The Distinction Between the Essence of the Human Being and the Survival Pattern

by | Dec 16, 2013

By Hedy Schleifer, MA, LMHC


a) The Essence of the human being: The essence of the human being is the core of the person. It is the way you truly are, as well as the infinite potential that is embedded in you, and that can unfold throughout the adventure of your life. It is like the tree and the seed.

b) In the Essence: When you are in your essence. You are expressing your pure life force. There is free energy flow, a sense of aliveness, a creative generativity, a sense of safety, a deep knowing that “all is well”, that “I am being taken care of”. Your actions are based on intentionality. You live in the paradox of the simplicity of complexity. Opposites are complementary, so that you welcome and embrace the tension of polarities. The world is “chaordic”, a magical balance of chaos and order, created by the mysterious laws of the universe.

c) The Upward Trend: In your essence you are contributing to the Upward Trend of the universe. Your relationships are in “Essence Mode” or “E-mode”: respectful and honoring of the “other”, filled with natural empathy and compassion. You have a vivid curiosity about the “other”. You give unconditional positive regard and mindful attention. You naturally express your generosity of spirit, and your relationships are cooperative and mutually nourishing.

d) The Relational Brain: The research in the new science of Relational Neuro-Biology makes a distinction between the High Road and the Low Road in communication. The High Road is the mobilization of the newest part of the brain, the Frontal Lobes, the seat of consciousness, and of our ability to see many realities at the same time. It is slow and mindful and intentional. It can be called the “Big Mind”. The Low Road is located in the Old Brain. It is immediate and reactive. It is quick and dirty. It is a knee jerk fight or flight response to real or perceived danger. It can be called the “Small Mind”.


a) The Survival Pattern: The survival pattern is the defensive adaptation that you developed through your life’s journey. It can be called your character structure. It is not who you truly are. But it is who you think you are, because over time you have identified yourself more with your adaptive self, and with your presentational self, than with your true essential self. It is the Costume, the Garb, and the Colored Lens

b) The Survival Mode: When you are in survival mode you feel that your energies are sapped. It is a drain of your life force. There is a sense of deadness. You feel like you are going to die. There is a growing sense of danger. Your behavior is reactive. And you find yourself in the middle of complications and entanglements. Your behavior is characterized by the Four Horses of the Apocalypse: defensiveness, criticism, contempt and stonewalling. You are closed up. You cannot seem to extricate yourself from a relational vicious circle.

c) The Photo Album in the Brain: From the structure of the brain point of view, in survival mode you are experiencing a brain hijacking caused by the memories stored in the almond shaped Amigdala, which is located in the Limbic System of the brain. The Lymbic System is the seat of raw emotions. The Amigdala is like a family album, with a collection of pictures of everything you have experienced. It is atemporal. It cannot tell time or place. If something smells a little, or looks a little, or feels a little like what happened before, the reaction is the same: DANGER! And the survival mechanism is mobilized.


a) Sculptors of Each Other’s Brain: When we relate to each other consciously and intentionally, we become the “Sculptors” of each other’s brain. We become agents of change in the service of each other’s growth. In the process of “Essence To Essence” mode or “E TO E” mode, new neural pathways form in our brain, that integrate the whole brain, regulate our emotional state, and increasingly give us the possibility to behave relationally. With these new neural pathways, we grow our relational intelligence, our capacity to be intelligent not only about relationships, but in vivo, “in” relationships.

b) Authenticity and Integrity: When we relate to each other in “E TO E” mode, there is a growing sense of openness, and vulnerability and authenticity, and truth and integrity. All is aligned.

c) “Be the Change You Want to See in the World”: The “E TO E” mode allows us as leaders to be agents of the Upward Trend. We create a climate of growing possibilities and generative creativity. We then, as Ghandi said, ARE THE CHANGE WE WANT TO SEE.

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