Three Things We All Need as Social Creatures

Get ready to reserve a seat for yourself and everyone you meet.

I have a theory of three sets of survival instincts: physical, social, and procreative (I made a pamphlet briefly explaining them here and the free preview portion of my guided journal goes into it in more depth).

There’s a lot of cross-over between these instincts that can make it difficult to know what it is motivating us in a given situation, or how we can preemptively satisfy those instincts so as to avoid impulsive actions with less-than-great outcomes.

Doing so requires focusing on one set of instincts at a time and addressing how that set works both on its own and when intersecting with each of the other sets.

The Three A’s of Satisfying Your Social Survival Instincts

  1. acknowledgementneeded at the intersection of your physical and social survival | the first thing you need to survive as a person living among people is for others to recognize the fact of your physical existence/presence in the world : people look at you and you look at them as a resource (friend, family, colleague, vendor, mentor, etc.) or an obstacle (a physical thing blocking their path to be circumnavigated in some way) : all too easily taken for granted because — as physical creatures — we are always navigating moving through the world with as few collisions as possible : all too easily taken personally because physical needs are impersonal/automated while social needs are personal/intended.
  2. acceptanceneeded predominantly for social survival | the second thing you need to survive as a person living among other people is for others to recognize that you are you and that you have an internal life beyond what they are capable of seeing on your physiological surface : you and the people around you all see that each of you require space to be yourselves and do your thing and you each hold that space for yourselves as well as each other : easily taken for granted because none of are mind-readers : easily taken personally because we all perceive ourselves to be communicating what we need to communicate in no uncertain terms while forgetting that perception is based on our own individual/internal standards for clear communication and right interpretation.
  3. approvalneeded at the intersection of your social and procreative survival | the third thing you need to survive as a person living among other people to agree with you from time to time : people consenting to participate in certain activities together, banding together on common ground, or generally expressing that they like/enjoy something : ease of taking this for granted has a direct correlation to our privilege in a given situation : ease of taking this personally has a direct correlation to our sense of entitlement (justified or not) in a given situation.

Just looking at the words I’m sure you already know how closely tied their dictionary definitions are. The differences between the words themselves are nuanced, just like the needs of our survival instincts — as they intersect and merge and all the rest — are nuanced.

And just as you need these things to survive as a social creature, so, too, does each and every person you will ever meet.

Please be prepared when you go to communicate your needs to others, to be aware of how you respond to theirs.

Also published on Medium.