You are designed to survive.
Your body comes with complex protective mechanisms that developed to keep you alive in the face of danger. But that drive to survive at any cost comes with its own costs. And that includes blocking your natural ability to heal.
Think about our most famous survival mechanism: The fight-or-flight response. That defensive reaction sets off a flood of chemicals and hormones to keep you safe in the moment. But that protective flood can also lead to long-term harm.
Now imagine that you live in a world where you feel constantly stressed. Your survival responses never turn off. That’s how the mechanisms designed to protect you can cause lasting damage to your health.
When you’re facing something like a chronic illness, your natural survival response interferes with your ability to heal. By trying to protect you against a life-threatening illness, your survival response can cause more damage than the disease itself.
The key to healing involves transforming your survival drive to work in your favor. Only then can you promote true healing, wholeness and longevity.
What It Means to Be in Survival Mode
When your body switches into survival mode, it affects you physically, emotionally and spiritually. Survival mode is a panic state. Your body feels rushed, and it doesn’t slow down. Every cell in your body — which could include cancer cells — fights harder to stay alive.
You’re overwhelmed by stress and fear as your body’s biochemical alarm system kicks in. Your nervous system dials up “danger hormones” like adrenaline and cortisol to maximum power. Insulin levels spike. Your metabolism changes, along with the way your cells produce energy. And your immune responses get suppressed.
As part of this defensive reaction, your body calls on its secret weapon: Galectin-3, what I call the “survival protein.” Galectin-3 initiates a series of processes necessary for injury repair, especially inflammation and fibrosis (scarring). Those are crucial when you’re actually facing an immediate physical threat.
But when the alarm keeps blaring even after the threat subsides, galectin-3 stays activated. It spirals out of control, causing serious damage, and creating literal physical barriers to healing. Your body stays stuck in survival mode… and the inflammatory and fibrosis processes cross the line to become harmful.
Your body’s survival mode is fundamentally at odds with your ability to heal and thrive. The defensive reactions turn against you, fueling disease processes and premature aging.
This is the Survival Paradox.
But what I’ve learned from my research and my decades of work with patients is that we can transform it. Your body has an infinite capacity to heal itself — as long as the survival response doesn’t stand in the way.
Switching Gears from Survival Mode to Thriving
When your body gets stuck in survival mode, its defense systems sense that there’s still a threat to deal with. Since your natural defenses can’t shut down until the problem has been resolved, all of those survival processes continue.
It’s the ultimate catch-22: When you’re dealing with a chronic or life-threatening disease, it can be hard to focus on positive healing energy. You may feel like you don’t have time, like you have to rush to find a solution. But that sense of hurrying can keep you stuck in survival mode, which is harmful to your health and wellbeing.
Making the shift away from survival mode toward true healing requires slowing down … breathing … and relaxing (as hard as that sounds). Every cell in your body must experience a sense of calm and safety. This is crucial to the process, because only feelings of safety and security can turn off the survival alarm. And that allows your body to switch gears from a reactive survival mode into a harmonious relaxed state.
This jumpstarts a distinct change in your biochemistry … all the way down to the cellular level. And to expand on that positive progress, you need to create space in several important ways:
● Physically, which increases oxygenation and reduces inflammation
● Time-wise, which allows for space between actions and adds time for “letting go”
● Mentally, which adds space between thoughts to reduce fixations
● Emotionally, by learning to open your heart and mind to transform stress and adversity, which lets you release negativity, anger, and resentment to create space for love, compassion and kindness
When you create space in all of these ways, you allow room for healing energy to flow through your body. Everyone has to navigate their own path for creating space by figuring out which methods work best for them. Once you’ve found your path, you’ll use it to navigate your unique course to recovery.
How To Engage Your Healing Potential
Your healing journey starts with your personal history. Your past has created distinct pathways through which you express your biology, psychology, and the essence of your heart. And as you follow your path forward, a clearer map will start to emerge.
The starting point of your journey calls for an environment of compassion, safety and unconditional love. That’s what your body needs to transition out of survival mode so you can begin your healing journey.
Your path will include a mix of healing modalities for a holistic approach to wellness. The fundamental intention of embracing a variety of treatments is to open more doors for recovery, transformation, and healing. That gives you the opportunity to emerge with greater strength, vitality, and a more profound and satisfying experience of life itself.
A holistic treatment approach will include things you may be familiar with, such as eating an anti-inflammatory diet or getting regular exercise. And it may involve methods you haven’t tried before, such as craniosacral and visualization therapies.
Each piece adds a different dimension to your holistic personal wellness equation. Here are a few examples of how that might look for you:
- Natural healing compounds quiet your body’s alarm system and normalize cellular balance and function
- Meditation creates emotional and mental space that calms anxiety, reduces inflammation and reverses biochemical disease processes
- Breathing exercises, including slow deep breathing, help calm your mind and body while fully oxygenating your cells
These are just a few of the healing modalities you’ll learn about in my new book The Survival Paradox. You’ll find dozens of options and almost unlimited combinations you can include in your unique healing process. The Survival Paradox will give you the tools to unlock your infinite healing potential, and create your own personal pathway to abundant wellness and longevity.
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