Feel Better

Is Your Self-Preservation Instinct Balanced, Over-Dominant, or Impaired?


By actively engaging and nurturing our Self-Preservation instinct, we are better equipped to establish external conditions that are conducive to our well-being and personal growth. This may include maintaining a healthy lifestyle, setting boundaries, surrounding ourselves with positive influences, and creating a supportive and nurturing physical and emotional environment.

When we prioritize our self-preservation instinct, it contributes to our ability to be fully present in our lives without unnecessary distractions or threats to our well-being. It allows us to focus on our personal growth, development, and the pursuit of meaningful experiences.


Self-care and health: Listening to body awareness, engaging in genuine self-care; getting real nutrition and exercise.

Practicality/Resources: Having a practical streak, a sense of persistence and going for long-range goals. Also, working to maintain the foundations of our lives.

Domesticity and home: Enjoying a grounded, stable domestic life and sometimes preferring to be at home than travelling and going out. Developing skills for making the home comfortable and practical, even beautiful.

Other signs of a balanced or healthy Self-Preservation Instinct: 

  • We seek experiences that contribute to a healthy and full life.
  • We pay attention to what encourages and sustains growth and what allows us and others to thrive.
  • We are most aware of the body’s direct feedback and state, and we can get easily preoccupied with it. When we are healthy, we balance activation with relaxation, value and make time for ourselves, and give ourselves permission to just be.
  • We value personal autonomy and self-reliance. We typically create living and working situations where we don’t have to rely on other people to meet our basic needs.
  • We are sensitive to levels of comfort, sensual pleasure, and the emotional associations and impact of food, environments and material things.
  • We live the struggle in the polarity between indulgence versus abstinence.
  • We value consistency and stability, but we also have an athletic or adventurous streak. We often have an outlet that provides a consistent way of engaging the body’s aliveness directly that enhances physical capacity and health.
  • We enjoy challenging and testing aliveness through acts of endurance.
  • We usually have a strong capacity for working and for putting effort in a focused direction. Ambition is a major theme for us, although it means different things for each of us.
  • We struggle to find a creative direction to apply our drive. We can be challenged to find a meaningful focus for our tenacity.


Self-care and health: Overeating or starving, not exercising or over-exercising.

Practicality and resources: Constantly worrying about resources and having a grasping approach to life, never feeling relaxed or sufficiently secure.

Domesticity and home: Having a pattern of lethargy and becoming stuck in ruts. Fearing stepping outside of familiar tracks.


Self-care and health: Avoiding medical and dental checkups. Also, having haphazard relationships with exercise, rest and diet.

Practicality and resources: Lacking focus on resources, hoping others will handle this part of life. Overall, our lives lack structure and regularity. We do things more randomly and our schedule tends to be more changeable.

Domesticity and home: Avoid focusing on domesticity. Our home may be more of a ‘crash pad’. We may fear getting trapped by domestic life, seeing it as a kind of drudgery or heaviness.

Other signs of an impaired Self-Preservation Instinct: 

  • We have difficulty anticipating the benefits of working on our own self-interest. We may rationalise this as selflessness.
  • We struggle to muster the force for moving in an independent direction unless there is significant sexual or social interest. We might fail to cultivate self-reliance in a number of areas.
  • We unconsciously outsource facets of care for our well-being onto loved ones, friends and acquaintances.
  • We often wait for others to initiate new directions and endeavours that lead to growth or sustainable changes.
  • We often don’t give the task at hand the necessary complete attention for it to unlock, nor trust in our own resourcefulness.
  • We can lack discernment around relationships. We lack the input of the self-preservation’s eye to whether a specific connection might be a divergence from our own path, a waste of time, or dangerous.
  • We can stay locked into relationships that seem to support the self-preservation needs we don’t feel prepared to address ourselves.
  • We can easily become scattered and depleted of energy because we are typically poor at cultivating habits that are restorative or authentically restful. We frequently mistake ignoring the body as a form of physical resilience and strength, blind to the cost.
  • We are susceptible to fostering grandiose fantasies about ourselves due to a lack of groundedness.