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When someone is in active addiction, their mindset is on survival. They live from moment to moment, simply trying to survive. Survival mode means constantly living in a state of distress. Part of the recovery process is learning to switch that mindset and not let stress interfere with your ability to be more productive. Recovery gives you the opportunity to thrive.

What Does Survival Look Like?

When you are living in survival mode, there is no long-term planning or perspective. In fact, there is no looking ahead at all. Everything hinges on living from one minute to the next, focusing only on reacting to the most immediate needs in the moment. In active addiction, much of this comes from seeking substances, as the brain is focused on accessing the next drink or drug.

Living in survival is emotionally draining, as the mind and body have no downtime, no time to rest or replenish. You simply move from one crisis to the next, reacting to the world around you. This is actually an inefficient use of both emotional and physical resources, as you spend all that you have trying to solve your immediate problems, and you have nothing left in reserve for the future. Staying in this mindset of survival mode can lead to emotional and financial depletion.

How Thriving Differs From Survival

When you are thriving, the stressors may still be there, but the most significant difference is that you do not react. Instead, you are in control and able to make choices about what you want to do, how you will act, and where to focus your resources. You make decisions based on what you want to achieve and where you are going rather than responding only to stress.

Thriving is about your choices reflecting your beliefs and your actions reflecting those choices. You make choices about how you want to experience the world, the attitude you want to have, and the opportunities you want to create for yourself. You take the time to take care of your mind, body, and spirit so that you will be well and stay well. Thriving is about learning, growing, and continually exploring the world each day. Thriving is giving yourself permission to feel and experience life fully.

Learning to Regulate Emotions to Change Your Mindset

One of the most significant ways that you can change your mindset from surviving to thriving is by learning to regulate your emotions. Within various types of therapy, you can learn different techniques to help you with emotional regulation. Mindfulness can help you to focus only on the here and now, removing the emotional distractions and judgments, and notice what you are feeling in the moment. In using mindfulness, not only can you regulate your emotions, but all of the other distractions are pushed away by focusing on your breathing, the sensations around you, and what is happening now.

By learning emotional regulation, you learn to reduce the need for those reactionary survival behaviors. Instead of responding to the stress as if it is an immediate threat, you are able to use emotional regulation and look at the situation clearly, then determine the best course of action. Over time, situations that previously caused a survival reaction will no longer feel so immediate or intense, and you will be able to thrive.

How Thriving Feels in Your Body Compared to Survival

During survival mode, your body is tense, you may have higher blood pressure and heart rate, and difficulty sleeping. Your body is always ready to spring into action at the slightest crisis, which can be exhausting.

Comparatively, thriving helps your body feel relaxed, with normal blood pressure and heart rate, and the ability to sleep well. Your body is healthy and your physical, mental, and emotional wellness needs are being met, which is invigorating. Thriving feels free, hopeful, and healthy.

Thriving in Recovery

Making the change from living in survival to thriving is part of the recovery process. No longer do you need to live in crisis, from minute to minute, constantly reacting to your world. As your mind and body heal from addiction, you can also change your mindset. Learning how to regulate your emotions will allow you to make better choices and act on your world instead of reacting to the world around you.

Thriving is being empowered and having the freedom to choose how you want to live each day. Thriving is being able to regulate your emotions so that you are in control. Life will still happen, but you will be able to choose how you react. Living in survival is not truly living. When you are thriving, you are truly alive.

Learning to switch your mindset from survival to thriving is an essential part of the recovery process. You can change from a mindset of living in the moment to a mindset of loving every moment. By learning to regulate your emotions, you can take control of your life and learn to thrive. At West Coast Recovery Centers, we can help you learn to thrive. Our therapists can teach you emotional regulation and how to change from survival mode to thriving. We offer truly individualized care with both evidence-based and holistic modalities for you to experience and choose from. We give you the structure and environment for success as you begin your recovery from addiction. Our goal is to help you transition back into healthy routines through our outpatient care environments. Call us at (760) 492-6509 to learn more.

West Coast Recovery Centers ( 370135CP), Valid through July 31, 2025
Jackson House Visalia (540056AP), Valid through May 15, 2025
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