Career Advice AUDIO / Self-Management

I’ve Got You

I've Got You

What is your favorite survival mechanism? It’s the thing you often do when you’re feeling stressed, scared, overwhelmed, emotional or unsure. There is a good reason why we call it a survival mechanism, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best course of action. Here’s why…


Survival is the most fundamental objective of being human.

We have an innate drive not only to get our basic needs met, but to create all the things that bring us satisfaction.

When we’re kids, we want our parents’ or primary caregiver’s love, their approval, and we need to feel safe.

The term that has been given to a behavior we develop as a means of getting our needs met when we’re young is: survival mechanism. Because when we’re small, it feels like we literally need it to survive.

All humans have survival mechanisms.

And we tend to employ these learned behaviors as we grow into adulthood, because they have worked for us in the past.

You may think this is an absurd assertion. Does any rational adult think they can get a raise by holding their breath until they pass out? Of course not!

However, we humans aren’t inclined to completely dispense with something that’s become a habit and has served us well in the past, even if it’s no longer working.

Often, we just find new ways to employ the same old tactics.

But just because we’ve dressed it in a business suit, doesn’t mean it’s all that different.

Adult-modified survival mechanisms are insidious, because they look much more civilized. We may even fool ourselves! After all, we’ve been operating with them for as long as we can remember.

Are you interested in trading in the incognito coping strategies you developed as a five or seven year old for more effective adult strategies? If so…

Pay attention to where your mind and behavior go when you are:

  • Stressed
  • Tired
  • Overwhelmed
  • Frustrated
  • Hungry
  • Lonely

These are the most likely times when a survival mechanism tends to kick in.

When you’re present enough to recognize what’s happening, remember, the emotional intelligence of a little one developed this strategy, whatever it is, in order to gain love and acceptance and feel safe.

Scolding yourself is only going to make you feel worse.

Assure your scared inner child that the wise, adult you has got this now; they are not alone; that you are going to take care of him/her; and that everything is going to be okay.

This allows them to now be in charge of what kids are good at — creativity, fun and play, so don’t leave them out in the cold.

Instead take very good emotional care of them the way you would a much adored child.



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And if you know a friend or neighbor who could use hearing the advice in this article or needs The Job I Love Toolkit, please forward this to them.