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How To Go From Simply Surviving To Truly Thriving

Stephanie is an educator, herbalist, naturopath, and energy healer. She considers herself a metaphysical muse that helps inspire change.


Do you ever find yourself saying, “I didn’t ask for this!”? Well, umm, maybe you actually did. You just do not know it yet. Or, you do not know how it is possible you called a certain circumstance into your life. This could have happened during your current life time or maybe in a previous existence where your soul wanted or needed to learn something. Before getting upset and turning to examples of how someone was abused in a horrific way to make a point that he or she did not ask for it, consider the following: Were you there?, Are you in that person’s brain?, Does the person believe in God?, Was there an underlying fear that something like this could happen?, Did the person happen to think this a long time ago and totally forgot? The fact is what we focus on grows. I used to think that the undesirable situations that happened in my childhood and early adulthood were a bunch of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, that I did something wrong, or I was somehow getting my unfair share of terrible life experiences. But after attending a slew of spiritual seminars and spending more money than I care to admit, I realized the power of fear, limiting beliefs, and the lies we tell ourselves to cope with life.

Every second of every day we have the opportunity to make choices. We might not realize the power of choice until we do not have it. For example, while taking an economics course in undergraduate, I learned that businesses know the power of giving limited choices to consumers. Consumers often believe they want more variety and options: choices. But in reality, when you go to the store, think about how hard it is to make a decision about what kind of tomato to get. At first you might feel like there are not enough options when you cannot make up your mind. You say to yourself, “If only they had what I was looking for.” But honestly, you do not even know what you are looking for most of the time. If you did, your choice would be easy. You would say, “I’m making a Caprese salad so I need beefsteak tomatoes.” You would not even care that there are five other varieties available that day. Corporations have done the research and know this from an economic and practical point of view. I will be addressing the concept of limited options from a real life and spiritual point of view. The reality is there are 15,000 varieties of tomatoes in the world. Your local supermarket has done you the “favor” of limiting your choices because most people do not really know what they want. And how many people are going to take the time to research every variety the store has to offer, let alone the world? Now this example is just about a tomato. Tomatoes not quite your thing, just replace tomato with some other food item or product you tend to buy, like clothes. The point is, it does not matter what the item is, limited choice can be beneficial. Now, let us get back to the choices we have to make every day as a human who is inundated with all aspects of life. How many times can you honestly say you did not ask for something that magically popped up in your life? Consider thinking that you have too many bills to pay. As you park in a metered zone, all you keep thinking about is how you hope you do not get a ticket because you already have enough bills. Then, low and behold you come out of the store to find a parking ticket. Now you say, “Oh my goodness. Why did this happen. I hoped it wouldn’t happen. This is the last thing I need. I just knew this would happen”, and on and on. Well, you actually thought the thought. And because you phrased your thought in a negative form, you got what you “didn’t” expect or want. The universe does not hear “no” or “not”. So when you say you do not desire something, if you are putting your thoughts out randomly, you get the opposite of what you anticipated.

How often do you betray yourself?

Hopefully the above example gives you a peek inside how powerful your thoughts are. And maybe, just maybe, you unintentionally are creating undesirable results in your life. Consider this, How often have you betrayed yourself? At first you might not think this directly or indirectly applies to you. However, consider all the times you have doubted that you could do something. In a way, this is a betrayal. You are telling yourself, I do not believe in me. But sometimes the betrayal is the blessing. It is through our failures and not showing up for ourselves enough times that can prompt the change we need. You owe it to yourself to show up for yourself. Oftentimes, you are the only one who can show up for you. Relying on outside forces to dictate your level of happiness, satisfaction, success and so on is a setup for failure and disappointment. Now we can start to piece together how we can get stuck in survival mode and not progress to thriving.

Did you ever think that if you were just in the right place, the right environment, or had the right amount of money, the right amount of support, the right number of followers, and et cetera that everything would be just fine? You are never in the wrong place. Sometimes you are in the right place looking at things the wrong way. Please note that this is focused more on your thoughts and not freak occurrences or horrific incidents that are part of the randomness of life. One of the best ways this point hit home for me and truly started to resonate was when I came across the following statement: The same boiling water that softens a potato hardens the egg. It is about what you are made of, not the circumstances. I know while I was going through divorce I could not see a harmonious way out of many situations. My mind kept thinking, If only I could find a safe place for me and my children all will be well. Or, If only I was making more money I could rebuild faster or walk away faster. None of this was true. How do I know? It is four years after divorce and from a certain standpoint, not much has changed by way of me finding the perfect place to live or making an exorbitant amount more of money. What has changed is my mindset. I have learned to adapt more quickly and to find ways to grow, thrive and make the best of my circumstances. As the inspirational quotes goes, grow where you are. If you cannot survive in an undesirable environment, how can you expect to thrive in the perfect environment? That is like putting the cart before the horse. How many times have we seen people think that once they became famous or wealthy that their whole world would change for the better, only to receive fame and wealth and to have the exact opposite happen? If you cannot budget the current money you have for your circumstances, how is adding more money going to solve anything? If you are discontent with being single, how is adding another person to your current dissatisfaction going to improve your life? The point is, if you cannot appreciate what you have, having more of the same will just be a bigger lack of appreciation. This is the same concept that you cannot solve a problem on the same level it was created.

Have you become too comfortable with your situation?

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There comes a point when focusing on survival is absolutely necessary. But thriving becomes stymied when we get stuck in the pattern of surviving. This can look like living from paycheck to paycheck, waiting for the next game changer, staying in a job instead of pursuing a career or passion, and so much more. Often we start to experience a barrage of instances in our life that just do not seem to add up. For example, all the sudden when we decide we want to go for a job promotion all of our technological devices start faltering so it becomes more difficult to submit that application. We might get to a point where we accept where we are and grow comfortable in a less than desirable living situation only to start experiencing leaky faucets, increased rent, and new noisy neighbors. Or we might decide to settle for a long standing but otherwise lackluster relationships, and all the sudden your partner becomes more unavailable, distant and less committed to compromise. Consider this God’s way of saying, “I had to make you uncomfortable, otherwise you never would have changed or moved.” You became comfortable with surviving, except deep in your heart you knew you were not truly comfortable with it. You were simply tolerating it. It started to become easier to stay with what you knew than to trust there was something better.

It can become so stifling and overwhelming that the person snaps when asked if they want vanilla or chocolate.

— Stephanie J. Bradberry

So how do you move from simply surviving to truly thriving? It begins with making a choice. Yes, back to where this writing starting. As David Osborn said, “You’re not short on knowledge or capability; you’re short on making a choice.” There are so many times when people just sit on the fence. They are absolutely paralyzed from the fear of making a choice. Their mind becomes constantly confused and every decision feels like the options are equivalent to being trapped between a rock and a hard place. It can become so stifling and overwhelming that the person snaps when asked if they want vanilla or chocolate. I know it sounds simplistic and funny, but it is a reality. Under enough stress, a person can find the most well meaning statement or choice a slight to their character or the most demanding thing ever placed before him or her. Part of the issue stems from having limiting beliefs. Not feeling worthy enough or deserving are examples. So while you might wish for something to happen, you are secretly plotting your own demise with your inner thoughts and core beliefs. You do not get what you wish for. You get what you work for. And in this case, you can wish until the cows come home. But if you have not done the inner work to re-pattern your thoughts and shift your mindset, you are a sitting duck. You become the constant dreamer that never sees anything of your dreams manifest or you get an imperfect manifestation or version of what you hoped for (remember the parking ticket scenario?). You need to move from dreams to plans, from inaction to action, from indecision to decision and from self-sabotage to self-belief.

While moving from surviving to thriving might sound simple, it actually requires the hardest work of all, changing your attitude and mindset. After all, many of us might have experienced a life of satisfactory success and do not want to rock the boat. We have become okay with being just okay. Or we have created a whole world to protect us from ourselves. It takes a lot to sit still and work on ourselves, going into those inner recesses of our heart, mind and soul to find out who we truly are and what we truly want. There is a great passage I came across online that says, “You can eat the kale. Drink the alkaline water. Take the supplements. Do yoga. But if you don’t deal with what’s going on in your heart and head, you’re still unhealthy.” This is a not so perfect analogy to inspire positivity, but it perfectly sums up how important our thoughts are and how we have trained our minds. In the movie Cool Hand Luke, the warden keeps repeating every time he reprimands Luke that he’s got to get his mind right. In this instance, getting the mind right was getting Luke to conform to prison life and who has the power. But the underlying concept is the same, the warden knew the power of the mind and re-patterning the mind so the subconscious automatically believes different. The point is, you can perform all the Jedi mind tricks in the world, but until you truly do the inner work and dig deep, you will simply survive at whatever it may be and hinder yourself from truly thriving. People give effort to what is important to them. Hopefully you have made or will prove how important you are to you.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2020 Stephanie Bradberry


Stephanie Bradberry (author) from New Jersey on August 10, 2020:

Overcoming difficult times in our lives can be challenging. But often it is our perception that either keeps us trapped in the "pain" or to be able to forgive, make peace or move to a better place in life.

One bit of advice from a spiritual advisor that helped me was, it's okay to visit the past, just don't stay there.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on August 08, 2020:

I believe that everything happens in life accepting events is a bit of a problem.

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