The realities: Surviving vs Thriving
A couple of years ago i started to understand the distinction between surviving and thriving. I had recently started my spiritual journey, which at that time meant I was questioning everything I thought I knew about the world. I started to experience more bliss and joy in my life just by changing my thoughts. Not too long after my first of many awakenings, I started to thrive. I was financially secure, I had a solid community supporting me, and once I started following my heart + intuition I was on a rocketship to places I had never dreamed I could go. It was, and is, amazing.
But why was I thriving when others around me weren’t?
This question plagued me.
Once my eyes had been opened to the concept of synchronicities, and the possibilities of creating my reality and manifesting my dreams, I was dumbfounded to observe people in my community not making the same leaps and bounds that I was. I talked to many peers, mostly white, cis-gendered, 20-something females, that felt stuck and were unhappy. A place I knew well. I would give them inspirational books and articles, and strongly tout the benefits of yoga + meditation for healing. But nothing changed.
Then it hit me.
Many of the people around me were in a survival mindset. Their #1 priority was ensuring continued financial security, and then controlling their way of living so that they didn’t lose said financial security. This belief drove their entire lives.
I had experienced first hand the abundance that is available to me when I followed my gut and took big leaps. I started to develop a very strong trust in the universe, knowing that I will always be provided for. I started understanding money as an energy that comes and goes, and realized that holding on tightly to it only restricts its flow.
So, I had come to a place where I was secure enough in my survival that I was able to thrive.
OK, cool. So if only my peers could shift that limiting mindset they could experience the same level of freedom and abundance that I was experiencing… right?
Well, yes and no.
For my white middle class peers, I believe it would.
But how does this approach apply to the majority of the world that is living below the poverty line? Does the homeless mother of 2 just need to shift her mindset?
Or what about the people that are systemically oppressed due to their skin color?
I imagined trying to teach this approach to the many people living in tents under the freeway in San Francisco. The whole idea seemed ridiculous, naive, disrespectful and unrealistic.
So what is it? Does the universe only support some people, but not others? Why are some able to thrive relatively easily but for others it seems not only impossible, but unimportant?
It’s easier to thrive when you are privileged.
It took a lot of courage for me to drop my societal conditioning around financial security, and the growing understanding that not everyone is able to 'create their own reality' challenged my newfound belief system in a scary way.
Then I read Layla’s article about spiritual white women and white supremacy and it all came together.
The ability to shift your mindset and easily change your life is a privilege.
And not everyone has this privilege.
It’s like, two groups of people have a dream of climbing to the top of a mountain. One group has a lot of time and money, so they hire a guide, gear up with the best equipment at REI, and do the climb over 5 days so they wouldn’t over-exert themselves.
The 2nd group is living below the poverty line, so all they have is their one pair of shoes, their clothes and a plastic water bottle. They have to get home in time for the night shift so they need to make it all the way to the top and down again the same day. They can’t afford a guide, and the task seems so impossible that it's probably safer for them to just give up and go back home.
Clearly, from the start one group is much more likely to achieve the dream of making it to the top. This is an example of socioeconomic privilege.
There's also the more classic white privilege. Using the same example this would be the guide deciding to return a call from someone whose name the guide is familiar with rather than a name from a different language, regardless of who left the message first. Or the privileged group not having cash up front and the guide allowing them to pay later, even if it's against policy, while the same guide would not afford that leniency to a group of people of color.
Both of these, I’m now learning, are different types of white privilege. As a white-presenting woman I have grown up with the privilege of societal support that people of color have not.
My ability to shift my mindset to thriving is white privilege.
The fact that I don’t worry on a regular basis about how I am going to survive, is white privilege.
So, what are we going to do about it?
*I am half Mexican, yet present as white and have benefitted from white privilege.