Survival Personality


In reality, the authentic personality does not exist in pure form and our growth is not always smooth. It is a fact of life and a part of being human. The perfect society and the perfect parents do not exist.

As young children we are quite helpless and totally dependent on our parents and family. In order to survive, both physically and emotionally, we need love, care and attention. To the children, at that early age, being abandoned and not loved by their parents is the equivalent of death.

For fear of loosing love and being rejected we will do everything to fulfill our parents desires and not to upset them. We will conform to what is required from us and we will learn to be one way and not another.

In order to satisfy our belonging and love needs, we will express only these parts of us which are accepted. As a result our personality does not grow harmoniously. Instead of developing authentic personality, we develop survival personality. The parts of us that we repress become our shadow.

The survival personality is the starting place for all us to a greater or lesser degree. It is our adaptation to the expectations and demands of our parents, family and society; the manner we assume in dealing with them. While the authentic personality is based on the natural expression of who we really are, the survival personality is based on the demands of the environment.

However, we must not look at the survival personality as something bad and empty, without depth and richness. This type of personality often functions well above the average level, expressing truly impressive talents and abilities.

The trouble is that as we grow we become more and more identified with our survival personality, and less and less in touch with our authentic personality. We thus lose awareness of our Self and contact with who we really are. We almost forget who we truly are. Gradually, we begin to think we are that survival personality, so that it becomes a habit.

We can live a great deal of our life while identified with survival personality, especially if we are successful and if we function well. However, survival personality sooner or later does eventually begin to restrict us in expressing ourselves fully, and we start to feel like a trapped bird in a cage too small to spread its wings.

When we neglect parts of ourselves for a period of time, when we deny our own feelings and thoughts, and fail to fulfill our genuine wishes and our potentialities, a crisis eventually occurs. We begin to experience stress, anxiety and pain.