The injury here was that the parents could not value the child’s inner experience. Having lost contact with their own inner life, they could not nurture their child’s inner life. Instead, they focused on the child’s appearance and performance, on things like manners, posture, correctness, and grades. They taught her to follow the rules they followed, and to obey the authority they obeyed. They could love their child for her achievements and performance, but not for her feelings and beingness.
Each of us needs our inner self, our being, to be seen and valued. If our parents see only our appearance and performance, we tend to lose contact with our inner experience and come to believe that our surface — our performance — is all that we are. Without contact with our inner self, we are unable to find our own inner guidance, so we have to rely on an outer form of guidance to help us make decisions.
A child who suffers this injury becomes focused on the forms and rules of life and loses touch with life’s essence and substance. She tends to experience the world indirectly, through words, rather than directly through sensations and feelings. Rules replace personal feelings in her decision making process. She may use language well and become a terrific performer, but for her, doing has replaced being, and the map has replaced the territory. In new situations, her plea will be, “Tell me the rules,” because without the rules, she has no way to navigate.
When extra energy hits her system, she will attempt to contain it so that it doesn’t really affect her and interfere with her performance. Instead of allowing it to emotionally move her, she will shunt the energy into activity — she will get busy and do something. People who go into this survival pattern are often very successful on the outside, living in model homes with perfect lawns, but without much feeling, creativity, or color in their lives.
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