Heal the Survival Self, Dream With the Thriving Self

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What part of you wants to create and allows yourself to dream – the survival self or the thriving self?


It’s an important question to ask.


The creative dreams, goals and hopes we hold dear are clearly connected to an aspect within us. So the question becomes, is the impulse to create coming from a place of pure joy (thriving self), or a place of safety (survival self)? Are you willing to hear the answer?


To find out, it helps to get a clearer understanding of the survivor personality within us.


We all have a survival self. It’s the part of us that developed when we were young to help process and understand our environment. When we have limited experience, we craft a self that is used as an “interface”. This survival self filters our emotions, relationships, and circumstances, while helping us connect in a safe way. It also enables us to protect our hearts and true selves as we learn how to “be” in the world.


The challenge is that as we grow up we don’t even realize we’ve shaped and relied on this survival self, and that it continues to live on within us – until we start to feel uncomfortable. Or, ALOT uncomfortable. Old patterns and fears seem constrictive or limiting, and we experience life as going through the motions rather than truly living it. The role of the survivor self was born to protect, but it can also keep us feeling small and in “survival mode” as we mill about in the same familiar patterns well into adulthood.


At some point these two personalities within you each want to take the lead and create. However, the survival self needs very different things from the thriving self, so it’s essential to learn how to support both.


Balancing Survival Needs and Expanding Into What you Need to Thrive


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In some ways people choose to see this dynamic as ego vs the self. I think of (the survivor self) as the protector. It helped you learn to navigate the world and the ensuing chaos while helping you adapt to accommodate what you were thinking and feeling as best it could.


There is space to see the survivor self with love and honor it for it’s intent, and what it continues to do for you. It can be a great cheerleader and keep you on track with fulfilling basic needs – if you understand that it also needs to heal.


As the last line of defense, it’s been keeping the lights on and food on the table your whole life. When it’s the only mode we operate in due to fear, life challenges or loss, it colors our joy, creativity and view of life, while completely draining our body altogether and creating health problems with no clear cause or relief. It needs some healing time to get back in balance. 


Survival mode also kicks in hard core when we fail to step into our true power or share our real voice in a bigger way. When we feel threatened to take a risk, the inner survivor “takes over” to protect us with old programs. In the modern world what looks like success and outward accomplishment can scare our survivor self into lock-down mode, fearful of venturing out too far – or to dare to dream about what it would look like to thrive.


If this sounds like where you are at, congrats! We’ve all been here for one reason or another. The important thing is to see and understand that the survival self isn’t bad, it simply needs healing and acknowledgement from you.


Care, Gratitude and Awareness for the Survivor Self Transforms it Into the Thriving Self


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The survivor self, in part, is a false part of us that was created without us being conscious of it. Instead of making it the bad guy, notice it. Thank it. Say hey, appreciate the support, but I GOT THIS!


When we can acknowledge these parts of ourselves, true healing begins. Why? Because we see how the survivor self started, what it needs to feel OK, and how to offer it (and yourself) healing through support of mind, body and spirit, equally.


As we open to being present in little moments and steps, we can begin to see how and why we do what we do. We get to the root of the patterns that keep us small. This is how we notice, acknowledge then move beyond our defenses, while staying focused on how to release or build upon them to create wildly and to love ourselves freely.


There is no right way to be you, but there is knowingly side-stepping the work and deep self-care it takes to strip away what is not you in order to thrive. There is no reason to keep yourself small and quiet when it comes to your creative expression. It’s why you are here and why you may feel torn; you are ready to move into your truth in all ways. Technology innovation, art, music, fiction novels, inspirational acts of love, cooking and so much of what humans create comes out of a desire to move beyond surviving to thrive.


Thriving is not all about how to get rich or live the easy life – it’s about realizing that the survivor self is there, has your back, and is the foundation for you as you reach for more, for what you see as big dreams that may appear impossible in your current reality.


When was the last time you asked yourself what thriving feels like? Do you have a clear picture of the how it would feel to be rich on the inside, to have confidence and inner knowing that you are clear, yet open minded to what may show up and able to adapt? This flexible approach to life is how creative inspiration flows through us and disintegrates what no longer serves us to reveal what we really want, not what the survival self thinks it needs to be safe. It’s also when we create in big ways we never expected are possible, simply by being present. 


We have to be willing to heal the survival self and dream with the thriving self. Are you?


If you would like to go deeper into the the survival self vs thriving self, connect with me for a intuitive reading. Want more focus on what you are creating in 2017? Set up a creativity coaching session. Like podcasts? Check out mine; it’s called Flirting With Enlightenment and provides tips to help you tap into your inner wisdom. You can also check out the book The Mandala of Being for more insights on the survivor self and how to work with it.