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Instinctual drives & what they mean for our relationships

Our evolution as human beings has required three basic survival strategies, known as the basic instincts or instinctual drives:

  • Self-preservation – responding to perceived threats and needs
  • Social – creating social structures within communities
  • One-to-one – primary relationships or coupling

Why might you want to know more about the instincts?

In short they are our survival strategies and they largely  work unconsciously so knowing how you prioritize them can help to understand motivational forces at work in your relationships. Each of us have a leading instinct that has a stronger pull than the remaining two. In other words, they are stackable – one can relatively easily identify strongest from weakest and sequence them accordingly.

Example, lets say you are dominant self-preservation which is your partners weakest instinct (they are social leading). A step further and imagine that neither of know much about this in the other. So one person (leading self-preservation) constantly focuses on meeting physical needs and wellbeing while the other focuses on social needs. It is very easy to [completely]  miss each other when one is hassling about water and the other is thinking about keeping their social bonds healthy.

When that dinner party arrives, the social type has never been more organised while the self-preservation partner has been quietly cleaning all along and pays much less attention to the needs of the night. This is a recipe for a storm if the partners don’t understand the differences in focus and priorities. With some understanding of difference, what may have been a big blow up can easily be avoided. In place, a growing  understanding and appreciation for the other’s needs.

It’s important to note that all instincts are equally important to keep us in good alignment with life. One of the best things we can do for our psychological health is to give some attention to our weakest link. For me for instance, self-preservation dominant and social weakest.  A quick win for my personal growth is to focus on growing my social intelligence. There are many ways to do this but the most obvious is to put oneself in situation where  you have no other choice but to exercise this intelligence.  For Social intelligence, that might look like saying yes to that group event and paying attention whilst in the group context about how you fit in, stepping into the roles you might ordinarily avoid or noticing how you might over extend yourself. 

For the partner that is self preservation weakest, they might start paying closer attention to their diet, hydration, sleep and money. These are just some examples to give you a sense of what can open up when we learn more about how these instinctual energies operate in and around us. I have seen people take major steps in their relationships just by learning about these instinctual variants. Whats more, its fairly easy to get a good grasp of how they stack in you and work them into better shape.

I will be doing a video on each instinct and how to bring more balance. Self-preservation ready and rolling here.

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