Discovering Your Wacky

Have you ever wondered why people do wacky things? Or a better question … have you ever wondered why YOU do wacky things or behave in ways that aren’t really you?


While it is easy to point to other people and say “Geez, what’s gotten into him,” I am referring to a behavior that every human being does in his or her own way. That behavior is called your Survival Mechanism. It is the thing that we do when we are angry, sad or scared.


What is interesting about your Survival Mechanism is you have no idea you are doing it at the time, so in a way, it is like an out of body experience. It is also different and unique to every human being.


To understand the Survival Mechanism, you can go back to the caveman days. You may have heard of flight, freeze or fight. When a saber-tooth tiger came barreling towards the caveman, what did he do? It depends on the behavior the caveman learned and developed as a child. You will have very different reactions from different people.


In modern times, our Survival Mechanism comes out in unique ways. It usually stems from a story or way of being that we developed from our childhood. To understand your own behavior, you can work with a coach and even come up with some fun names.


There are endless types of Survival Mechanisms that you can name.  But here are my favorites:

The Over Achieving Sloth, the person who is very successful and driven yet when they are confronted with fear, sadness or anger they become almost coach potato like.

The Unbalanced Scale of Justice, the person who refuses to look at both sides of a situation and will fight to the bitter end for a person or cause that they feel is under represented.

The Polished Turd, the person who will take any bad situation and polish it up. Instead of accepting or dealing with the bad, they find a way to make it pretty or as we say will tie a big bow on it.


I too as a coach had my Survival Mechanism named by my colleagues. Mine are Self Serving Mother Teresa, Passive Dictator and Tormented Tiger. Anyone who knows me well has probably seen these come out. While it is not flattering or even embarrassing to reveal this about myself, this behavior is not me, it is just characteristics of the way I may behave when confronted.


Why do we name our Survival Mechanism? It is part of becoming self-aware. Our Survival Mechanism can get us out of some tight situations and can be very handy, but it can also get us into trouble. People can be stubborn when they are stuck in their Survival Mechanism and often refuse to see other ways of handling things.

However, even when we are aware of our Survival Mechanism, it does not mean that it goes away. We are just able to have more of a handle on it and confronting situations turn more into a choice of how we behave rather than that out of body experience.

Allyson Jannotta