Contribution by Isabel Hernández Negrín, Las Palmas, Canary Islands, Spain.
What do many animals do to feel safe?
Seek or build a shelter that they defend from predators or fellow creatures that are also interested in it. From that base they will defend their lives and that of their young.
What do we do to feel safe? The same thing, adapted to our way of life and our psychological complexity. We take shelter and defend ourselves by seeking not only physical security, but also psychological security. We call a ‘search for psychological security’ that tendency to adopt a defensive attitude towards what we feel that undermines us and causes us insecurity in the face of the constantly changing circumstances of life.
In this way, we seek a secure relationship with our partner; that our children be as we wish them to be in order to make us feel good; that we be respected at work; that we be admired and loved; that we remain forever young and strong, etc. And moreover, we want this to be the same for all time, and not to change.
But, as in reality everything is constantly changing, we always fear for our security; what if I lose my job, or my marriage fails; what if my children do not find work; or something bad happens to them; what if I am caught out in a mistake; what if I do not get the promotion; what if I cannot pay for my house and …etc., etc. Feel what these phrases arouse in you: insecurity, anxiety and the desire to return to seeking security. It is a trap made of thoughts that try to make you seek a security that only exists in the imagination. And that makes us more and more anxious, encouraging that illusory security.
And what can harm our security? Other people!! So, we also have to protect ourselves from them.
How much healthier it would be to deal with things as they arise and stop putting a dressing on before the wound takes place. This does not mean that we should not deal with everyday things. But we need to be aware of these automatic thoughts, since they only draw us into a vicious circle, depriving us of the energy to act in accordance with the reality that exists in the present moment. What is more the feeling of insecurity impels us towards a selfish attitude or rather one that is based on what I fear and want to avoid. Based on that, I may consider any person or situation as a threat and I will defend myself tooth and nail. An example? I demand complete fidelity and loyalty from my partner, although there is not a trace of behaviour on their part that suggests otherwise. I defend my child to teachers, although I do not know how my child really behaves at school, since their bad behaviour might make me ashamed. I want to shield myself, I want a contract to shield myself from life, so that nothing disturbs my security and tranquillity. Does my demand seem reasonable to you? Nobody can sign a contract like that with you. With ‘I’ as the be-all and end-all. That is the trap of seeking psychological security. Let go of this desire, it is just a chimera that ensnares you. It is just an illusion to think that we can control everything relating to our security. And it will not give you space to live life in peace and happiness and to enjoy what exists; the present moment. Life just exists at this precise moment. Let us not waste it with other things.