What does your security blanket look like?

Can thought patterns act as security blankets?

Photo courtesy of Matthew Henry

Photo courtesy of Matthew Henry

When two of my nieces were young, they toted around a security blanket of sorts in the form of a stuffed animal.

One was a plush bunny named Honey Bunny and the other was a stuffed blue bear named Badoo.

These beloved stuffies were shuffled about everywhere! Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Playtime, reading time, naptime. It didn't matter. Wherever my two nieces went, so too did Honey Bunny and Badoo.

Like most beloved toys, these ones were bestowed with magical powers. Each had the ability to soothe fears, calm tempers and comfort pains. Their mere presence (and perhaps a cuddle and a kiss) was all that was required to initiate the magic.

As adults, we can clearly see and understand that the security derived from Honey Bunny and Badoo was merely an illusion. The true source of their comfort lay within the minds of my nieces.

To them, however, Honey Bunny and Badoo were most definitely responsible for making everything better.

To them, the world was experienced from the outside-in:

Something outside of themselves had created discomfort (eg. cookies were denied until their vegetables had been eaten).
And so,
to them, it made sense for something outside of themselves to provide the remedy (Honey Bunny and Badoo).

In reality, however, the world is experienced from the inside-out:

While it looks like denying the cookies was the circumstance that created the discomfort, 
 in reality, it was their internal thought about being denied the cookie that created the discomfort.
Likewise,
while it looks like Honey Bunny and Badoo created the remedy in the form of comfort, in reality, it was their internal thoughts about Honey Bunny and Badoo's presence and magical powers that provided the true remedy.

Both nieces have since outgrown their need for Honey Bunny and Badoobut the memory evoked some thought about our dependence on metaphorical 'security blankets' as we get older.

Some are easier to spot than others.

For example, tangible habits such as smoking or drinking or overeating can act as a security blanket of sorts as they often appear to counter and comfort uncomfortable feelings we may be experiencing in the moment.

More nuanced, subtle and therefore easily missed, however, are the habitual thought patterns that we entertain when experiencing discomfort.

The other day, for example, I was working on a project when suddenly I noticed a feeling of insecurity. Facing the prospect of a big presentation, my mind latched onto a rather old and tiresome thought pattern: not good enough.

Just as quickly, however, I had a new thought:

"ERMAHGERD...this well worn "not good enough" thought pattern is my updated adult version of a 'security blanket.'

As strange as that may sound, attaching myself to an old and familiar thought pattern (not good enough) brought a kind of twisted comfort to my mind; it was predictable and safe in its' predictability. Feeling uncertain and insecure earlier...I now had a sense of certainty by way of my old habitual thought pattern.

Ironic, non?

A funny thing happened, however, upon this realization; the thought pattern no longer held any power.

My updated adult version of a 'security blanket' was revealed for what it truly was; nothing more than thought brought to life by the power of my mind.

The magic lay within my mind and it was in realizing this, that I could bid farewell to my very worn but no longer needed security blanket.