness, self-loathing, self-centredness. Letting go of those thought-patterns is the first step toward shedding the false identity which survival mode-addiction creates for us.

The opposite of survival mode, what should be normalcy, is what Dispenza calls the creative mode.  The process for getting back there is what ancient traditions have called by many names, notably “repentance”. These traditions all insist that the first step to spiritual and emotional health is letting go of false identity, in other words, the thoughts and emotions that we falsely identify with ourselves, both by releasing them in prayer and meditation and by reversing those tendencies by acting and thinking differently in our daily lives. To do this, we first have to see what these are, to be able to sit apart from our thoughts and feelings and judge them by their effects on us –  a practice the ancient Christian mystical tradition calls “watchfulness”.

The next step is much harder, because it involves creating an entirely new self, taking energy away from the old thought patterns and putting it all on who we want to be. This involves picking and choosing our responses, overriding the old ones through conscious will, learning to trust, learning to love ourselves in a positive way so that we can start to love the world. It is only once we have done all this that we are ready to begin normal life, as creative and spiritual beings capable of changing and transforming not only ourselves, but everything around us.

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger 🙂

Between Force and Surrender

If you're not as effective in every area of life as you'd like to be, you might want to consider the 
You can react in one of two ways to pretty much everything in your life.  You can use FORCE 
(willpower) to control it, or you can SURRENDER to it.  Each has its place.  One of my clients 
brought this to my attention a few months ago.  I noticed she seemed unable to do such a 
simple thing as taking just 15-30 minutes each morning to "center" herself.   On the other hand, 
she was fighting furiously (and ineffectively) with her thoughts, with those parts of herself and her 
life she doesn't like.
In other words, she was choosing to SURRENDER to laziness (a terrible enemy you never want 
to surrender to, by the way).  And on the other hand, she was using brute FORCE to fight against 
her thoughts of inadequacy, fear, anxiety, loneliness and a host of others.
Like most of us, my client is in the habit of using FORCE and SURRENDER in exactly the wrong 
We need to FORCE ourselves to lead a powerful life,  rather than giving into to our tendency to 
just let ourselves go.  That takes determination.  It always has and it always will. 
And yet, we need to SURRENDER inwardly to the truth about where we're at NOW.  That means 
we stop RESISTING our neurotic tendencies - our fears, our poor self-image, our sharp edges 
and the rest.  Why?  Because only by seeing reality as it REALLY IS can we overcome those 
And we don't overcome them by FORCE, by repressing them.  That's what created most of them 
in the first place.  When we calmly stare our uncomfortable aspects in the face in a 
non-judgmental way, we find they begin to lose their hold on us.
There are lots of people who think RESILIENCE is about being tough.  And yes, there’s a place 
for that forceful “yang” approach.  It really is vital to building a deliberate, powerful and 
stress-free life.  However…
Equally important and often ignored is the judicious use of surrender, the “yin” approach, 
particularly on the more subtle emotional and spiritual levels... to the right things at the right 
moments, of course.  In fact, it’s the only way to become a fully functional human being.
Not surprisingly, the most effective tool for learning the proper way to surrender inwardly is the 
process of meditation.  Meditation puts you face to face with the very things you've been 
repressing for years or decades, yet gives you the space and comfort to "create space" for 
them and allow them to dissolve on their own.  New meditators are often astonished at how 
much emotional content they've been repressing and how neurotic it was making them.

If you're interested in learning more about the meditation process and how to transform every 
moment of your life into a meditation that builds your health and calms your thoughts and 
emotions, you can go to: 
The irony is, you'll never learn how to surrender to the REAL, to relax deeply into the essence of 
life and discover your true self, unless you know when to apply force.   Every authentic ancient 
tradition is built on this delicate balance between force and surrender.
Your friend in the "war for peace", 
~ Dr. Symeon Rodger