People want freedom yet people also seek security, because we don’t like uncertainty and danger. The inverse relationship between comfort/security and freedom/danger is an almost endlessly complex one, yet it is one of the most driving forces in our day to day lives.
The need for freedom pulls us to explore the new. The need for security focuses us on safety and the familiar. When we only focus on security it leaves us with psychological stagnation. By contrast an over-dependence on freedom can often can leave us with loneliness and life filled with the fear of isolation, disconnection, abandonment and loneliness.
A combination of our early attachments with our caregivers, family culture, temperament and the socio-political culture around us does a lot to shape our values/needs around freedom and security. What’s happening currently in our lives can have an impact too – if I’m experiencing a lot of chaos or uncertainty (job loss, illness, eviction, starting a business), I might feel drawn toward clamping down and tightening things up so I can feel safer. On the other hand, if my life feels too routine, rule driven, or restrictive in some other way, I might find myself seeking more freedom or rebelling.
The process of developing freedom starts with having a “secure base.”
The secure base isn’t a physical object. It is composed of those people in our lives who are consistently available and responsive to us during times of need and who support us in pursuing our personally meaningful goals.
Healthy dependency and learning to rely on others in adulthood is a positive thing.
Freedom is scary. Imagine waking up tomorrow, getting fired from your job, losing all of your family and friends, and losing your house and car. Many would just give up on life in despair, it is just TOO much change to adapt to. We can’t adjust to losing everything in life that we cling to for comfort, it’s like getting hurled into the ocean with no life raft or flotation device: it is truly terrifying.
But think for a second of the liberation you would feel if all of your commitments were gone, you were suddenly cleared of all debt, you had unlimited money, good health, and all of promises and vows you ever made were absolved, and you could do anything you wanted.
Research shows that people who score higher in hope and seek freedom have better mental-health(lower depression, anxiety, and greater happiness and psychological well-being) and physical-health outcomes. They also achieve at higher levels in school, sports, and work. It only makes sense, then, that we should all be in the business of instilling hope and the bravery to seek freedom in ourselves and in each other.
Boundaries are a funny thing. Most couples I speak to either don’t have any at all, or their sense of boundaries is so limited that it’s stifling. I think most humans intuitively resist boundaries. We’re wired to explore and imagine and experience. We value freedom. In a marriage—especially a new one—it’s easy to feel suffocated and trapped when establishing boundaries. But healthy, agreed-upon boundaries are critical for a relationship.
Finding a balance between comfort/security and freedom.
Your happiness lies somewhere along the line where security and freedom meet. Some people are more self reliant, self confident, and have higher self esteem, these people have more energy and confidence to face adversity, uncertainty, and danger without fear. Other people with lower self esteem and self belief can’t imagine doing something “risky”, uncertain, or “dangerous”.
Some people are much better at appreciating what they have and are more content to keep the grass on their side of the fence rather than try to climb over to the other side. You have to be realistic, how good is what you have, could it be better?
Most successful and happy people: innovators, leaders, and artists thrive on feeling free; they will trade their comfort for liberty so that they have more freedom to pursue their passions. They look at the world of uncertainty and ambiguity and see intriguing opportunities and chances for personal growth. They look to wide open opportunities and are inspired by the freedom, they see possibilities rather than risks.
Unsuccessful and sad people are usually people who work jobs they hate, don’t fulfill their true potential, don’t follow their hearts and dreams, and are too afraid of ambiguity to take a chance. These people make up the vast majority of society, it doesn’t make you a bad person to be afraid to live up to your fullest potential, but it does rob you of true happiness, it does rob you of your freedom, and it does limit your ability to make a successful life.
Comfort seeking people can be very wealthy, they can be healthy, they can have great relationships, but the more we cling to comfort, the more we limit our true potential. It is pretty safe to say that the more you cling to comfort, the less success you will have in life. Success is measured in happiness and in living the kind of life you truly want to live.
Increase your belief, increase your confidence and self esteem, and then you will better face freedom with bravery. The bravery to do dangerous and scary things develops over time, it comes from repeatedly doing the things that challenge and scare you and coming out victorious. It comes from failing over and over again and realizing that failure is just some bullshit that your mind made up to stop you from doing something uncomfortable.
What would really make you happy right now this very instant?
Happiness is the freedom to pursue whatever is in your heart right now, it is being able to BE the person you want to be, it is being able to accomplish whatever it is you want right now, and the only way to do that is to create a life of freedom, or to simply appreciate what you have.
If you really want to be happy, you need to follow your heart. You know it is there, some overwhelming urge to do that thing you have always wanted to do, and every excuse why you haven’t done it yet is just a bunch of crap: you haven’t done it yet because you are afraid of what might happen, so you chose the security of comfort instead of pushing through the fear to get something greater.
Your life is the result of what you have accepted, it is a story that you have written.
When you had the choice to take that unpaid internship at the job of your dreams, or taking the high paying job right out of school, you took the high paying job. When you had the choice to marry someone who was “good enough”, instead of risking being alone forever to find the right person for you, you chose the comfort of a sure thing. When you could have leapt up, you sat down, when you could have flown, you clung to the ground. Difficult things happen to everyone, they happen to me, they happen to you, and there are certainly people in third world countries- starving to death- that would give ANYTHING to live the kind of life that we complain about. But one thing still remains… we all have the desire for more.
Your life is the result of what you have chosen and how you have chosen to react to the things you didn’t choose. So next time, choose the road less travelled, choose uncertainty and fear, choose to really live instead of just to be alive. This is the battle of freedom and security that wages on inside of everyone of us.
Photo by Vincent_AF