There are many circumstances we faced in life that throw us into a state of self preservation. You would understand this language better if I was talking about something physical such as feeling threatened by a bear.
But there are seven areas of life and we can drop into self-preservation in each of them. We can feel financially threatened, mentally threatened, socially threatened, career threatened, spiritually threatened, relationship threatened and of course health threatened.
And it doesn’t have to be all that big of a situation to throw us into the state of self preservation. I remember the last time I got a Sydney parking ticket in Bondi Beach for $350 and for a few seconds feeling like I had been raped.
It also happens from time to time when I go ocean swimming and there are large waves. Swimming from the beach and getting out through the break when there are waves really close together breaking, sometimes there’s a sense of panic starts to emerge as it becomes really hard to breathe in the white froth. In this situation I feel the inclination to go into self-preservation mode but I know if I do I will probably drown.
The most common symptom of self preservation is a panic attack. But feelings of overwhelm, regret, hurt, sadness and and the feeling of being diminished by somebody, which is very often just them giving us criticism we didn’t like, can put us into a state of self preservation.
For most of us there is a standard response when we go into this state of self preservation. There are those who become aggressive. There are those who become withdrawn and passive. There are others who cry. And there are others who argue. Some people even criticise themselves when they go into a state of self preservation for getting into a state of self preservation.
You can you summarise self-preservation. It is a fear of the future.
Most fear of the future results in some form of anxiety. And so we can clearly say that when we feel that we have gone into a state of self-preservation we fear the future. And I think it is in this state that we meet our worst self.
So to be clear it doesn’t have to be a real threat. For example somebody might give us a criticism, somebody might accuse us or insult us, but ultimately whatever it is happening we link it to something important that we do not want to lose in the future. Whether it be our reputation, our status amongst friends, our brand of business, our financial security or simply our good looks, when it is important to us and it is threatened in our perception, we fear the future and that triggers a whole series of events that we will live to regret.
And every decision we make in a state of self preservation will be wrong.
When we fear of the future we make decisions to eliminate the fear rather than cause the future we want. As an example a person who is single who fears being alone for the rest of their life, will start dating different people and their selection of new partner will be based on overcoming the fear of the future, being alone. Once they become embedded with that person, and the fear of the future is gone, they will then start asking what sort of partner would I like if I didn’t fear the future. And of course it will definitely not be the one they have chosen.
This is why a vision is very important. When you undertake a vision quest during your 30 day challenge or at any time during your coaching program that vision needs to stand the test of time. If you are in a healthy space when you do that vision, in other words in a state of gratitude, presence, certainty and love, you will create a fear free vision. And that is why it is crucial not to change your vision frequently.
It is also why a vision is best done during a period where you do not feel you are in a state of self preservation from any aspect of your life. This is why we undertake discard process, change our diet, and get the basics of life right in our environment so that we are not building a new vision based on an emotional scar. It is also why a vision is best done in the company of a coach or a teacher who is not immersed in your fears to make sure that you are tuning into the future rather than reacting to a present circumstance.
The other aspect of a state of self preservation is to acknowledge that they happen all the time and you can process the fear. For example there have been times in my life in business where I have not been able to guarantee that I can put a shirt on my own back little loan pay the school fees of my children. I was not so worried about this because I had arranged with some close friends to create a bridge just in case my fear manifested. Once I have the security that the worst case scenario would be survivable, the fear of the future went away and I got out of self preservation and back into a healthy state of business.
However, that is not the only solution to a business trauma. My ex partner, had the lifelong habit of running out of money. She would invest all her liquid cash into winning multi million dollar contracts and sometimes not be successful. Occasionally she would be locked out of her offices because she could not pay the rent which meant her 20 employees didn’t get paid this week. As her partner, I could not imagine myself being where she was and she would occasionally reach out for a loan to buy groceries. Is the most amazing thing was that she very rarely went into a state of self preservation. And I had to be very careful not to push her into a state of self preservation. Just because I would react in one way if I was in her situation did not mean that she therefore should react the same way. She had his most incredible ability to believe in the future and trust that everything was going to be okay. And of course it always was even if she had to file for bankruptcy. It never bothered her, she didn’t lose sleep. But, if her son did not have a new pair of running shoes to go to his private school class, every shackle on her body would rise up in fear and she would make absolutely ridiculous decisions in order to make sure he had new school shoes.
On one occasion with her, she asked if we could get married. And I was totally into that because it’s so romantic. We had homes in Sydney and New York and travelled frequently between the two. And so we picked a date six months out. And then my fear of the future started because her expectation of our wedding and my expectation of our wedding with two very different things. In order for me to unhitch myself from her plans for the wedding I simply said I am not going to spend $100,000 on the wedding and would be happy to have a small ceremony in Sydney on the beach. Which was in complete contrast to her plan. So with the help of her parents she made this extravaganza plan. At no time did I feel the need to be in self preservation because I was looking forward to the event and being married. However, things didn’t quite go the way she planned.
The wedding was set in a five star hotel in Bali. Because of the difficulty gaining a wedding certificate in Bali we decided to bring our own celebrant from Australia. We also paid the airfares for 40 people to fly over and stay in relative luxury for five days all expenses paid. I kept reminding my soon to be bride that this extravaganza was not on my list of expenses this year and it was all, well most of it, on her and she was okay with that. I guess she had a dream of that fairytale wedding. So my entire family and hers and all her friends came to Bali and eventually attended our wedding ceremony in this five-star hotel and enjoyed a banquet and fit for a king and queen. And I can still remember the moment we went to check out of the hotel after staying for five days in the honeymoon suite. Our account including the banquet was in the range of $35,000. And she had no credit left on her credit card. And there I was standing at reception with my new bride who was unable to pay the bill.
So I did. At this moment in time I guess you can say my fear of the future, the anxiety that we would be put in a Balinese jail was greater than mine desire to preserve my wealth. I still to this day wonder if this was premeditated on her part. But either way I paid for most of the wedding. I remember her close friend who is one of Australia’s leading fashion designers hand making her dress which was one of the most magnificent full-length flowing dresses I’ve ever seen meticulously created. I paid the $11,000 for that too.
In the five years we were together, my business escalated from a small Australian consulting firm to an internationally recognised organisation focused on human development. Her mastery was branding and I was rebranded several times. The quality of work she did was second to none and took many of the biggest businesses in the world and and rebranded them including the Australian Olympic games. We did for sure love each other and enjoyed a beautiful romance, but because I had piggybacked my business on her acumen, I had also become very dependent on her.
It was a really important period in my life. Learning how to Love somebody but not vacillate with them in and out of their own self preservation circumstances. As a business consultant and life coach I had the opportunity every single day to intervene in her circumstances and pass judgement and give opinion on her continued willingness to put her finances on the line and in order to do the work she loved. But that would’ve been absolute self-preservation on my part. Because her financial management did not put her into a state of fear nor into a state of self preservation at all. It would’ve been my projection. In other words I would’ve been saying “if I were in your circumstances I would be in a state of fear or panic.” And that would have been transformative for her but destroyed that beautiful free spirit. What I had to do was to learn how to petition business and financial life from my own without judgement.
It is often very difficult when you see somebody you love going through challenge not to put your finger in the meat grinder and start giving free advice that was not asked for. And it is quite ironic that we fall in love with someone because of their idiosyncratic crazies and suddenly start to witness the costs that person pays for those idiosyncratic crazies and try to prevent the costs and in doing so I give advice which Ken take the very things that made them attractive and quench them.
I remember prior to the relationship I’ve described above I dated a lady who was a fashion model. She was also an actor and movie star, and had been previously married to a very wealthy man. When we met we had this amazing connection. And I really loved her silicon breasts. As we started to date and moved in together, it became conspicuous that I was not the only man in the world who thought these breasts were wonderful. And I was not the only man in the world who was celebrating a connection with her beauty. And I was not the only person in the world to see that beautiful essence of her shine through. And I was not the only guy in the world who wanted to touch those beautiful silicon breasts and kiss her. And, she like that. Again I remember going into self-preservation mode every single time we left the front door together. We would not have to go more than to the local coffee shop before someone was flirting with her and making her very happ to be flirted with. Min even gave her their business card while we were sitting together at a cafe. Yes, there was a big age difference between us and so someone could have mistaken us for father and daughter but I think the majority of guys didn’t just care. I was a nervous wreck because all of this felt threatening to me and so I frequently dropped into self-preservation mode. The self-preservation was for my future with her. And the decisions I made during this period before I realised that I was projecting my fears onto her which will more than likely cause her to be exaggerating this enjoyment of men’s attention was not going to end well. Again I had to learn to love somebody who they were and not go into self-preservation mode.
It was so interesting both in public and private. When we were in public she was always very attractive and enjoyed the attention of anybody who would provided to her. And of course this is part of the reason why she was good in her profession to. She loved the limelight. And having been married to a wealthy man she could use all of nature’s gifts to achieve this limelight on stage and off. But when she got home there was a massive overload of stress. So nervous about what people thought about it and of course because she relied on other people to build her self-esteem when nobody was around and she became accustomed to my companionship she was very self depreciating. And that is an irony given that I teach Innerwealth, and here I was in a home living with a person who practised the complete opposite. I learnt very quickly again, that you are never a prophet in your own home. But I also learnt not to put myself in other people’s shoes.
The great part about this story with my fashion model actor was that over and due to the overwhelming stress that she experienced she started to model my behaviour rather than be taught by me. Within a relatively short period of time she started to study in a technical science and started a business. She used the network of potential suitors to build that business out and it became an incredibly big success and with that she strengthened her self-worth and grew out of the need to be in the limelight all the time. It was a beautiful transformation and I can honestly say apart from a few conversations we had about the importance of her doing something that would stand the test time she did it all through her own reflection. It’s another example where my own self preservation instincts needed to be recognised by me and definitely remain self-reliant even in the closest company of a person I loved deeply.
So I guess the conclusion of this relatively long article is that there are two aspects of dropping into self preservation. The first one is that if something is going on in our life that is threatening our future we will start acting from the state of self preservation and every decision we make once we are in that state of self-preservation will be wrong. The second aspect is to make sure that we insulate ourselves from the behaviour of others that could be perceived to be a threat to our future if we were them. And to make sure we don’t project our own fears of the future onto others. As I mentioned above, with just two simple examples, it is easy to project your own fears onto another person and start giving them advice as if they would have the same inclination as you would if you were in the same circumstances. What causes people to go into a state of self preservation is very individual. And it is a continual battle to own your own journey and deal with it to make sure you do not go into a state of self preservation and it is also a continual battle not to stick your nose into someone else’s business as if they would act the same as you under their own circumstances.
That’s the end of this episode. Live with spirit. Chris