What’s Your Survival Pattern? Find the hidden fear that holds you back (& let it go).

What’s Your Survival Pattern? Find the hidden fear that holds you back (& let it go).

“Feel the fear & do it anyway.” This is a great motto & something that many of us are familiar with.

Most brave women I know, live by it. Or we try to. When we see an opportunity (even if we’re sh *t scared) we’ll step up & give the thing a go.

There are ways we all deal with our conscious fear or try to.

But what if the fear is subconscious, secret-lurking in the depths like a giant squid? It’s holding us back without us even knowing.

Survival patterns (the behaviour we adopted to feel loved & safe as a child) are ingrained. They can mean we write things off without giving them the time of day. The fear masquerades as some practical obstacle-normally about money & ‘being realistic.’

“Well, how am I supposed to do something about them if I don’t even know what they are?!” I hear you ask.

Let’s deep sea dive.

Olivia * had been working with me in coaching for a year or so-she opened herself to her creativity after a life immersed in the corporate battle field. Her work developed quickly in floristry, in styling, in cooking & pretty much anything she put her hands too. Others admired her obvious skill & eye for beauty.

She started blogging about her story, her creative process & how she was changing—people loved reading her poetic & inspirational words.

Over & over again though when we talked about her transitioning into a creative business, she would say that it wasn’t financially practical & that she’d have to wait for something external to happen.

She waited & waited. Nothing changed.

I suggested maybe internal change was needed. Maybe we needed to deep sea dive.

Olivia grew up with strict, traditional parents. They punished her for following anything creative, sporty, fun or for just being enthusiastic about extra curricular activities. She was emotionally unnourished around who she really was, what made her happy & in feeling like she had a voice that mattered.

It had taken her to her late 30’s to allow herself to explore her creativity at all. She was taught to tow the line & stay in the box.

Parental emotional neglect is often unseen but so powerful, check out Dr Jonice Webb’s brilliant book Running on Empty.

It’s the absence of something (feeling encouraged, praised & emotionally connected with enough) so it’s hard to spot often but it has a serious subconscious impact steering you away from internal connection, knowing your needs, expressing your voice & true work.

Olivia had internalised her parent’s voices disapproving of anything ‘frivolous’ and was impacted by the lack of praise & encouragement around doing what truly mattered to her (without even really knowing it) . And no matter how much someone told her how talented she was, how much they loved her work, she couldn’t take it in & believe it.

It made her feel unmotivated in pushing a creative business forward. It made her feel invalid—how can you push yourself forward when you don’t see & feel your own talents?

Her upbringing had left her feeling numb & underneath it all, not good enough.

What is Your Survival Pattern?

You may have had a happier childhood than Olivia but still relate a little or a lot to these 5 patterns I’ve developed over years of coaching.

You may figure out your own unique pattern or you may be a combination of some or all of these:

Lonely Girl
Study or works hard mostly alone. She was quite emotionally neglected as a child, so she believes she can’t get what she needs by asking-just by self sufficiently getting validation through school work. This pattern is hard as an adult because it feels harder to achieve in the same way in the adult world.

Pros: She’s conscientious & studious.
Cons: May always feel like she needs another qualification or to get better at certain skills to be good enough.

Healing: Learning to ask for help & lessening her perfectionism.

Serving Girl
It’s all about everyone else first. She grew up keeping the peace by helping. As an adult she can get burnt out & feel unfulfilled by putting other’s needs before her own.

Pros: People really like her.
Cons: She has abandoned herself to get the co-dependent type of love.

Healing: Putting herself first & setting boundaries. Learning her true needs.

Achiever Girl
Grades, money, climbing the career ladder, outer success (or whatever the family values are) matter more then what she really wants. These things are valued over relationship connections. This is the most masculine pattern. Self esteem comes through achievement.

Pros: She achieves lots!
Cons: Can get burnt out or feel empty, depressed or unfulfilled. Relationships suffer.

Healing: Buck the status quo, care less about what the family thinks. Find your real value within & find your true calling. Learn how to open up in relationships.

Space Girl
Can’t get stuff done easily, she finds structure & organisation hard. Feels spaced out & disassociated often-like she lives in another world. Feels like she lacks confidence & resources to change things. She felt very unseen growing up & was possibly emotionally or physically abused. The world feels unsafe or very difficult. She easily feels lost.

Pros: Highly creative, great at living in the moment & finding the fun.
Cons: She can have addictive tendencies & find it hard to self motivate.

Healing: Find loving support, heal the trauma, begin to express who you truly are & feel the incredible value of that. Make the most of your creativity & incredible world changing ideas. Let love in.

Rebel Girl
She grew up with Authoritarian parents who she could never really please so she rebelled. She gained popularity & approval from friends for doing this & so it became her source of self esteem. As an adult part of her is still rebelling sometimes which makes it hard to commit, see progress on projects & sometimes means she pushes people away.

Pros: A change maker, a potential revolutionary & great fun.
Cons: Can rebel against good things & herself which is self sabotaging.

Healing: Learn to differentiate what is worth pushing away & what is worth growing. Know that things can grow & they’re worth sticking with.


Back to Olivia…..

After Olivia started to identify her survival patterns, she started to heal. To see where she needs balance & self love.

She knows that it isn’t that SHE IS not valid but that she was never taught to value her talents & her true voice.

And now the real work begins…to start to encourage herself, to heal the neglected inner child-to build the emotional resilience it takes to take her talents to the world.

She was brave enough to deep sea dive.

Deep sea diving means hearing those hidden dreams but instead of pushing them away, listening to your fears, to those internalised voices, to where you feel resistance or numb or stuck. It means listening to your body (the home of these emotions).

Over the many years, that I’ve been coaching, I’ve learnt how to ‘tune in’ to emotions & where they are stored in bodies—it might sound strange but I can feel where my clients are holding themselves back.

Sometimes the story isn’t as big as in Olivia’s case but there’s always a story-a way that we are protecting ourselves-holding back out of fear of rocking the boat, upsetting a parent or going against what we were taught about ourselves.

And here lies your magnificent power.

Olivia had a vision of herself as a huge bird taking fight.

And when you shift the inner you get to make some amazing outer plans too.

Imagine where you could fly?


Find your calling & fly! Book a FREE Discovery session with me to release those secret fears & follow your calling.


  • Olivia’s name has been changed.





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