These survival beliefs are limiting you

Are you afraid to try out new things out of the fear of it not working out?

Or maybe you don’t usually venture out of your comfort zone because you don’t want to waste your time?

Or do you operate based on the idea of saving as much as you can? Saving money, resources, time?

Or you tend to prioritise only the things that will help you reach the career goals or fitness goals that you want?

These are some the survival beliefs that could be playing out in your life right now.

I have a podcast episode all about this topic – so check it out here.

What are survival beliefs?

It’s the beliefs that stem from a need to ‘survive’, to ‘get through the day’ so that you can work towards a future where life will be better. You might believe that if you just take it one step at a time and do all the right things today, then tomorrow will be that little bit easier.

Survival beliefs usually start off with a need to survive. Maybe from a traumatic experience where your basic needs weren’t fully met, or maybe there was a lack of safety.

If you’re a part of the second generation immigrant community, it’s more likely that it was your parents who experienced the need to survive.

And their story might’ve looked similar to my parents’ stories.

They probably had to go through some pretty eventful and traumatic situations like:

  • running for their lives, literally
  • leaving their family behind
  • staying in refugee camps
  • not knowing what lay ahead and having no control and stability
  • finally being able to step foot in their new life but experiencing so many challenges (like learning a new language as an adult, finding a job)

Our parents went through a lot! And all of that for our future and for the opportunities that we now have!

5 common survival beliefs that are impacting your life

1️⃣ Choosing seriousness over fun

For years, my parents weren’t allowed to just have.

After all, they had to work countless hours doing labour intensive shift work to pay for our basic needs, tutoring and language school!

And our education and successful future was wayyy more important to them than having fun on a night out.

And what you learned from your parents at a super young age was that you need to be serious about your future.

You need to work hard and take your career seriously. To be thoughtful about the career you choose.

That you need to have a 10 year plan, involving investing your money as soon as possible, when you’re having kids and saving as much money as you can.

It’s all serious. And if you’re having too much fun, you’re not going to have a successful future.

Does this sound like your experience?

2️⃣ Choosing safety & comfort over risk

Our immigrant parents experienced so many kinds of dangers and risks, even just leaving their home country.

They’ve risked their lives. They’ve lost their belongings. They might have lost some friends along the way.

They were literally in the face of danger. So when they ‘made it to the other side’, they put down their roots and tried to establish as much safety and comfort as they could. They wanted to make sure that they never had to go through that again, for anyone in their family.

So growing up, you might’ve heard some of their worries – like not walking the streets alone at night, or bring a jacket so you don’t get cold.

And even now, after their worries have ingrained into your mind, you tend to base your decisions on whether you feel comfortable or safe.

  • Not putting your hand up to take on a new project where you feel inadequate and feel that you won’t really be able to handle the extra work and stress
  • Or you hold yourself back from going for a new job and having to go through the application and interview process because you’re comfortable where you are, even if you don’t particularly enjoy it
  • Maybe you stop yourself from travelling solo because you’re afraid of going out alone, but then you can’t sync up your interests or sync up your schedule with anyone & so you never go

Safety and comfort is a natural human need. But when your parents experience some deeply traumatic experiences, safety and comfort becomes a priority.

Let me know if you’ve ever held yourself back from doing or going for something out of fear, because it feels uncomfortable?

3️⃣ Saving resources

This survival belief is about saving resources – saving money and saving material possessions.

Your parents came to the country with nothing, besides what was already in their pockets.

But they were working towards this hopeful and bright future for you. So they had a lot to do in preparation for that – set you up in a comfortable home and invest into your education.

And all of that involves money.

Because they weren’t making the big bucks, they had to be creative with how they saved money and cut costs, including

  • buying things second hand (now known as thrifting 😂)
  • mending and repairing what they could
  • hoarding things so they could save on needing to buy it twice
  • and only buying what was absolutely essential

So now might have learnt to do the same and to save costs and be frugal wherever you can.

Does this resonate?

4️⃣ Being invisible

This might be a bit more subtle and it’s not to do with not being seen or acknowledged for the hard work that you do.

It’s more about not wanting to stand out for fear of judgement or discrimination.

This is what your parents might’ve faced every single day when they first arrived in the new country.

Standing out could have led to discrimination. Or raising their hands for support could have led to a feeling of weakness.

Being invisible was far safer and much more comfortable.

Have you ever experienced this?

5️⃣ Making sure others are comfortable

This last survival belief is closely related to people pleasing and ensuring that everyone else is looked after, at the expense of your health, your time and energy.

It might have stemmed from your parents needing to make others comfortable in order to get ahead in their career and finances.

Like pleasing their boss so they could maintain their job.

Or taking care of the family by providing enough food.

Or sending money back to their family overseas.

This can be such a big topic.

There’s so much to unpack about these common survival beliefs.

Tell me – Which one of these survival beliefs shows up most for you?

Have a listen to the full podcast episode 👇 if you’re interested to hear more about my experiences with it.

Van Anh

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