Survival Mechanisms

Liesel Teversham

Liesel helps HSP introverts to embrace their sensitivity as a superpower, and overcome obstacles so they can thrive. She also works with clients to solve their health issues, and has authored 2 books. More here.

Published on 2019/07/19

SurvivalMechanismsDr Gabor Mate is a medical practitioner who does excellent, enlightening work in the field of disease and addictions.

His main point is that every addiction and serious disease starts as a result of trauma and feeling isolated.

His insightful quote is what I find in my work too.

Every single behaviour that we judge in ourselves, that we now think is a “problem”, once was a solution. It usually started out as a childhood strategy for survival. And therefore, it is not “wrong”, and nothing is “wrong” with us!

It has an ultimate positive intention for us.

However, as adults, we start realising that those strategies are not working for us anymore – and we call it “a problem”.

Often, sensitive introverts have survival strategies like “Don’t go in the spotlight, it’s not safe” or “Avoid being visible at all costs“. We know this strategy causes a problem with for instance, showing up to market our work. YET it seems so hard to change and suddenly become “visible”.

When we realise we have a problem, we want to get rid of it as fast as we can.

Could there be a problem with getting rid of it?

We need to tread gently, kindly, and with compassion for those problems. Remember, these behaviours started as a survival strategy. There are parts of us that are holding on to those strategies – because they are there for a good reason.

It rarely works to judge our behaviour or our problems.

It works far better to understand where they came from, have compassion – and then gently start working in a new direction.

The very best way to go about is with permission from the parts of us that created the “problem” strategy in the first place.


The difficult thing is that it’s really hard to do the diagnostics as well as the healing ourselves. In my experience, it is much kinder to get help and support for this kind of deep, contemplative work.

Again… tread carefully, gently, with compassion. Get the support of someone who can help you discover where and how this behaviour started, and the positive intention for it. We need to thank it for being there, and then learn different strategies and beliefs about safety in the world. That, dear reader, is not the work of a 15 minute tapping session by yourself. Ask me, I’ve tried <grin>.

I’m wishing you well on your journey of discovering more about your patterns, unconscious behaviour, and finding new strategies that work, and create the results you’d prefer.


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