The 5 Natural Characteristics of  an Authentic Human Being

How to live a VIVID life!


Let me tell you a little about my life in my early 40s.  I had a successful career making a good income, a large comfortable home, position of respect in the community and my church.  It looked as though I had it all together on the outside.  But inside; not so much. 


As I became painfully aware of just how much my life was out of control, I began a journey towards recovery.  Along the way I was given many gifts in the form of a Christ-centered recovery program, others on their journeys and many helpful books.  In the book “Facing Codependency” by Pia Melody et.al. is a pure gold nugget, the Five Natural Characteristics of an Authentic Human Being or the Overview of Codependent Development. Please come along as we explore these powerful insights that have been essential on my journey to wholeness. They were taken and rearranged to form a subtitle of this story is How to Live a VIVID Life.


Let me begin with several bold assertions.  God created us to live a VIVID life as we recognize how and who created us and for what purpose were, we created.  So let’s start at the beginning.  The acronym VIVID stands for Valuable, Imperfect, Vulnerable, Immature and Dependent. These are the five natural characteristics of the authentic human being.


Let’s take each one, one by one, look at it, define it and see how it applies to us.


Valuable – precious, unique


In the beginning God created us, He created us unique and precious.  After forming us from the dust He breathed life into us, this is different from the way He created all other living creatures.  He set us apart for a unique purpose that only we can fulfill.  He created us precious and unique in our relationship with Him and with others.  We are told in scripture that before the foundations of the universe were established God thought of us, each of us, knew our names and thought we were a good idea.  All along the timeline of history and specifically our history He continued to think of us as a good idea, the moment of our conception, birth, and development and even now He thinks of us as a good idea.  We are “on purpose”.  When we begin to understand our value in relationship to God we have a better chance of reclaiming our authenticity, without pride but in humility and strength


Imperfect – perfectly imperfect


The first “I” stands for Imperfect.  We are created perfectly imperfect.  This sounds like an oxymoron, a contradiction but clearly points us to the fact that we are perfectly created with a need for Him in a special part of us.  Some refer to this as “The God Hole” that guides us to desire a relationship with Him, our creator.  This also allows us the ability to make mistakes and even sometimes we do the wrong thing on purpose knowing what we are doing which leads to guilt feelings that can cause us to rectify the situation and ask forgiveness, make amends.  If we were created perfect we would have no need for God nor anyone else for that matter.  We could be an island unto ourselves and we know that that is not the natural state of man.


Vulnerable – we can protect ourselves, we get to decide who and what is safe for us


When we are born, of all creation we are vulnerable and helpless the longest.  Although most teenagers would argue, the human child needs nurture and care for at least 15 years!  During that time our parents and caregivers make decisions for us to keep us alive and developing towards a healthy human being.  Obviously we know children that are in situations that call for them to grow up too fast and they seem to be able to pull it off but that is not natural.  That is survival and even sometimes subsistence.  Adults that grew up that way develop problems in later life that left unattended can produce adults with problems big and small.  So as we become adults we need to know that we can protect ourselves, we have a right and a duty to protect ourselves.  We also get to decide for ourselves who and what is safe for us to let in to our lives; what information, what people, what situations get past our boundaries.


Immature – we grow daily, I will be more mature tomorrow than I am today


Our natural authentic self is designed to grow.  From the time we became a new life from two cells, one from mom and one from dad, we grew.  Finally after 9 months we come out fully formed able to live outside the womb but the real growth takes off from there until we reach our adult size.  But even then we continue to grow in knowledge and skills we need to survive and thrive.  We become more mature each day, that is the natural authentic self and if it doesn’t then we know there is something wrong.  Research indicates that by the time we are 4 years old we will have learned 40% of all we will ever know and that by 8 we will have learned 80% of all we will ever know!  That is why we push children to learn and with their natural curiosity we prepare a safe, healthy, welcoming stimulus rich environment that leads to a balanced engaged adult.  We also know that we have the ability to grow and put things together, form wisdom and insights until the last breath leaves our lips, the last heartbeat fades, that is the way God created us to be.


Dependent – I have needs and wants and know the difference


Many of us grow up to become independent adults, capable of leaping great buildings, faster than the speed of light and living life completely on our own terms.  That is not natural, we need to grow up to be interdependent on others we trust and are worthy of our trust as well as a healthy dependence on God.  One of the main concepts in this area is the recognition that we have both needs and wants and that they are both acceptable and ok.  The natural attribute is to know the difference between them.

Part 2 -- Valuable

Next let’s look at how this all works out on a grid, so that it makes sense how we came to adapt away from our original creation and purpose.  In effect this is what happened when sin entered into the world and continues to do all it can to create in us a false self that we project out and protect mostly to our peril.  The main vehicle to do this is child abuse.  That topic is for another presentation all by itself but for now suffice it to define it as anything that is done to us or failed to do for us in childhood that diminishes any or all of the five natural characteristics we are studying here.


On the worksheet you have you'll notice that it is a grid. The top left column is the Authenticity-the Real Self under which that characteristics of VIVID are spelled out in each row. The next column shows the Adaptation-Loss of Self that is generated by child abuse.  The following row is Adult Codependency-Primary Symptoms that begin to form the foundation for the mask(s) we wear that becomes the false self.  The next column shows the Related Problems-Secondary Symptoms that we exhibit and become the object of the behaviors we try to change unsuccessfully in ourselves or others.  The last column on the right has to do with Recovery.  How do we recover our natural state of authenticity?  I will share several specific suggestions that can help restore one’s authentic self but by no means is it intended to be an exhaustive list, just a starting place.  You get to determine which in which area(s) to begin.




I'll take each characteristic and show how to go across to the right to identify areas of problems that arise from that characteristic not being affirmed or allowed to be an integral part of our authentic identity.


Value  Any behavior or act during our childhood that is considered child abuse leads us to an Adaptation as a defense mechanism or survival skill that leads us to feel  “less than” or “more than” someone else.


We will discuss in depth at another time what constitutes child abuse and how it takes away our feeling of preciousness. For now we can list areas of abuse are physical, psychological, emotional, sexual, intellectual and spiritual to name a few. When child abuse happens it makes us feel shame. When we are shamed we can feel less than others, unworthy or not good enough.  When we are filled with grandiosity or false empowerment, we develop a sense of superiority. 


We retreat inside ourselves and rationalize as a child that we are less than someone else because of being treated as less than or actually we can be begin to feel better then others in spite of the abuse.  A useful tool to understand this is the totem pole or climbing the rungs of the ladder of success. Sounds good until we see the unintended consequences for both ourselves and others.  This started in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve were tempted and then they fell prey to the idea that they should not let God withhold their being able to be equal with Him.  That’s where and when Satan introduced the idea or big lie that we needed to compare ourselves with others and now society embraces the big lie that everybody belongs somewhere on the totem pole or ladder.  Our goal then is to step on or over others to improve our position and it happens on so many levels.  All we have to do is look at these questions; who has more value in our society’s eyes, a rich person or a poor one, a man or a woman, an adult or a child, a white man or a black woman, a super athlete or a quadriplegic, the USA president or our garbage collector, the doctor or the patient, the list goes on and on and on.  We either are left with an inferiority complex, never feeling as though we are enough or we feel superior and entitled because so many in our little world are below us.


When we begin to glimpse who we are and how He created us with inherent value, we begin to live differently.  He created us in His image so that we can honor/love Him first then we can also honor/love the image He places in each of us and live in harmony.  But first we must learn how to see ourselves through His eyes and then we can ask Him to help us see others through His eyes as well.  He looks at us on a horizontal plane, all seven and one half billion human beings on this planet now to say nothing of the millions that have ever lived and the unknowable multitudes that He has in mind in the future.  He looks at us equally all at the same time.  I don’t know how He does it but I accept that He is God, I’m not and He can help me to view from His vantage; point that makes my life better.  So, my first step is to reject the lie straight from Hell, the view from the totem pole or ladder and choose to view myself and others through the eyes of Jesus.


So now as we move on to the right, we begin to see Adult Codependency develop (the primary symptom of not feeling valued).  We experience that as a difficulty in appropriate levels of self esteem.  It is normal in some settings to feel competent while in others we feel less than capable.  What is not normal is feeling inadequate in all areas, all the time.  This brings on the Related Problem/Secondary Symptom of negative control.  We learn to manipulate, lie or behave in passive aggressive ways to compensate when we feel inadequate.  We get a sense of powerlessness which we give in to and behave as though we were invisible.  Or we blow ourselves up to larger than life, bulling anyone that gets in our way, using and abusing as many as we can as long as we look good and in control. 


The reaction to that feeling of powerlessness comes out as negative control.


The goal in Recovery is to learn how to esteem the self from within.


  • Identify areas in life where we feel less than others or better than others
  • Identify negative self talk.
    • Hungry
    • Angry
    • Lonely
    • Tired
  • Affirm identity as a unique, precious creation with value
  • Find a safe place with safe people to share your story and identify a family of choice – find individuals that can provide you with healthy parenting, etc.
  • “God doesn’t love us because we are good; He loves us because we are precious.”

Part 3 -- Imperfect

The next part of living a VIVID life is to recognize we are made perfectly Imperfect

There are several ways to find out if you suffered child abuse in this area.  Don’t overlook emotional abuse as it is prevalent in many children’s experiences. One is to look for problems in ones spiritual life and do we have a healthy connection with God or are we really afraid of the angry old man with a white beard and robes holding a 36” Louisville Slugger ready to clobber you when you make a mistake.  Do you feel as though your life has been a horrible game of “Whack a Mole” and you are the mole worried every time you poke your head out you’ll be punished for some misdeed?  Do you get the feeling that you just can’t get life “right” that you just don’t make mistakes you probably were a “mistake”?  Is life all about following a set of unattainable/ unrealistic rules that someone else makes up for you?  Do you have a history of lying, manipulation so as not to admit you don’t feel good about yourself?  These are questions one can use to help gage to what degree we have a problem with the authentic characteristic of imperfection.


I grew up in an environment (home and church) that taught that one could live a Christian life without sin so I got handed a big load of perfectionism that blinded me to my own faults but made the faults of others stick out like a sore thumb.  I developed as a “Goodie two-shoes” as a persona while others go completely the opposite way as “rebels”, the “Bad-One” or “Black Sheep” of the family.  The Adaptation to child abuse in this characteristic causes “black or white” thinking, “good or bad”, either a giving in to a negative self view or creating a persona of perfection.  The inability to own ones imperfection cripples our vision of reality that leads to living a lie, always looking over ones shoulder expecting at any moment to be exposed as a fraud one feels deep inside.  We go to great lengths to hide these feelings and views of self to others as well as ourselves!  When presented with irrefutable proof of our mistake or misdeed we react as a cornered beast and lash out violently or go to great lengths to avoid the person or situation.  This Primary Symptom of Adult Codependency then produces a distorted view of reality and a nonexistent spiritual life which is replaced with following a set of rules or making up rules for one’s self that moves into the place reserved for God, “the God hole”.  Therefore we need no “higher power” or we replace the “higher power” with a set of rules.




  • Take a healthy inventory in Step 4
  • Share with a trusted sponsor or trusted group the nature of what happened to you and what you did that harmed others
  • Make amends
  • You get to decide when you are ready to share your reality with a group that isn’t going to use the information against you
  • You get to decide who you trust
  • Replace the false image of God you have developed with the God that created the universe you live in and made you on purpose for a purpose
  • Reclaim one’s authentic self as a perfectly imperfect creation made in His image for a healthy relationship with Him, self and others


Part 3


Part 4


Part 5


Part 6


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© Luther Case