Early Childhood Survival Strategy (ECSS)

Conclusions drawn subconsciously by infants/toddlers/children about how to get their needs met when they do not feel acknowledged as separate (unique) beings by their caretakers. This process becomes the foundation for an unhealthy way of experiencing the self.

A child’s subconsciously-adopted methods for getting achievement-based approval in order to get the emotional ‘high’ (read: sense of safety) that is their unhealthy substitute for an abiding sense of being real and having a right to exist as who they are.

Some children are treated like pawns in the game of their primary caretaker’s own lives. They experience an inner vacuum because they are not in the position to develop a natural, healthy sense of who they are. This inner Black Hole is experienced as terrifying.

Because no man can live with an inner vacuum as a guideline, nature guides these children to seek ways to fill the black hole and consider it their beacon in life. By trial and error, the child learns that some ways of behaving bring approval vibes, and some don’t. This approval makes him or her “Feel-good-about-self”, which is as close to feeling real as she ever experiences. The state of “Feeling-good-about-self” now becomes a sought-for emotional state of safety, that functions as a Substitute SoS.

No wonder that getting the approval feels like a matter of life or death, because of the terror of the lurking black hole (compare: Fear of Annihilation).

As the child grow up he or she starts to behave in ways that lead to approval deliberately and more frequently. This “trying harder” has a desperate, compulsive character. Getting approval vibes from the primary caretaker becomes an unhealthy substitute for an abiding sense of being real and having a right to exist as who she naturally is, without having to conform to someone else’s needs and desires.

Overtime, the child subconsciously adopts strategies to be more successful in reaching that state of “Feeling-good-about-herself”. Her motivations for doing or avoiding things are no longer geared toward achieving any normal, well-defined goal, but they are at service to another goal, the Substitute SoS-oriented goal.

Initially that goal is to try to get their parent/caregiver’s acknowledgment and respect as their own individual person after all, but since her parent is the one who is unable to give that to her, she will end up having to settle for approval anyway.

This is how, a potentially smart way of adjusting her behavior in order to get her needs met, and get approval in lieu of acknowledgement becomes a pathological strategy that is making her dependent on perfect performance and the standards to that are set by the person who needs to be pleased.

These ECSS develop into the individual tactics that this method refers to as Ego-References: required behavior, the need to perform in certain ways, all conditions that must be fulfilled in order to get that craved approval. The strategies further develop, over time, into the entire Substitute Sense of Self-Oriented System.

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