On average in the US every year …
Fifty people are struck by lightning.
Sixty people are injured by hurricanes.
But how many have been hit by a falling meteor?
In all of history, just one. Her name is Moody Jacobs and on a clear afternoon in 1954, a softball-sized chunk of black rock punched a hole in her ceiling, ricocheted off a radio, and hit her in the thigh. She survived the strike with only a large bruise.
A meteor’s trajectory is influenced by our planet’s gravity which grabs the rock from space and pulls it down to earth. The rock has no control over where it lands. Similarly, we often have behaviors that we feel a near-magnetic pull to engage in. This pull can be so strong that we spend too much time and energy on these actions and can end up regretting them. When this happens we are under the influence of a survival strategy belief.
What is a survival strategy belief?
A survival strategy is a belief that helps us cope with another belief. If you believe, “I’m not good enough,” you might cope with a belief like “The way to be good enough is to do things perfectly.” If you believe “I’m not important” you might deal with that by forming the belief “What makes me important is making money.” A survival strategy gives us a way to feel OK even when we have a belief that says we are not OK but it also creates a problem.
Survival strategy beliefs can lead us to be over-motivated — doing too much of a good thing
When a person believes that “The way to be worthwhile is to be knowledgeable” that may not seem like a bad thing. But when they start to give “knowledge” in situations in which they are not knowledgeable it’s going too far. They do this because, under the influence of this belief, they just can’t help themselves.
When one of our clients has the belief “What makes me good enough is doing things perfectly” they put in the effort to do things well which is useful, but often they complain about putting too much time into making something perfect even when they know they should submit their work and move on.
How do we solve the over-motivation problem?
First, you describe the behavior in terms of what it feels you must do. Maybe you feel you must please others or you must achieve, or you must do things perfectly.
Second, you notice the positive feeling you get after the behavior. Maybe pleasing others makes you feel good enough. Maybe doing things perfectly makes you feel worthwhile or important.
Third, you name the survival strategy as a belief using the phrases “The way to be x is y” or “What makes me x is y?” As in the example above, “The way to be good enough is to please others” or “The way to be worthwhile is to do things perfectly.”
Fourth, you eliminate the core belief with the Lefkoe Belief Process then the survival strategy belief. Morty described the belief process in detail here.
Here’s how we applied the four steps to eliminate a client’s survival strategy belief
Randy’s wife complained about him working all the time. Even on vacation he would bring his laptop and answer email. This was in the early 2000s before today’s near-constant demand on employees. He admitted he was driven to work hard and couldn’t stop himself for long. When he did, he felt unsettled.
As a kid he overheard adults say things like “He sure does work hard” and “He’s such a hard worker.” When I asked him how he felt after putting in hard work, he said “I feel important.” His belief was “What makes me important is working hard.” After eliminating his belief, he said he went from someone who looked forward to Mondays to someone who looked forward to the weekend.
On his next vacation, he didn’t bring his laptop and didn’t miss it. His wife was very pleased. Like many of our clients, Randy’s problematic behavior had been in place for much of his life.
But what does it mean if our driven behavior started later in life?
Survival strategy beliefs are often formed when we are children but they can be formed when we’re adults too. My client Sally only began to work extra hard when she got her first real professional job.
She did some work and her boss was amazed at the quality. Sally was thrilled. She then went on to keep performing and getting heaps of praise. She formed the belief “What makes me good enough is high performance” from these work experiences. And from then on, she would work long hours and concentrate harder than she had before.
Before eliminating a survival strategy belief you must also eliminate the belief that you are coping with. If the belief has the words “good enough” “worthwhile” or “important” you must eliminate “I’m not good enough,” “I’m not worthwhile” or “I’m not important” before eliminating your survival strategy belief. If you don’t, you’ll often find that you feel anxious about letting the belief go.
- A survival strategy belief can make us do too much of a good thing (over-motivation)
- This happens because it links our self worth to specific actions
- We can find a survival strategy using three steps: Describe the behavior, find the feeling, formulate a belief statement
- Survival strategies can be formed when we are children but can also be formed when we’re adults
Eliminating a survival strategy belief gives you immediate freedom. Once it is gone, you often feel that a weight is lifted. You feel you can control how hard you work or whom you want to please or not. You are at choice.
We have a program that helps you eliminate two of the most common survival strategy beliefs. It’s called Natural Confidence. If you feel the need to please others or the need to do things perfectly you’ll be able to free yourself from those issues and experience freedom. Go to NaturalConfidenceProgram.com to check it out.