Humanity is beautiful—there’s so much joy and celebration to be had in our humanity. But there are two parts to our human experience: in addition to the beauty and goodness, there’s also the challenge that existing is really hard. It’s often difficult to navigate the challenges of life—both outward and inward. We find ourselves sometimes doing the things that we wish we wouldn’t do, and not doing the things that we wish we would do. This seems to be part of the human condition that’s universal to everyone.

Part of the work we’ve done at COR for so many years is to help people navigate the goodness of their life—and to navigate the challenging bits.

The three Selves 

The three Selves is a concept we at COR came across about ten years ago. This concept provides us a new way of looking at our human experience—both the goodness and the challenges of it. 

The concept of the three Selves comes from a german psychologist, Franz Rupert, who created this notion (that we’ve subsequently adapted for our own work). Rupert created the concept based on the work of Burt Hellinger and the “family constellation”. Rupert took this very complex way of healing family systems and focused on adapting it for individuals. This helps people heal what’s broken and embrace the best version of themselves,  allowing them to grow into the fullness of their humanity. 

Most of our dysfunctional behavior comes from the unconscious. 

Only about 10% of our behavior comes from the conscious mind—the rest of it comes from the unconscious. This is something we need to address, because the unconscious always wins. When we find ourselves in a rut, exhibiting habitual behavior, or tanking relationships—we’re not choosing that behavior. It’s being driven, and what remains unconscious will continue to drive us. 

The Survivor Self

The number one function of the Survivor Self is to protect us from pain. Pain is part of the human condition. From childhood, we adapt and adopt survival strategies, ways to protect us from the pain of life. These are strategies that were developed from childhood as a method of survival.

The problem with the survival strategy is that it doesn’t allow us to thrive. It works as a child, but not so much in adulthood. The way it shows up in our life is when we are feeling at our tightest. Our survivor strategy can look very different from person to person. 

One of the sharpest survivor strategies that most of us have is what we call the inner critic. The inner critic is that voice that constantly critiques, and tells us that “you can’t, you shouldn’t, you’re not good enough, no one loves you.” The Survival Self part, ironically, wants to keep us safe; however, when left on its own, it drives us down and keeps us from actually stepping into the fullness of our humanity. 

The Wounded Self

The Survivor Self has all of these strategies to keep us safe and to protect us from pain. However, it originally came into existence during childhood, when we first experienced pain in an overwhelming way.This pain, which caused the Survivor Self to emerge, also resulted in the birth of our Wounded Self. We’ve all experienced pain or suffering that we couldn’t deal with as children, meaning part of the ego structure came into the picture instead and said “Ok, I know how to deal with this if you don’t.”

Our wounds are always the deepest the younger we are, and they’re raw. It can feel scary when we don’t know how to deal with our Wounded Selves. When we felt that fear as a child, our Survivor Self took over and developed as we grew. 

When bad feelings are triggered, it’s healthy to embrace them. All feelings have a beginning, middle, and end, and we must go through all stages. Our Survivor Self is keeping us from feeling those feelings, and comes up with strategies that don’t really work.

We want to recognize that we need compassion for both the Survivor and the Wounded Self. The challenge is that neither of those parts really guides us into leading our lives as adults. The wounded part is hurt, and the survivor part is doing what it can to protect it.

The Healthy Self

The Healthy Self is what we’re born with. It’s who we truly are—and it can never be destroyed. It can only be covered by the wounds of life, but it’s always there. We can always recover our Healthy Self and access it more deeply. It’s all of our essential qualities of goodness—and so much of our true self. It’s where our liberation lies. If the Survivor Self has a grip on us, the Healthy Self is always open. It can be strong, but it’s never harsh or judgemental. That voice in our head that tells us that we’re no good—that’s not our Healthy Self. It’s our Survivor Self trying to protect us. The Healthy Self can be discerning of course, but not harsh and judgemental, as the inner critic can be. The healthy self is that immortal part of our being, and our work is to embrace and cultivate it. When the Healthy Self finally meets the Wounded Self, true healing happens—and when it meets the Survivor Self, true ego relaxation happens. Then, all of these beautiful and essential qualities come forth into our life—which is what COR is all about. 

If you’re ready to dive deeper into discovering how the Wounded, Self, Survivor Self and Healthy Self are impacting your life, check out our free self assessment tool, or reach out here: