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Episode 135 - From Survival To Thrival


In last week’s episode, I talked about how everything happens. All kinds of things and everything you could think of is going to happen and be a part of the human experience. Sadly, this includes things that bring pain and sorrow, heartbreak and devastation. And at times we find ourselves caught in the grip of a personal crisis that leaves us in survival mode. We’re just trying to make it to the end of the day. And then we wake up the next day just trying to make it to the end of that day. Survival mode is normal after a crisis.

I was there not long ago.

But just surviving isn't enough. It’s not what we’re made for. We are meant to thrive and live life abundantly. When Jesus was preparing to leave this earth He said, “I came so that they may have life and have life abundantly” That's John 10, verse 10. The abundant life He is talking about is not just the extraordinary life we will experience after we die, but life as we live it here still on earth. The definition is “absolute fullness of life. Life real and genuine.” Living a life real and genuine sounds amazing, right? It's a life God wants you to live, full of peace and satisfaction and confidence, knowing who you are and whose you are. Jesus continued on saying, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you.” That's John 14, verse 27. The Biblical definition of peace for the Christian Jesus gives is "the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is. It includes security, safety, and the ability to prosper (a bounty of gladness) without hinderance." Nothing hindering the peace filled, abundant life. Jesus finishes this thought by saying, “Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” He does not want any of His children to live in fear, or worry, or panic. Yet, these are the things we experience when we’re in survival mode when we’ve experienced a personal crisis or something traumatic.

So, what is thrival? And is that even a word? I used it the other day when talking with a friend and I admitted it was just a word I made up. In looking it up, though, I found that some people emphatically believe it’s a word. So, I’m going to embrace it. Regardless, thrival (coming from the word “thrive”) can be defined as “an optimal state of health, vitality, joy, and well-being; to prosper." Thrival means "to be fortunate or successful; to grow or develop vigorously; to flourish.” Is it me or does the definition of thrival sound just like the definition of Jesus’ word “Peace”? This is what we are supposed to be experiencing, and it’s born out of a desire to want to feel better, do better, and live better. To experience the aliveness of life. Words we might recognize as “aliveness” are awareness, mindfulness, receptiveness, alertness, attentiveness, preparedness, readiness.

The reason I bring attention to the definition of “aliveness” is because we can certainly be alive and not have awareness, or mindfulness. We can be alive and not be alert or attentive; or prepared or ready. In fact, we can be alive and also be numb, absentminded, oblivious, unaware, careless, preoccupied, giving inattention to the details of our lives - all of which are the opposite of “aliveness”. If you are interested in hearing how to live more in “aliveness”, please listen to Episode number 40 – Are You Alive? Then be sure to follow up with episode 41 – I’m Alive. What Do I Do Now? to get some practical next steps.

Today’s episode might be a pre-cursor to those two episodes. This is how – in these four steps - God guided me personally to move from the instinctual survival mode and transition into thrival mode – the “aliveness” of life. Surprisingly, did you know that you actually have a thrival instinct too? It may not be primary to our brain, but it’s there. You were built by God in such a way that you don’t just survive in life, but you thrive. That’s the instinct that drives us to push our personal limits and to expand ourselves – intellectually, emotionally, and physically. We’re born for it. Sometimes we get stuck in survival mode. And it’s here that we need a little push to understand why we need to get out and some suggestions of how to get out. That’s why I’m excited to share with you the 4 steps God took me through.

So, let’s identify survival mode. Survival mode is a natural response to crisis. The heightened stress, fear, and hyper vigilance that we feel are normal reactions to our fight, flight, or freeze response. So, this is a normal state we can find ourselves in directly after a crisis. But, like I said, the problem is sometimes we get stuck here. And when we stay in survival mode for long periods of time, it can lead to long-term negative effects on our mental, emotional, and physical health. It can keep us from experiencing grief in a healthy and healing way. If we’re thinking, “I just need to do the things that will get me through one more day,” then your brain is going to think that the goal of each day is just to survive it. Everything becomes, to your brain, a challenge to face and overcome. Everything. Even going to the grocery store – your brain has primed it as a challenge. It’s going to be looking out for danger around every corner. You’re going to be on high alert – hyper vigilant. Imagine the mental energy this is going to take and the physical exhaustion that will result. Just going to the grocery store. Now, imagine if you had to do something that required more brain power like going to work. Just surviving is not, in the long-term, going to be sustainable before you have a mental and/or physical breakdown.

What you need to understand is that our brains are wired to survive first, not thrive. We do the easiest things and keep ourselves locked down tight with limitations because our brains are literally wired to do this, not because anything is wrong with us. Our brains are programmed to do the easy thing, unfortunately, for survival. But we don’t get stronger or better or healthier by doing the easy things - by just surviving the day.

So, if that’s what we want to do, to get stronger and better and healthier, it’s going to take that part of our brain that makes sound decisions for our future – the pre-frontal cortex or the adult brain. It’s going to be important to recognize and acknowledge that we’re in survival mode. Accepting where we are so that we can take steps towards moving forward into thrival mode.

That’s the first step – Accepting that we need to move from survival to thrival.

Acceptance is embracing the reality of your life as it is right now – including all the weakness, pain, and suffering that comes with hardships and brokenness. There’s no room for denial here. It’s a truly honest assessment of where you are in life and where you need to go from here. I remember so clearly after my husband died when I recognized I was just in survival mode. There were times when I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it through the next minute or hour, let alone the day. In reality, I was getting by each day, but each day was a fight to keep my head above water. I was slowly drowning in despair and hopelessness. My breakthrough came when I saw what was happening and accepted that I needed to move away from just merely surviving. Even though in this place of survival I was weak, I accepted that there was a supernatural strength available to move me towards thrival. And that ushered me straight into step two.

Step two to thrival is Trust.

That’s when God whispered, "Tricia, you can live another beautiful life," I knew that with His help I could. I also knew that there was a practical way, something I could do. And at that point, trust was the biggest step I took. It began with choosing to say "yes" to another beautiful life. Trusting that God’s grace and power were going to be my strength to move forward. God said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12, verse 9

Trust is where we decide to consciously move out of survival mode if we truly want to live. And I don’t mean “you have a pulse and your heart is beating” kind of living. I mean the kind of living that allows you to enjoy the experience of being alive. Trust that with God’s help this is even possible. Proverbs 3, verses five and six say, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight."

It’s probably true that you have some serious doubts that it’s even possible to thrive. Thriving seems so far-fetched for you; so far off. It’s okay if you feel this way. But I want to point out that that is you leaning on your own understanding; that’s you seeing what only you can see from your limited vantage point; from your point of pain and suffering. But this scripture is encouraging you not to rely on yourself at this time. Instead, rely on God and trust Him with your whole heart. Trust that with His power and His guidance He will lead you in His divine plan for your life. Trust that God is straightening your path towards an abundant and fulfilling life. Trust that He is caring for you and making provisions for you. Trust that His promises for hope, healing, and restoration are yours in Christ Jesus. Trust that He takes what was meant for evil, that which was meant to destroy you and keep you down, He takes that and turns it for good. He’s in the redeeming and restoring of broken stories business. Trust Him to do that for you.

Step 3: Thrival through Purpose

After I said “yes” to moving out of mere survival, I chose to cooperate with God in the healing in order to create “another beautiful life.”

As we let go and trust God with our next steps to thrival, we are able to see how He uses our story – no matter how awful and broken – and uses it for a very good purpose. Everyone has been created with a unique and specific purpose. A purpose that God designed for you even before you were born. Ephesians 2, verse 10 says, "For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." To find your purpose, friend, you need to understand that God will use everything you’ve been through and experienced in your life. To hear more about this step, I’ve recorded a whole episode just on purpose - episode 133 – Your Life Re-Purposed if you want to dive in deep on this subject.

And lastly, Step 4 is Thrival through Openness

It’s not enough to accept where you are, and it’s not enough to just trust that things could be different. We have to act on that trust, and that means to be open to the possibility of stepping into something beautiful again. That’s exactly what I had to do - demonstrate trust by being open to the “next.”

God said in Isaiah 43, verses 18 and 19, "Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland."

Honestly, we probably aren’t going to forget the things that left us broken and suffering – those "former things." And I don’t believe that’s what God intended when He said that. But I do believe He meant exactly what He said when He said do not dwell on it. Dwelling, ruminating, rolling it over and over in our heads are what keeps us stuck in survival mode. Thrival requires us to step away from the ruminating, step out of your comfort zone, and requires a willingness to do something new, try new things, and welcome new opportunities. Thrival is where you break free from the limitations survival put you in – the things it’s keeping you from doing. This is where growth happens, where true meaning and purpose is lived out, and where you are truly living.

Friend, are you ready to experience life differently? To move away from the place of just surviving to the next minute or the day? It’s important that we take responsibility for how we are experiencing life and commit ourselves to making a change. By implementing these four steps - acceptance, trust, purpose, and openness - you can break free from the limitations of survival mode and step into a life of abundance and fulfillment. Remember, you are not alone on this journey. God is with you every step of the way, guiding and empowering you to embrace the fullness of life. He wants to help you move from survival to thrival in the fullness of life.

If you’ve found yourself in survival mode for a long period of time now and you’re ready to move into thrival but are needing some help, I can help you. As a Life Coach to Christian women, I’ve been able to help so many women in this same spot. And I’d love to help you, too. Book a free 30-minute call on my calendar so we can chat about it. The link is in the show notes.

And don’t forget to grab the Guide that will help you work through this topic. It’s like a little bit of Life Coaching at home. The link to that is in the show notes, as well.

Have a wonderful week, friends. See you next Wednesday for the next episode of Another Beautiful Life.


Have the things you’ve come up against, the pain and sorrow, the heart break and devastation, have they made you numb? Have the hardships pushed you into the corner where you’ve sat absentminded of living life to the full, oblivious and unaware of the possibilities of newness and redemption and hope? Are you merely surviving the day? If you can identify with any of this, hear your Heavenly Father calling you to move from survival to thrival, just like He did me.

Join me today as I give you the 4 practical steps God guided me through to thrival.

Get the work-alone Guide here:

Read the Podcast transcript here:

Are you wondering how Life Coaching works? Would you like a free, 30-minute session? Click this link to set up a Consult Call:

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