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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Holmén

Embrace Your Wild Side: Learning From Nature, There Are No Victims Only Survivors

Updated: Feb 18

By Deborah Holmén, M.Ed., NBCT, Featured article in The Good Men Project

Campers illuminated by the night sky constellations
Photo by Clarisse Meyer on Unsplash

The world we live in today can often seem daunting, causing us to feel helpless and overwhelmed. We may find ourselves trapped in a constant cycle of negative thinking, feeling like we’re victims rather than survivors. However, what if we could turn to Nature for guidance and inspiration? What if we could learn from the animals facing trauma and hardships head-on and emerge victorious?

In my book It Takes A Lot of Sh*t to Grow Beautiful Flowers: A Gardener’s Guide to Life, Nature offers invaluable insights that can help us reset our perspective and embrace our true survivor spirit.

Most of us can recall watching National Geographic specials and Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom television shows from the early 60s to the late 80s. It has now reincarnated into Animal Planet on cable television.
These television shows demonstrate how Nature proves to be the ultimate teacher, and we should all be taking notes.
Watching the lioness raising her cubs in a perilous environment fraught with dangers lurking in every corner, we see the natural instincts given to her to teach her cubs as much as she knows before she must relinquish her role as protector.
We don’t see her take out notes, lecturing all day long with her cubs watching her intently on their haunches. She grabs them by their scruff and demonstrates what they need to know about life on the Serengeti through experience and practice.
A cub’s life is rife with risk. How does a mother lioness teach her cubs about predatory lions, hyenas, fire, and floods? Paws-on experience, of course!

Learning from Nature is as easy as observation and allowing ourselves to see with a different lens, a lens we have let go dormant, our survival instinct.

Thrive in adversity

Nature is a remarkable teacher, reminding us there are no victims, only survivors. Despite the countless challenges that animals in the wild face, they continue to persevere and flourish.

From harsh weather conditions to constantly lurking predators, these remarkable creatures exhibit an incredible ability to survive and thrive in the face of adversity. Even those who fall victim to injury or trauma become a source of sustenance for others. There is much we can learn from their resilience and adaptability.

I easily could have considered myself a victim. Growing up in a dysfunctional family, I could have blamed my upbringing for any inadequacies I had. The guilt-ridden religion, a judgemental mother, and being the middle child can set anyone up to believe in.

But I had an innate ability to always look to Nature for guidance. Although there was an outside source causing my grief, I saw them for who they were and worked on myself and how I wanted to react to them. This, of course, took time, and time shares many pearls of wisdom.


Animals in the wild are adaptable. They possess an uncanny ability to adjust and respond to changing circumstances. If the environment becomes inhospitable, they move on, seeking greener pastures.

Similarly, we, too, can learn to adapt and find strength in flexibility. We may not have control over external factors, but we can control how we respond to them. By embracing change and adjusting our mindset, we can navigate life’s challenges and become more assertive on the other side.

Survival Instinct

Animals also have an innate survival instinct we have lost due to modernity. They are well aware of their surroundings and are constantly looking for danger. It’s essential to cultivate a similar sense of awareness in our lives.

We can anticipate and proactively address potential obstacles by staying present and attuned to our surroundings. Rather than being caught off guard, we can be prepared and ready to face any challenge that comes our way.

Social bonds

Furthermore, animals in the wild form strong social bonds and rely on each other for support. They understand the power of community and work together towards a common goal.

Likewise, we should remember the importance of building connections and seeking support from those around us. We can find solace and strength in unity by nurturing our relationships and leaning on our loved ones during difficult times.

Embrace change

Another crucial lesson we can learn from animals in the wild is their ability to let go and embrace change. They do not hold onto past traumas or dwell on what could have been. Instead, they focus on the present moment and adapt accordingly.

Similarly, we should strive to let go of past hurts and regrets, freeing ourselves to fully embrace the opportunities that lie ahead. By releasing the burden of the past, we can open ourselves up to new possibilities and experiences.


Animals in the wild possess an unwavering sense of resilience. They may face setbacks and hardships, but do not let them define them. They bounce back, ready to face whatever comes their way.

In our own lives, it’s essential to cultivate a resilient mindset. We may stumble and fall, but how we rise from those falls truly matters. By developing an attitude of resilience, we can overcome obstacles and emerge stronger than ever.

Nature teaches us that there are no victims, only survivors. By taking cues from the animal kingdom, we can embrace our innate survivor spirit and navigate life’s challenges with optimism and resilience.

Deborah Holmen’s book, It Takes A Lot of Sh*t to Grow Beautiful Flowers: A Gardener’s Guide to Life, offers invaluable insights that can help us shift our perspective and empower us to thrive in the face of adversity.

Let’s leave behind the victim mentality and step into our roles as survivors in this vast wilderness of life. The journey may be challenging, but armed with the wisdom of Nature, we can overcome any obstacle and bloom beautifully amidst the chaos.

Deborah Holmén is a writer at The Good Men Project, A Parent is Born, Illumination, and more.


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