Success & Prosperity Blog

The Dangers of Self-Preservation

By Randy Gage in Critical Thinking, Success, Prosperity.

We all like to survive.  Survival is a good thing.  And humans have a hereditary self-preservation mechanism to protect our survival.  But sometimes that survival mechanism actually becomes harmful to you…

Here’s why:

Of course your self-preservation instinct is there to protect you from danger.  But it does more.

It also wants to protect you from pain.  It moves you away form things you perceive as painful, and moves you toward things you perceive as pleasurable.  And some of those things you see as painful probably include failure, embarrassment and humiliation.  And we live in a society that offers lots of opportunities for failure, embarrassment and humiliation.

Think you might fail at something?  Good chance you won’t even try it.  Are you afraid if you try something big you may face embarrassment or ridicule?  Your self-preservation reflex may suggest to your subconscious mind that it’s a bad idea.

One of the secrets of success is doing the critical thinking and use your conscious mind to override the self-preservation mechanism of your subconscious mind to avoid pain.

So how you doing on that?  Please share your results, and next post I’ll reveal the ways I do this.

BTW, let me take this chance to thank all you guys that tweet, like, and otherwise share these posts around the social media world.  I appreciate all you do to spread the word.  This blog has become such a popular and vibrant community because of YOU!


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25 thoughts on “The Dangers of Self-Preservation

  1. Rodrigo says:

    I think we’re talking about 2 different things here: the self-preservation of life and the self-preservation of the Ego. The Ego must die every day and I agree that is a painful experience. But the self-preservation of life gives us the courage to try new things and grow as human beings, and it will give us more awareness of ourselves and the world.

  2. Network marketing is awesome, and you can do it!

  3. Joe Gregory says:

    I think even more detrimental than self-preservation is people’s “need for approval.” This is typically going on sub-consciously and holds us back in so many ways. This is particularly harmful in sales where most sales people would rather have their emotional needs met by being “liked” instead of qualifying/disqualifying prospects and going for a “no.” Need for approval is a killer in network marketing as people succumb to the rejection and attrition. You’re in business to go to the bank, not to have your emotional needs met. I am fortunate, as are some others, to be in a business where I make lots of money and have huge psychic income from the service provided. Getting paid is more important as there are lots of ways to have my emotional needs satisfied. Ask yourself, as I do, where is my need for approval holding me back in my life? Good thing to journal on.

    1. Tom Mrak says:

      The greatest crime is when the need for approval makes people give up on themselves and their dreams.

      I did that for years, and regrettably, missed out on most of my 20s.

      I love electronic music, but I think those of you who are more traditionally business oriented could possibly benefit from this portion of a post I made.

      “As for music being dead, and people being able to succeed at it, I think there is a lot of potential yet unexplored.

      Like any sort of adventure, it requires a lot of creativity, confronting fear, and outside the box thinking, an approach which goes beyond just selling on iTunes or getting signed.

      Beyond Music if you will.

      As a musician and a fan, I ask myself and everyone reading this:

      As a musician, performer, or a producer, are you creating something people want to experience, that people want to buy and support?

      Many innovations in art and industry were driven by passion.

      Passion helps people succeed because it gives them a reason to drive forward.

      Got Passion?”

  4. Oh God Randy, you’ve hit on such a core issue here. Absolutely the truth, that our comfort zone (ruled by the subconscious) is designed to keep us safe. And it will use every means possible to keep us from venturing into the unknown.

    But, if you understand how this works. If you can see the insidious nature of it, you can push your way through the fear based thoughts – through the chaos, confusion and upset it throws at you – to the other side… where the truth lives.

    Because the truth is, you CAN do what it is you fear. You are designed for growth.

    Here’s what I know: ACTION overcomes all fear.

    To force myself to take action, I use a coach OR an accountability partner. Not a spouse (who will typically be way too easy on me), but someone who will challenge me, and hold my feet to the fire. In other words, it’s gotta hurt more to disappoint THEM, that it would hurt to disappoint myself.

    Thanks Randy for inspiring such important discussion. Here’s to growth for all of us!

    1. s.c. says:

      totally agree with u on that…it’s like u challenge urself – and then when u’ve done it-feels good, when u fail – well…just say whatever and move on… at least u tried….and we all know – if u don’t try – u’ll never know!

      1. You’ve got it SC : ) Assuming that you mean a person needs to fail and perservere, to stumble and get back up, tweak the methods, the process, the delivery, before deciding its fate. Because truthfully, too many people give up at the first stumble – during the humiliation phase, exclaim “this doesn’t work” and then promptly give up. And then self-soothe with the claim “well at least I tried”.

        No. If I am coaching a person, they can expect strong support to the finish line. There is not quit. Now let’s go : )

    2. Joe G says:

      Good points. And have you noticed that all fear is future based? It’s never in the present. And fear isn’t real; it’s just an illusion. If fear was real, everyone would be fearful of the same things. Mark Twain said it so well: “I am an old man now and I’ve had a lot of troubles in my life, most of which never happened.”

      1. Morten says:

        What you said there is so true. The reality is that we’re never afraid when we actually should be, because the adrenaline kicks in and makes us overcome the fear. So yes, fear is definantly future based.

  5. Catherine says:

    Gets me how we keep getting sucked in and believing that seductive little fear-based ego. More survival skills than a kangaroo in a Queensland flood, I’ve found. Every now and again the light gets through – thanks Randy – and I love your comment Deborah.

  6. Lene Hansen says:

    It takes a lot of work to get rid of these controlling survival mechanisms in the subconscious mind, but when you succeed getting to the core of it, which you do by contacting or confronting them, they have no power over you anymore, and you can again act freely and analytically. You restore the power of choice. I’m not just speaking theoretically, I have experienced this myself, and have observed a lot of people I know well doing this. It works.

  7. Gabesuarez says:

    Randy. Excellent! Very good post! Yes when I am agree 100%. I didn’t know that. Good one. The good thing is to know whats is going on in our minds, te see what chip is no correct and chenge it. With time and if we what we can change everything. What I will do here in my town is to start coaching process to see the fears that keep me back. Thanks Randy

  8. Tanya says:

    This is one of the main concepts that paralyzes people in all areas of their lives. It manifests into things like avoidance, fear, procrastination, etc.
    The way that I like to handle this is to challenge myself to new experiences as much as possible, to surround myself with people who are stepping out of what I perceive to be my comfort zone, and to really examine what is going on for me when I notice myself procrastinating, avoiding, etc. I use affirmations and accountability as well.
    Thank you so much Randy for keeping the great information coming – even while you’re traveling the world! 🙂

  9. Randy, you ask how we “use your conscious mind to override the self-preservation mechanism of your subconscious mind to avoid pain”
    I believe that there are subc. ideas & beliefs that connect “pain” with certain stimuli; eg, “It’s dangerous for me to speak my truth to men” I created that connection, men=danger, as a small child, and was completely unaware–unconscious!–that I’d done so.
    Guess what – there are no men in my network marketing group.
    The solution for me is not to “over-ride” but to Become Aware. I use my conscious mind to look at What’s Going On in my Life. From that, I can extrapolate the hidden connections (pain=____) When I’m aware of the connection, and aware of it’s absurdity, it very quickly falls away.
    My father=danger&pain, but it is pretty silly to continue acting as if all men=d&p.

    ps. God didn’t make a mistake when he gave us an Ego. The Ego is not inherently bad. That’s just a silly connection we’ve made, Ego=danger. For me, Ego is a useful tool.

  10. RJ says:

    It’s a continual process of getting out of your comfort zone. As you reach higher levels of thought, achievement, lifestyle, the tendency is to become comfortable and stay at that level. You need to consciously force yourself to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

  11. Geneva says:

    Great article RG!
    It somewhat reminds me of what I read in the book, Compassionate Samurai this week:
    “People who have caring hearts, but lack courage to accomplish results are also self centered. They hide their insecurities as noble, caring more about their comfort than the suffering of others. This leads to a judgmental attitude, with no accountability.”

    When I first read it i thought, “Burn” but it totally makes sense. We cower as shy; too easy going; or not being a leader, when all the while we are only selfishly sabotaging ourselves or as you state, “self-preserving.”

    I appreciate your insight!

    1. Tom Mrak says:

      Wow Geneva.

      That’s quite an insight.

      Ayn Rand was right, that sacrificing one’s self to others is wrong, which is basically what you do when you choose to do nothing, or not go after what is important to you out of fear that people won’t care about you.

  12. John Lowery says:

    The thing that helps me to step out there and take risks is that I know that what people think has very little to do with what I am going to do. I no longer care what people think, and if I believe in something, I’m stepping out. Failure is just stepping stones to success. As Brian Tracy says, “Unless you’re willing to have a go, fail miserably, and have another go, success won’t happen.”

    1. Lene Hansen says:

      Hi John!
      I totally agree! And ofcourse you will fail but also succeed. You will definately not succeed if you do not try, and if you are not willing to experience both.

  13. Justin says:

    I decided to start my own blog in January 2011. This means the potential for facing pain, but it is better than being stuck in a rut.

  14. Jim Story says:

    It is amazing how you hit the nail on the head. When I was dealing with some addiction problems (thank God I don’t gamble, there are no more nights left for new meetings.) a therapist explained to me that the addiction and obsessions saved me. I couldn’t fathom that this was saving me. She explained that had I not drank, smoked, acted out sexually that I probably would have killed myself. That the pain was too great and it moved me away from it.
    I realize that pain is just an emotion and is not real. I can’t go back and all I have is now. This moves me (in baby steps) sometimes to go forward, because I really can’t get hurt. On

    One thing I have done over the last 2 years is take an acting class. It is a workshop. So when the scene isn’t great and it appears I am not getting it; than I practice, rehearse and realize I am living my passion and it is Ok to not be perfect.


  15. Sonny says:

    I believe i need to get my concious mind stronger, to be able to pick up when my subconcious mind is looking for self-preservation. What’s the best way to strengthen my radar for this?

  16. Edward Devero says:

    Some threats are real – like an 1100 pound Grizzly Bear and some are percieved – like what others may think of you.


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