Madhu Einsiedler

Surviving vs. Experiencing Life – Part I

potential, growthLet us jump right into it — since jumping from task to task is what most of us are used to do anyways.

Deadlines, meetings – a day often feels like one big rush. These days for some of us even more so. Not to mention the additional pressure of the perceived need to self-optimize.

Won’t we do anything in order to being able ‘to succeed’? ‘Succeed’ aka reach defined or dreamed of or envisioned goals.

In order to reach those goals, we are using ourselves – and we are being used by most companies, may it be employers or seller – as tools-for-result.

Tools-for-result have their merits, of course. A knife to cut bread, great. Money to buy a car, yes. A car to drive to work, well. A car to fill an un-inquired desire – attention!

Let that sink in.

In order to reach those results (aka defined revenue, needed/wanted income, found happiness, an established balanced lifestyle) we ‘hoon’ our tools, ourselves (aka do sports, eat well, network, learn, make room for quality time).

This tools-for-result handling of humans I also call objectification. We handle, manage ourselves and others as if we were things, objects.

Complicated things, yes, yet still ‘manageable’. Objects that just require a bit (or more) of ‘control’, a corset to contain the ‘wild’ side but, y’know, with enough structure and clearly defined processes eventually, we, the things, we, the objects should and will behave and perform as wanted:
Do x and you’ll get y.

Most of us have learned to apply this paradigm to our lives. Feel free to play around with it. Consciously.

And again – let it sink in.

Whfollow, feel safeat this paradigm does – and that’s my hypotheses that I invite you to inquire on – it suggests and promises ‘safety’. Safety on a very basic, existential level.

“As long as I do what others tell me will work, I’ll be safe.”

What does it mean for you to feel safe? What does it take?

We all have different ways we try to achieve ‘feeling safe’.

We often try to achieve this ‘feeling safe’ through not feeling ‘unsafe’.

Not to feel (or wanting to feel) an emotion of ‘unsafe’, ‘insecure’, ‘wobbly’, ‘shaky’, ‘fearful’, ‘unsure’, ‘not-confident’, ‘anxious’, you’ll get the idea.

Every time we don’t want to feel this kind of (we like to call them negative) feelings we achieve this not-feeling by compensating.
Compensating means we use some ‘thing’ to ‘make us feel better’. Mostly do we do this through a ‘something’ from the outside: drugs, electrical devises, clothes, shoes, the house, the spouse, you’ll get the idea.

The crux here is – every time we do this, every time we use some ‘thing’ from the outside to ‘fix’ an inner feeling of unease, to fix an ‘unwanted’ emotion, every time we do this, we sort of treat ourselves as we were some ‘thing’ that needs to be fixed.

We address and handle ourselves as a thing, an object.

Welcome in the world of objectification.

We treat ourselves no other than any corporation, any marketing person and the person who came up with the term ‘human resource’.

Let that sink in as well.

I’d like to invite you to try a different approach to reaching the state of ‘feeling safe.’

  • What if you didn’t need fixing– with all your quirks and ways?
  • What if you actually beautified this world with exactly the way you are?
  • What if this world would be a lesser place without you?

Maybe life has taught you that you lack certain qualities and skills. Perhaps your social and educational contexts convinced you that you are somehow not good enough, that you have to be ‘better’, that you have to ‘improve’, that you have flaws and shortcoming that need fixing.
Maybe you have it ingrained that only when you comply and achieve what society wants you to achieve you can feel like you fit in, you can feel that you belong, you feel finally ‘safe’.

What if the need for safety would ‘only’ be some ancient remainder in your brain to protect you from a saber-toothed tiger and any other life-threatening creatures or humans?

That’s where it gets really tricky.

business, happyIt seems, we have managed to turn a lot of today’s demands into triggers, which we qualify and thus process the same way we did the ‘saber-toothed tiger then – as ‘life threatening’.

Examples? Love to!

  • The angry boss
  • The too small of a car
  • The not-hip-enough cloths
  • The not-young-enough face
  • The not-fit-enough body
  • The not-prestigious-enough job

The whole idea that we have to compete against each other in order to survive is still here!

This competition, this ‘it’s either you OR me’ mentality triggers a whole lot of feeling ‘threatened’.

And when we feel threatened, our system doesn’t give us a choice – it simply reacts. In a way it has learned to survive:

  • We fight
  • We flee
  • We freeze, we petrify
  • We divert our attention

How threatened do we feel that we need so much diversion via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, you name it?

How threatened do we feel when we go to work?

How threatened do we feel when meeting the boss? Our peers? A client?

How threatening are goals? Those goals for example the company defines for you to reach (or ‘adjusts’ based on your planning), and of course those ‘self-defined’ (are they?) goals that suggest or promise a fulfilled life? How threatening are those goals?

Goals, competition, striving – we worship adrenaline as our tool-for-result, as our god. We feel productive, energized, we successfully fought the tiger, the peer towards the next promotion, the boss for the better idea.

We have optimized the use of the ancient survival automatism.

business, triggersWe have built our market system, our professional life and thus organizations, our whole life really, on this automated survival mechanisms.

We have installed so many triggers, we are basically more or less constantly in survival mode – fighting, fleeing, freezing or diverting.

And most organizations are a wonderful example for this. We have built them to keep us on our toes, challenge us.

Isn’t that the key word? Challenge!

It assumes that once I overcome the ‘challenge’ I have learned something.

What we mostly learn though is to fight better, to escape better, to hold still better or to divert better (a whole industry has built their raison d’être on these ancient strategies).

I’ll leave you with this to let it sink in, to digest it, to reflect on it, to inquire if it’s worth for you …

In Part II I’ll talk about a shift in our thinking and acting – as an addition to the tool-to-result approach, an addition to competition, to adrenaline as our main driver – overall, an addition to the overused survival mode.

I think it’s time (21st century after all!) we play around with something new, don’t you?

I’m looking forward to your comments via email or my social media!

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