Most humans operate with some level of unhealthy patterning. To combat this, we need a healthy sense of self-awareness to see all aspects of ourselves in the light of love and truth. This awareness is what we at COR call the Healthy Self and in this blog, we’re going to talk about how we can use our Healthy Self to transform the unhealthy patterns of the Survivor Self, and bring them together to help us better navigate vulnerable situations.
There’s nothing wrong with the Survivor Self
To begin with its important to note that there’s nothing bad about – or wrong with – the Survivor Self; it came into our lives to help us in a very vulnerable time, and now it’s just still running the program behind the scenes because we haven’t learned how to gently and kindly take responsibility away from it. The Survivor Self always feels like a little one who’s pretending to be big, or pretending to know what’s going on, and it’s always afraid to be found out. That’s why it’s always tense, because it can’t relax and truly arrive in the present moment. And that’s what Healthy Self development does – it helps the Survivor Self relax over time, so that its grip on our lives and our emotions loosens.
Pushing Away or Holding too Tightly to The Present Moment
One of the strategies or patterns that runs underneath each person’s Survivor Self is to either reject the present moment or to grasp for something else while in the present moment. For example, when something happens in the present that we don’t like, we automatically respond to it with an unhealthy “no”. In fact, that’s how the Survivor Self came into existence – to help us avoid dealing with something painful that happened to us when we were younger. The Survivor Self reared its head and came up with a coping mechanism, whether it was people pleasing, getting angry, or a desire to achieve lots of things to get away from the vulnerability of that moment. We find ourselves desiring, fantasizing about, or imagining something else in the future that’s different from what we have and we lose connection to the present moment.
The Present Moment is the Truth of Life
This is the price we pay when we get totally taken by these Survivor Self strategies. We miss out on life, because this present moment is where the truth of life is, and nowhere else. Everything else is either a memory or an imagination; it’s not actually real. That’s why Healthy Self development is so important, because we have such a short time to be here, to be alive. It goes by fast, and we don’t want to miss those moments of connection, love, truth, and beauty that knock us off our feet. But the Survivor Self doesn’t know what else to do other than take us out of the present moment.
Escape, Fantasy & Addiction
For many of us, the way the Survivor Self most often shows up is through addiction. This doesn’t just include the diagnosable addictions such as alcoholism, pornographic addiction, or gambling addiction, but also any time we’re lingering on Facebook longer than we need to, or whatever the thing is that takes us out of the present. So whenever we find ourselves escaping, or fantasizing, or obsessing over things out of our control, we need to consider what is so challenging about the present moment. What are we trying to escape from? Not only are we disengaged from the present moment, but we are in a place of disempowerment, where we can’t do anything productive. This is something we need to keep an eye on, and bring awareness to within ourselves.
Inability to Set Boundaries
One area to pay attention to is our ability to set healthy boundaries, to say a healthy “no”. We all have Survivor Self strategies to help us say “no”. Yours may be that you overcommit to things even when you don’t have available time or resources, because you simply don’t want to have to say no. Or, on the other end of the spectrum, you may be a much more withdrawn person who doesn’t even engage with people around you, because if no one can engage with you to ask you things, then you avoid ever having to say no. Another strategy could be that you are simply always busy, so that no one asks you for things because they know you don’t have the time.
We need to both understand and address the negative impact these strategies can have on our lives. The strategies aren’t bad in and of themselves, but when left unchecked they can hinder our abilities to achieve our goals, or to live an empowered life.
How to Strengthen Your Healthy Self
The Sacred Pause
The key to properly understanding and addressing our Survivor Self strategies is our Healthy Self – we must have a strong Healthy Self that can work with our Survivor Self to help draw out those Survivor strategies and move us towards a more empowered place. One method we would suggest to help you strengthen your Healthy Self in a somatic way is what we call the Sacred Pause. It is a practice of bringing awareness to your entire body, first in a very broad sense and then in a much more narrow and specific way. For specific instructions on how to perform this practice, watch Britta’s video on the Sacred Pause here.
Remember that the Sacred Pause is something only the Healthy Self can do. And only the Healthy Self wants to do. The Survivor Self doesn’t actually know how to do something like the Sacred Pause. This is because this practice requires you to be connected to yourself in the present moment, in a physical way. And that’s what we’re cultivating with this practice. It teaches us how to notice awareness, and any awareness that we bring to ourselves, especially in a physical way, is a quality of our Healthy Self.
Practice this Sacred Pause on a regular basis to help you strengthen your Healthy Self. You can set yourself up however works best for you – set a timer, do it with a buddy, or journal about the experience each time. Do whatever helps you stay committed to the practice and accountable to yourself.
If you want to learn more about how the Survivor Self is impacting your life, check out our free downloadable workbook here.