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  • Ryan Wilson

What’s your Survival Map?


This means that if I learned, intentionally or not,



Lets say I moved around a lot or had one or


The thing about the survival map is that, it is easiest learn new ways to cope (a new survival map) when you are feeling safe. It is hardest when we are faced with uncertainty or feeling vulnerable.

But it is impossible to over-ride our survival map if we are unaware of them! So lets see if we can get a glimpse of some of yours?

1. What did you learn about POWER? Who has it? How do they get it? Here are some questions to help you get started…

  1. How do you react when you feel helpless or powerless? Do you get aggressive (you would have learned this pays off and is the best way to stay safe) or shut down and avoid (you would have learned this was safest and that you don’t deserve power), or perhaps you play the victim, look to others to fix things or tell you what to do? Or start to get physical symptoms like migraines or stomach issues? It is not uncommon to get physically ill when you are emotionally distressed if emotions were not validated as you grew up. Those emotions need to go somewhere, and if they cannot be expressed they can go into your body. Take a moment to reflect on how you respond to feeling helpless.

  2. Look at both what your MIND is telling you AND what your ACTIONS are telling you that you learned.

2. What did you learn about INTIMATE RELATIONSHIPS? Our template for how these are supposed to work usually come from our family.

  1. We often repeat our early relationships. If in our early years we learned that social relationships are somehow emotionally draining (requiring sacrifice) or if we learned that relationships are emotionally unsafe (conditional love) we are drawn to other people who are emotionally unsafe. Look at how you behave in relationships. Who you are drawn to? It can tell you something about your relationship survival map.

3. Finally, lets look at what you learned about EMOTIONS? Were they discussed? Validated? Acknowledged? Or were they ridiculed, dismissed or were you told you were “sensitive” or to “knock it off”? This will tell you something about what you learned about your permission to listen to your strong and healthy self. If we learned that we have to ignore our signalling system (emotions), the bodily sensations  that tells us if something is ok or not, we inevitably start making unhealthy choices. Our emotional survival map is perhaps one of the most important maps, because they can have such a big impact on how we handle every situation we come across in life (e.g., relationships).

As much as people want to leave the


To learn a new survival map, we have to face the past and consciously choose: “Who am I going to be TODAY?” 

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