Ep. 53: Survival mode or drama mama?


Show notes

Survival mode is supposed to be a phase that helps save your life. It is not meant to be how you live. - Michael Rosenthal

So why is it that we tend to throw ourselves into that mode, long after survival is not an issue? We've got answers! This week we unpack how to tell the difference between actual survival mode and a drama loop and why you might be thriving on "surviving".

We talked about

  • what we’ve been watching lately and similarities to Dexter, Lifetime specials, and Modern Family

  • Meadow reading a book by candlelight and other books in our orbit

  • going back to watching quality shows like The Wire, Breaking Bad (or not), and Mad Men

  • Laura’s “We Are the Luckiest” course (now open to everyone) going on sale and what it’s all about

  • what is survival mode, where does it come from, and how to know when you’re stuck in it

  • the difference between survival mode and self-preservation and how adrenaline plays a part

  • how drinking kicked off survival mode for Laura and affected everything from her eating habits to her money situation

  • telling ourselves terrible stories in an attempt to change and the difference between hyper-vigilance and survival mode

  • how survival mode can affect your spending (and earning) and what survival mode is really about

  • what Meadow’s glassblowing dad taught her about money during her childhood and frustration at how he spent paydays

  • the true fear faced by those who inherit or make a lot of money

  • how to get out of survival mode by taking an honest look at your adrenalized state our experiences with the adrenalized state in the worlds of advertising and social media

  • noticing patterns of thought (and our greatest hits, sometimes playing every minute, for many years)

  • how survival mode is merely pretending to do something instead of actually doing something

  • extending your horizon to longer time-lines and one way this radically changed Meadow’s life

  • not running out of toilet paper anymore and other changes being made in Laura’s household

  • re-capping the four steps of getting out survival mode, and final words of advice


“I could always use drinking to create a survival mode situation.”

“Underneath it all, you do want to change. You just don’t know how to make yourself change.”

“I had this deep deep deep sense that if I wasn’t adrenalized all day, I was gonna fail.”

“The more in dysfunctional survival mode you are, the shorter your time-line is. So you might be just trying to make it to lunch...to the end of the meeting...to the end of whatever.”

Ask yourself

  • How does being in survival mode affect your spending (and your earning)?

  • How often are you living in an adrenalized state? How is it serving you or what is it distracting you from?

  • What are your patterns of thought?

  • What action can you change or how can you behave differently?

  • What is your current horizon for money, shelter, food, and safety? How far out do you plan for each?


Netflix’s You and Schitt’s Creek

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Love and Ruin and The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

“We Are the Luckiest” 8-week course with Laura McKowen

Russ Hudson’s Enneagram Types

The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk

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Spiritualish is hosted by Laura McKowen and Meadow DeVor. Sometimes spiritual, always inappropriate. New episodes drop every Thursday.

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