In Survival Attachment Trumps Authenticity

When it comes to survival, attachment trumps authenticity. – Gabor Mate 

In survival mode people will choose attachments (including to unhealthy people and situations) over their authenticity. This is what happens to children in dysfunctional and abusive homes (I shrink my real self, my needs and do whatever it takes to stay attached and survive). This is what happens to non-dominant identity groups where they are not valued by the dominant norm (i.e. women and people of color…I shrink my real self, my needs and do what it takes to survive). Survival mode also sets one up for internalizing false beliefs, easy manipulation and tolerating abuse, becoming abusive or giving up easily with an external locus of control.

The solution is strengthening the inner life to return to authentic choice (including the greater choices available with an internal locus of control), befriending the shadow and a support system (i.e. a therapist, a coach, trusted others, support groups etc.) to break the strong hold of the spell. This can be really challenging and it is important to be gentle. 

Translation at work: When employees, managers, leaders are constantly in their survival brain their productivity sinks dramatically, they aren’t being authentic – bringing their best creative self and the loyalty is really an unconscious fear. 

Translation globally right now women need support in Afghanistan:


1. In what situations do you feel you have little choice? 
2. What anchors you back to your true self?