How Survival Shapes Who You Are

By Leo Gura - April 26, 2021 | 17 Comments

How your childhood survival challenges defined the structure of your psyche

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Josh ruloff says:

I love u man radio is air fucking me passionately

josh says:


Adam says:

Thank you you are an angel in my life

crusty says:

At what age did the leo lose his hair?

crusty says:

Thank you for the thought provoking content. It is some of the deepest philosophy I have happened upon thus far.

Max Gron says:

Leo’s survival is so fake due to the contradictions, he’s logical, he’s illogical, he’s rational, he’s irrational, he survives, he changes his survival, he doesn’t change, his beliefs are the same, he’s teaching ancient wisdom, he’s adding a modern twist. Most of the time he’s different from 10 years ago. What he wants is simply to teach psychology and it’s not a cult, it doesn’t reject conventional religious practice.
My survival will have to mean the death of my twenties, to live from 34, to have consistently the tastes in music, movies, documentaries, news and television I developed, to have the beliefs I have now that I developed, to drop one of my role models, and to doubt everything, some I never really done until over 34 years later.

Me says:

Been listenning to you for years. Dont know how to thank you for saving my life.
I really hope youre deeply happy, fulfilled and satisfied with life.

Random College Kid says:

Just wanted to give some examples of how to reflect on survival in your life, considering I’ve explored this concept in a lot of books in your life, just to share if anyone wants some extra stuff other than what Leo says. For example, there is inner child work, which is a type of therapy where you make friends with your inner child, such as having to relearn how to have fun or giving yourself the positive encouragement you didn’t have as a child by writing letters to your inner child. There’s the ACE studies, or adverse childhood experiences quiz, where if you have three or more, you’re more likely to die earlier according to statistics, if you do not have interventions to work with your trauma. First heard about this from the website traumahealed. I recommend that as an intro to trauma, to offer the basics.

You can also look up the types of childhood abuse or the types of abusive parents. For example, there are the obvious forms of abuse, but also emotional neglect, which is statistically the most common form of childhood trauma, but very little people are aware of it. This is where there is little attention to taking care of your emotions growing up. Your emotions were ignored, or you were told to just suppress your feelings. Your parents may not have abused you, but you don’t feel emotionally close to them at all. Maybe they were always working, and it might not even be out of malice. You were so poor, they had to work all day and they couldn’t talk to you much, like that. Another less well known one is parentification, where you’re forced to act like the parent to your own parent, causing a power imbalance. Maybe your parents divorced, and you had to emotionally comfort both of your parents around that even if you were a young child. Also, see attachment styles and childhood.

Another example is the Enneagram, which is a psychological personality type system based on what your biggest fear is and your main survival strategy according to that fear. This isn’t a black and white thing. Everyone has these 9 fears, it’s more that it’s placed in order of what is the scariest to least scariest to you. There’s also a main tritype, which is based on how you respond to anger, shame and fear. The anger types are type 8, type 9 and type 1, the shame types are type 2, type 3, and type 4, while lastly, the fear types are type 5, type 6, and type 7. Then you order the tritype based on what is the strongest emotion you use for survival to the weakest.

Then there are even wings, where you lean onto one side, like if you’re type 9, you can be a 9 wing 1 or a 9 wing 8, so it’s very complicated with hundreds of possible combinations, considering this is a whole personality system based on your biggest traumas and your coping strategies around that. There are even levels of health for each type, of the healthiest to unhealthiest manifestations of those coping strategies from healthy, average and to unhealthy, but that’s too advanced to talk about now.

There are also multiple childhood trauma self help advice type books, and there are multiple books on dealing with abusive parents or abusive grandparents. That kind of stuff. A lot written by professionals, some with personal experiences and a few are written from a spiritual perspective, though I’ve read them all.

Tried to fill in some things in Leo’s exercise, so I could at least not be considered hypocritical in just giving advice, but not trying much myself.

So here I go.

Life is. . . a puzzle. Life is horrible, but it is interesting. I stick around just to see what would happen, even if things would end horribly. Life is full of drama happening around me, but secretly, I find that entertaining, only if I watch from afar, of which I tend to do. Life is complicated, and people say it’s simple, but I don’t understand how to think of life as simple. Life is a wild ride, full of ups and down, good and bad.

When I think of the men are blank, and women are blank kind of thing, I just think men make sense and women make sense. It boggles my mind why people don’t get the opposite sex, when I grew up being involved in random groups of men and groups of women together. I was always that random kid that grew up that was involved in multiple diverse cliques in high school, and people invited me anywhere, but I never really had a main place to belong to. No one was that close, but I was friends with about everyone.

Happiness. . . is a mystery, and I feel like I have to be a detective like Sherlock Holmes to figure it out. Though not in a distressing way, but the act of solving the mystery of happiness makes me happy in of itself. Philosophy just for the sake of philosophy. No need for anything pragmatic. Happiness is fleeting. Happiness leaves, then comes back, leaves again, then comes back again. Happiness is simple in theory, but it’s easy to complicate it. Happiness has a set of habits associated with it, but it’s easier said than done. Happiness is something I feel at mild average amounts, but nothing on such a grand level beyond normal that I would want it to be.

Success is being able to figure out what would make me deeply happy, and I have no idea what that is, so I’d just say success is unknown. Money is freedom, but most people don’t have that freedom. Sex is normal but very awkward. Science is a tool. Religion is a tool. Both are tools you can use. Like any tool, it can be used badly or well, but some people don’t know how to use tools properly at all, and most people are like that in society. Spirituality is whatever offers a person meaning, whether someone believes in God, or they’re an atheist.

Work is tiring and rewarding, and it could only be better if I had the same IT type work but with a lot more regular breaks. School is long, but it’s part of that political game you have to play to be taken seriously by society. God is a mystery, like happiness. Government is stupid, at least most of it is.

For I am blank. . . I say, I am stupid. People tell me I’m smart all the time, but I feel stupid. I feel like I have no idea what is happening in life. So much of life is unknown, and I’m just winging it. I know older folks say everyone is winging it, but that doesn’t help it much. I want a life where I don’t just wing it all the time because I don’t understand what the hell I’m doing, even if people say understanding what you’re supposed to do in life is impossible. There will always be unexpected stuff, but it’s nice to have at least some outline of what the hell is going on.

Just my personal thoughts.

Max Gron says:

Survival is a dangerous thing, if you play with knives you’ll be safe, bonk bonk, honk honk, honky tonk.

Max Gron says:

People say I’m any of the millions of abusive things they say about me, they even say I’m stupid, wicked, evil, even crazy, and they call me an arsehole or an asshole. In 99.8% of the cases I’m none of those things and so not an asshole, even though I can be an asshole sometimes. I’m what I think, my beliefs, and my very acts in the real world, even to you (the latter being to you, the former to me), take a look: you know I sit there writing and when someone is breaking the rules I don’t bind them up or do something about it, I just sit there letting them run amuck. My very act if you look closely is importantly centered on drinking wine and eating pasta and parfaits, and drinking coffee and smoking, yet people react as if it’s not what I’m doing but that the way I’m doing it has an evil significance, no it doesn’t, it’s very much what I do and less the way I’m doing it, I haven’t done anything evil. This is how it shaped my psyche, struggling to find the right morals, it’s incredibly simple but people act as if my reasons are complicated, no they’re not, it’s very much one thing: my morals.

Jonathan says:

Thank you, Leo, for your incredible insights; I don’t hear any insights like this other than you do. I’ve been watching your videos for many years. Your videos have changed my overall perspective on my life. With grace, I look forward to more videos that you will release in the future.

Monty says:

Life’s purpose & behaviour, human or otherwise, is driven by the never ending need for reproductive advantage.

Max Gron says:

I know what my survival’s like, I happen to be an upper-middle-class man born into a high income family, and I do white-collar work by gaining money on my phone. And I know what it’s like to wear a suit and eat in restaurants and at weddings, and I know what it’s like to go to places like Noshery and Fasta Pasta, and as such I should be having better food like the diet of a gourmand, having a hearty interest in good food. Nothing gets better than this diet, unless it’s ultragourmand, to which the food is beautiful and luxurious. I’ve been down there before, but I can just afford mini-packaged meals, crisps, and biscuits, also caviare on crackers and cheese on crackers, I think this is how I survive, seriously, as I’m used to luxury foods and also porridge, pasta and curries to name a few.

Max the shithead says:

Yeah, that’ll be right, surviving on food, which isn’t the way I am, and being skinny isn’t the only way, and it’s not what I did all my life. Leo’s like a little sage talking words of wisdom, but that’s the thing, he’s sapient, he’s only aping wisdom, furthermore he apes sageness, he’s not a sage, well-thought out guy, he’s a frustrated man over the students doing things wrongly, complaining as he does that this isn’t reality, and it’s not your true self, especially in videos of changing your life, he doesn’t think you’re intelligent, he thinks you’re a foolish idiot not doing the work. And furthermore luxury mingled with simple foods isn’t me being shallow like that’s all I eat, and it’s not the only diet I’ll stick to. And I’m not merely an evil person doing things bottoms up, and I’m not a drunkard being suspected whenever I drink wine, the suspicion is when I don’t have a drop of wine, but I haven’t done anything to violate a man’s principles, and it’s not the ways of the universe. I think all this has to change, and it should be the death of me being an arsehole, when you really mean my behaviour’s negative. I’m not some idiot who’s going to all my life do these things, that would make me an arsehole, and I’m known to behave in such annoying ways as this. It has to change, and I should take this seriously.

Max Raoy Gron says:

It’s so simple yet so scream-worthy, changing your survival, given that it changes my core I’m only going to settle on soy milk instead of rice milk and oat milk, and those same foods I eat, and drinking of Bushell’s “gourmet” instant coffee (it’s not gourmet, gourmet just means the product is good so just buy it and consume it, that’s their food-processing philosophy), little “changes” like that, but I’m not going to survive without my beliefs or with changing anything else, and I’m not going to survive bettering myself or changing my ways, or any real change, I still have to eat nut-free foods, and fruit muesli, and I still have to have my breakfast and coffee in the morning except on the Sabbath days, when I can’t brew by then, I lack the memory to do that. And fruit muesli isn’t an abnormal muesli, and I don’t have to observe what people are eating, it’s a diet separate from other people’s diets and I have to respect that, and I have to respect the fact that when I’m sad I’m happy to be that way, as a sadsack without feeling better, of things too new I can’t go there, and I can’t break the bonds of my religion, and I can’t live without religious music, I’ve seen a worker of Oldfield House survive on something simple like religious Indian music, I don’t know what music I like since I changed it several times, in the end my changes always revert to my old tricks unless anything smacking of something new feels like a regular habit to me. Of the food I eat I’m not tied into nuts and I don’t have avocado-oil potato crisps if I knew what was in them. If I don’t know I’m eating avocado or don’t recognise what the chip is I’ll undoubtedly eat it, anything that smacks of junk food I don’t like, I’m addicted to it. I’m not in the pasta culture of Italians getting fat eating pasta, filled with salt, fat or cream, falsely telling you it’s good for you, get out of here! I think it’s a stupid culture when Italians should be eating Italian rice salad with tuna and vegetables, it’s not the only way to eat, and it’s not an exception how healthy it is, and it’s not “the chosen one” in food, I think I sorted out my survival already and survive better, well done, but stuck in my ways I have healthier coping mechanisms.

Maxiwrong says:

I get this stupid crap, I understand, religion’s stupid unless it’s of Soren Kierkegaard, I use my intellect non-stop, you don’t realise religious founders are stupid? Fucking idiots! Religious people make war, they lie that God and ghosts are real, no they’re not, all my life I was told I was wrong when I disbelieved in God, with the claim I’m in fantasy when I disbelieve in ghosts, those are lies! The truth is nothing that’s supernatural is real, reality is natural, God’s in your imagination, there’s no such thing as God, the truth? Leo’s ignoring the facts, true means it’s in accordance with fact, no more lies, clinging to God, it’s bullshit, you cling! Cowards! Let go of God and no more God, religion refuses to admit it’s wrong, it’s wrong about insects, and it’s wrong about death.

Max the shithead says:

As to my survival, I survived with the type of religion I follow, Kierkegaardian, and if it was other people’s way, with holy spirit bullshit, I would’ve thought I had a false model of reality, as with Islam, the Christians will coerce their ridiculous rules on you, if I survived like you, obedient to rules, I would’ve made trouble for myself being told, apathetically, that I can make my own decisions, yes, that’s what shapes my religion, which isn’t the standard religion but a cult, it’s different to another branch of Christianity, it can’t be very different, it’s with the Bible (Christianity 700 years ago was very different to 19th-century Christianity), it’s hard to believe the beliefs I’ve got but it can’t suddenly change 3 days later, as with pessimism and anti-Australianism, looking at my writing it shows the attack or disdain for my country, it’s not so much that I’m an atheist, I’m religious like the rest of you. The music I listen to is the result of being told the music is crap, I’m not buying it, black people listening to reggae is the same as my childhood taste for reggae music, it started off as a kid listening to Bobby McFerrin’s “don’t worry, be happy” and I said to myself “of all the West Indies music in the world I like reggae music”, even earlier with Bobby McFerrin I said “I’m really into reggae music”, at some point I looked up a recipe for Jamaican curry, there’s ketchup in it, hearing of ketchup in the curry, I thought that was bad news, I grew up never trying ketchup in the curry, some people make spaghetti bolognaise with ketchup in it, which smells like vinegar, 45 year olds aren’t really good cooks, we give in to the taste of their cooking but it tastes like cheap food. Given that I lived too long (41 years), I’d rather die. I’m not afraid of heat, cold or other acts of God causing me to die, my mother only keeps me alive otherwise she would have no son, the son shouldn’t die before the mother according to her “logic”, given her “logic”, what’s logic about it? She can’t be reasoned with.

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