What are the instinctual drives?

May 17, 2023

Instinctual drives are the unconscious impulses that have kept us alive. The Self-Preservation Instinct is the most primordial, is present in every life form, and exists to make sure the organism stays alive. Even single celled organisms will move towards stimuli they believe to be nourishing and away from stimuli that seem threatening. In humans this drive manifests as concerns around health, comfort, food, shelter, routine, and material security.

The Sexual Instinct evolved when single celled organisms started bumping up against each other and exchanging genetic material. It is through these transmissions that evolution began. Without the sexual instinct there would be no primal urge to reproduce and ensure one’s genetic material is passed on to the next generation. A person’s preoccupation with their sexual attractiveness and particular courtship display is the human manifestation of the sexual instinct. Humans have evolved to not only pass on their DNA, but also their ideas. Hence, people with a strong sexual instinct are intense not only in their relationships, but also in their interests and activities. They enjoy becoming wholly immersed and merged with their intimate partners or activities and may be driven to leave some type of legacy.

The Social Instinct evolved when certain species started caring for their young instead of only laying eggs and trusting that baby to somehow make it on its own. The social instinct is so strong that in some circumstances it even overrides the Self-Preservation instinct, such as when we see a mother sacrifice her needs or even her life for her child. In a more day to day way, your social instinct is in play whenever you sacrifice your needs for the greater good. People with a strong social instinct are particularly loyal to a job, family, or any other type of social structure.

Everyone has a unique relationship to their instinctual drives. We all have a dominant instinct which means we prioritize it above all else and may even be neurotic around its expression. Having a dominant instinctual energy does not necessarily mean we have competency in this domain, but rather it’s where our attention is drawn, and we will sacrifice other things to meet its priority. We all have a tertiary instinct that we may even be blind to. A crisis may emerge in this domain due to a lack of necessary attention. The middle instinct tends to be more balanced, but also contains blindspots. We all need the community to help us notice these more subtle oversights.

People seem to derive the most benefit from working with their blindspot first. As more energy is consciously diverted towards the blindspot, the dominant instinct naturally starts to take a more natural place. Having a blindspot does not mean that an individual cannot learn to fully leverage this instinctual energy. In fact, once awareness is raised, an individual’s competency with this instinctual energy can rise quickly. Once the blindspot is integrated we start focusing on the nuances of the middle instinct, and develop practices to keep up instinctually balanced and healthy.



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