12 Ways Primal Instincts Keep You Alive

Last updated on April 9th, 2024 at 08:40 pm

Discover 12 ways primal instincts keep you alive, from seeking shelter to running away from danger and more.

Since the dawn of humanity, humans have relied on their innate behaviours for survival.

These innate reactions, deeply rooted in our genetic makeup, aided our ancestors in navigating life’s dangers and ensuring their survival.

Even today, these instincts play a crucial role in your daily life, often acting as a subconscious defense mechanism that helps you remain alive.

In this article, we will explore 12 ways primal instincts continue to keep you alive, guiding your decisions and actions.

Recommended: Balancing Primal Instincts and Emotional Intelligence

Table of Contents

Ways Primal Instincts Keep You Alive

Primal instincts and preservation of life

1. Self-Preservation

Self-preservation, a basic instinct, safeguards you from harm and death by promoting behaviours that ensure personal safety.

This instinct triggers the fight-or-flight response in the face of danger, prompting quick and decisive action to avoid threats.

By prioritizing survival, you can protect yourself from harm, ultimately reducing the risk of injury or death in hazardous situations.

Related: Dangers of Ignoring Your Instincts

2. Fight-or-Flight Response

Fight or flight response in demonstration of primal instinct

One of the most well-known basic instincts is the fight-or-flight response, triggered when faced with a potentially dangerous situation.

With a release of stress hormones like adrenaline, your body prepares to either confront or flee from the threat.

This instinctive response heightens your senses, increases your heart rate, dilates your pupils, and sharpens focus, allowing for quicker reactions and better survival chances.

By so doing, you flee from wild animals, dodge the potholes or swiftly move away from falling trees and stay alive in the meantime.

Related: The Basic Human Instincts

3. Reflex Actions

Reflex actions are instantaneous, involuntary responses to external stimuli that help us avoid harm.

For instance, when you touch something hot, you quickly withdraw your hand before consciously processing the pain.

Reflex actions, governed by your spinal cord, prevent further damage by bypassing the slower conscious brain processes.

In this way, you stay out of harm and continue to live.

Related: Benefits and Pitfalls of Hero Instinct

4. Intuition

Often referred to as a “gut feeling,” intuition is an ancient survival tool that relies on personal experiences and subconscious perceptions.

It allows you to make split-second judgments, even when you lack concrete evidence.

Intuition draws information from your past encounters or experiences, helping you anticipate potential dangers or recognize opportunities.

Thereby helping you know the best foot to put forward.

Related: Trusting Your Instincts in Relationships

5. Hunger and Thirst

A lady drinking water to quench her thirst

Your basic instincts drive the sensations of hunger and thirst, reminding you to fulfill your physiological needs for survival.

These instincts are crucial, as they ensure you nourish and hydrate your body adequately to avoid dehydration and shock.

Failing to respond to these instincts can lead to severe health complications and, in extreme cases, death.

6. Rest and Sleep Patterns

Sleep and rest, the primal instincts that help keep you alive

Primal instincts regulate your sleep patterns, ensuring you get adequate rest and recharge your bodies to ensure survival

They dictate when you feel tired, prioritizing energy conservation and helping you to maintain focus and alertness during wakeful periods.

The instinctual need for rest and sleep is essential for physical and mental recuperation, allowing the body to conserve energy and repair itself.

By promoting regular sleep patterns, this instinct safeguards you from the detrimental effects of sleep deprivation and exhaustion.

Related: Intuition vs Instincts – The Differences

7. Fear Response

Fear is an instinctual response you experience when faced with potential danger or threats.

It serves as a valuable survival mechanism, alerting you to your surroundings and prompting you to avoid risky situations.

Fear triggers an adrenaline rush, sharpens your senses, and prepares your body for immediate action.

8. Social Bonds

Social bonding instinct 1

Human beings possess an instinctual need for social connections.

Our innate desire for companionship and belonging to a group trace back to our primal instincts.

By forming social bonds, you increase your chances of survival, as cooperative actions enhance your ability to acquire resources, protect one another, and procreate.

Of course, you know what isolation and lack of connection can do to someone.

Related: How to Trigger a Man’s Heroic Instincts

9. Curiosity

Curiosity can be seen as an instinct that drives our exploration and desire to learn.

By seeking new knowledge and understanding, you can identify resources, avoid potential dangers, and develop innovative solutions.

Also, you gather knowledge, adapt to your surroundings, and better understand potential threats or opportunities.

Curiosity promotes creativity and problem-solving skills, promoting survival and innovation.

Primal instinct encourages adaptability, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills, ultimately contributing to survival and advancement as a human.

10. Seeking Out Potential Mates for Reproduction

The primal instinct to reproduce is a fundamental driver of human survival.

Human beings are innately programmed to procreate, ensuring the continuation of our species over generations.

This instinctual drive is often reinforced by your emotional attachments, contributing to the overall preservation of human life.

If you don’t have the urge to procreate, you will be the last of your kind after you pass on.

Related: How to Sharpen Your Primal Instincts

11. Seeking Shelter for Protection from The Elements

A lady in cold and looking for shelter

Seeking shelter for protection from the elements is a primal instinct crucial for survival.

This instinct drives you to find refuge from environmental threats such as extreme weather, natural disasters, and harsh climates.

By seeking shelter, humans mitigate the risk of exposure-related injuries, hypothermia, heatstroke, and other life-threatening conditions, thereby staying alive.

12. Seeking Out Opportunities for Exercise and Physical Activity

Seeking out opportunities for exercise and physical activity is a primal instinct that aids survival.

This instinct drives you to engage in movement and exertion, promoting physical fitness and overall health.

Regular physical activity supports cardiovascular health, muscular strength, and metabolic function, reducing the risk of chronic diseases and enhancing mental well-being.

Additionally, physical activity promotes agility, coordination, and endurance, essential for evading threats and pursuing sustenance ensuring the preservation of physical vitality, contributing to longevity and overall survival.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do primal instincts contribute to survival?

Primal instincts drive behaviors essential for survival, such as seeking food, shelter, and protection from environmental threats.

Can primal instincts be overridden by conscious decision-making?

Yes, conscious reasoning can override primal instincts, allowing for adaptive responses in complex or novel situations.

What are some examples of primal instincts in everyday life?

Examples include the fight-or-flight response, seeking nourishment, forming social bonds, and seeking shelter for protection.

How do primal instincts influence decision-making and behaviour?

Primal instincts guide fundamental behaviors related to survival, reproduction, social interaction, and self-preservation, shaping decision-making and responses to environmental challenges.


Primal instincts are deeply rooted in our genetic makeup, serving as crucial tools for our survival.

Fight-or-flight responses, reflex actions, intuition, hunger and thirst cues, sleep patterns, fear responses, social bonds, curiosity, self-preservation, and the drive to reproduce are some of the 12 ways primal instincts keep you alive.

Acknowledging and understanding these instincts can provide us with a deeper appreciation for the mechanisms that keep us alive.

By nurturing and honing these instincts, you can harness their power to navigate the challenges of today’s world and enhance your chances of survival.


  1. https://medium.com/@teresawriter/agreed-our-primal-instincts-still-serve-us-well-by-keeping-us-alive-482c7e4c54d0
  2. https://dismantledmind.com/how-your-reptilian-brain-controls-you/
The Conducts Of Life | piousclements@gmail.com | Website | + posts

Pious Clements is the insightful voice behind "The Conducts of Life" blog, where he writes about life ethics, self-development, life mastery, and the dynamics of people and society.

With a profound understanding of human behaviuor and societal dynamics, Pious offers thought-provoking perspectives on ethical living and personal growth.
Through engaging narratives and astute observations, he inspires readers to navigate life's complexities with wisdom and integrity, encouraging a deeper understanding of the human experience and our place within society.