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Identify Our

Childhood Survival


Those of us raised in dysfunctional families developed traits that set us apart from other children. These traits protected us from a difficult time when we were young. Everyone develops some kind of trait to get through childhood, but for those of us raised in dysfunctional families, these traits have become internally ingrained and block us from living a fulfilling life of love within relationships with others and our Higher Power.


This Step invites us to begin the journey of asking our Higher Power to remove and heal our childhood survival traits. Our Higher Power is the source for total forgiveness and will help us heal from our old patterns of behavior. We have tried all of our lives to heal ourselves. However, we have suffered nothing except continued emotional pain. This pain can be healed if we ask for help; conversely, the pain will only be prolonged if we stay in isolation.


Coming out of isolation is a key step in A Program Of Miracles. We share our pain with other people working A Program Of Miracles and we discover that this pain opens the door for healing. This pain is not the same as the pain we suffered in childhood where we had no choice but to suffer the consequences of others’ actions; this new realization helps us to see that this pain we now feel is a healing pain and that tears are the medium of exchange for healing.


By sharing our pain we know we are not alone and there are many others who know how we feel. We stay on this continued path and we feel the strength and love of our Higher Power. We begin to understand that our Higher Power loves us without strings and no matter what, our Higher Power is always available to us.


In this step we prepare to let go of survival traits that once protected us. These traits have become self-defeating, and no longer work in our adult lives. We have used them to protect our wounded selves and, as children, we picked up whatever worked at the time. We may have gone years without recognizing that our traits have consequences.


It’s not until the pain of these consequences becomes apparent, that denial lifts. We begin to see how we act out our traits over and over until the pain is so great we feel hopeless that things will ever change.


But now it’s time to release these ‘friends’ and allow the love of our Higher Power to reach us. By continuing to indulge in the traits that no longer work, we block the source of enlightenment and we become stuck and staid. By identifying and accepting that we have these traits, we become ready to change.


So, let us refer back to the list of common childhood survival traits from Step 5 where we looked at how we depended on them to protect us as children.


In this step we identify where we would like to get to with the help of our Higher Power.




The first column lists examples of survival traits. The second column suggests when some healing may have taken place.


In the third column, acknowledge if this is true for you and add more details to further indicate how you would like to heal these traits:

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