In life, we are all survivors, whether or not we think of ourselves that way. When we experience our first love and break up, our hearts are broken and we don't think that we will ever survive. But somehow we do, and eventually we meet someone new. When we lose our first job, whether we are fired or laid off, we may wonder if anyone will ever hire us again. But we ultimately find another job and, thus, we survive again. Other traumatic events may occur in life that challenge our survival, such as going through a divorce, acquiring a disability, or losing a child, parent, or loved one. When these types of life-changing events occur, we cry and grieve and wonder if things will ever be right again. Yet, we somehow survive.

When you reflect over your past and recall all of your negative experiences or traumatic events, you may wonder how you survived, but you did. So, how do people survive survival? Below is a list of those items that I believe help us transition through difficult phases in our lives, and that we can use repeatedly to survive survival.

1. A gut feeling that we can handle anything and are going to survive no matter what. I truly believe that all human beings are survivors, first and foremost. When faced with a difficult situation that we cannot escape, our first instinct is to think about how we are going to handle it and survive, versus giving up. We may only have moments to process what we are going to do, which leaves no time for the opposite, which is inactivity.

2. Watching others survive horrible events (e.g., natural disasters, shootings) and using them as role models. Even if we have not experienced a tragedy that others have, but we see that they survived, it helps us to see that survival in those types of situations is possible.

3. Fighting when you think you can't fight anymore. However exhausted a person may feel when battling a problem or working through a tragedy, they may have to rest at some point but eventually they will pick themselves up and continue the fight. The more important something is to you, such as protecting your children, the harder you will fight to ensure their safety.

4. Knowing that survival is a process, and that working through difficult situations or traumatic events takes time. Although some people do process issues and problems more quickly than others, be careful not to compare yourself to them. Also, there are people who try to resolve issues and problems too quickly, not taking sufficient time to process through what they need to, to heal and move on. It is important to take one day and one step at a time so you don't get overwhelmed. Everything will heal itself in time, as long as we remember that it takes time.

5. Getting the support you need. You can seek support from family members, friends, or other people you trust, whether it is solely to talk and vent, or solicit ideas and thoughts related to resolving the issue or problem. However, if you feel your family members and friends cannot help you in the manner you need, perhaps it is best to contact a professional counselor, therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist. These professionals are trained to help you work through childhood traumas or negative experiences. Or, you can contact a coach. Certified coaches help you to resolve issues, achieve goals, and make changes, working from the present forward. They focus on the present and future, not the past.

If you have a friend who needs your support, it is generally best to simply listen to them, as your support is often more important than your advice. By listening and providing the opportunity for people to discuss their situation and express their feelings in relation to it, they will usually figure out, on their own, what their next step should be.

We will all experience situations in life that require survival skills. As we get older, and encounter more situations that require these skills, we learn that things will get better, no matter how hard they seem at the time. We need to believe that we can survive; learn from other survivors; continue to fight, although we may need to rest periodically; know that surviving a negative experience or traumatic event is a process that takes time; get the support we need; and remember to take it one day and one step at a time.

Copyright 2010 © Sharon L. Mikrut, All rights reserved.

Author's Bio: 

If you want to make positive changes in your personal and/or professional life, then working with Executive & Life Coach, Sharon L. Mikrut, is the solution. Although her specialty is in partnering with nonprofit executive directors and managers to maximize their resources in a competitive environment, she is passionate about working with all individuals committed to personal and/or professional growth. Visit her website (, Nonprofit Professionals blog (, or Empowerment blog ( and sign up for her free monthly nonprofit or life coaching newsletter.