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by Cate Russell-Cole
11/02/2015 / Self Help
One of the top rating shows on Australian television was "Survivor." A group of twenty-somethings are stranded on a tropical island with a camera crew, and have to survive without power, running water or any technology or appliances. The second series was filmed in the Australian Outback, which is the desert region in central Australia. Hot, desolate, and unforgiving, there is very little water, and no recognisable food source other than insects and plant species.
Not many of us have been stranded on an island or in the desert, but we have all been stranded and trapped within distressing circumstances, having to find a way to survive as unscarred as possible, day by day indefinitely. Most of us have been through some form of abuse, relationship breakdown or bereavement. We can also suffer stress, depression, and heartache all of which can be as harsh and unremitting as having to scrounge for food and water in a hostile climate! Living on the edge, or faced with an overwhelming trauma can make you or break you. You come out knowing far more about yourself, both strengths and weaknesses, and the true value and strengths of your relationships with those around you.
The difference between who survives and who doesn't comes down to whether or not you have hope, faith and a dream for the future. You need to have the ability to call on a source of strength, and be able to look forward, and be willing to put in the necessary effort to get through what lies before you. It is a decision. You have to want to work towards the best possible outcome. A survivor is just an ordinary human being who has courage and determination, and who can call on their own and God's strength to overcome the obstacles in their lives. A survivor is not some kind of superhero or uniquely gifted star. Everyone can do it.
So how do you actually pull through when the future seems bleak, and your hopes logically look impossible? People who have been in concentration camps, survived wrecks and natural disasters, have also been asked the same question. How do you survive a horrific situation you have no way of getting out of? The most common answer was looking forward to being reunited with loved ones. The greatest human need we have is for meaningful connection with others, and memories of past times of hope and joy, pull people through. These survivors looked ahead, and when there was a goal and some reason to live, they survived when others didn't. Many prayed and called upon God's help. Other's had an innate ability to call upon their own inner reserve of strength. The ability to adapt and make the most of their current conditions was another major factor in who survived, as well as knowing when to take action and stand up for yourself, and when to remain passive. There is no use wasting your strength on a battle which will hurt you more, or put you at a greater disadvantage.
Survivors are also inspired by the achievements and positive qualities they seen in other's lives. They don't need to become a clone and copy that person, but they can see value, and are encouraged. A survivor will work out if there are better alternatives, try something new, look for answers, and talk to people rather than struggle in isolation. They will do their best to find solutions rather than letting hopelessness and more obstacles wear them down. They don't give up easily. A survivor will look fear in the face and recognise it for what it is worth. Fear is not an excuse, and they are not prone to blaming others for every unpleasant situation.
These traits help determine whether or not you will survive or be defeated. Without the conviction that there is a reason to live, and the available strength to make it, you won't survive long. Without hope and the determination to reach you goals and realise your dreams, your strength will fade. Hold onto your dreams for what you want your life to be, regardless of how it is now. It may take a long time to heal or be free of the abuse, pain or grief you are feeling, but if you can enlist the support of others and summon the courage to take one step at a time towards freedom and peace, you can and will make it one day!
This article by Cate Russell-Cole is under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Written in Australian English.
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