Quite a few of those reading this are old enough to remember having watched the Charlie Brown television cartoons, especially during the holidays. Either we saw them when we were young or caught them later in life while half-watching with our children or grandchildren. It strikes me as funny now, but watching Linus with his blanket in tow always seemed normal to me. I don’t recall ever questioning the age appropriateness of his doing so. I suppose the fact that he was already in grade school, maybe even approaching middle school was completely lost on me.
Unlike Linus, we all grow up and find ourselves no longer in need of having to cuddle with our blankets, gnaw on our pacifiers, suck our thumbs or twirl our hair as we drift off to sleep. In time, each of us chooses to trade these early-stage “woobies” for sleeker and more acceptable versions. As adults, we are still prone to seek methods to self-assure in order to soothe the negative feelings inside of us. We pursue newer, less conspicuous preoccupations; trading old compulsions for versions 2.0 and beyond.
Evidently, some of the “woobies” that we reach for as adults are more acceptable than others. Compulsions that may lead to success in our careers, sculpting a perfect body, accumulating a long list of expensive possessions or winning the approval of our faith community might fly under the “dysfunction radar” of others. There are even times at which we unwittingly encourage others to be out of balance emotionally by virtue of what we honor and reward.
Conversely, there are more overt, detrimental and socially unacceptable fixations that lead to inevitable pain and self-contempt. The laundry list of those plaguing our world is a long one…abusing alcohol & drugs, gambling, cheating on a spouse, over-spending, over or under-eating, pornography, video games, and hoarding are just some of the more common vices.
I know that there are things in my life to which I am still inordinately attached. As committed as I am to living a balanced and focused life, I must admit that I remain broken in a variety of ways. I often struggle with worrying about what others think of me and there are days during which I am tempted to try to do too much; burdening myself and others with unrealistic expectations.
To assuage the negativity that builds inside of me as a result of my “-isms,” my fears, anxieties and what to label them, I sometimes reach for things that provide even a small dose of relief. When I find myself in cramped emotional jams, I may try to over-function in an attempt to control my physical environment. In similar circumstances, I might instead seek to retreat deep inside myself in order to protect myself from inevitable disappointment or personal responsibility. I am grateful that these “woobies”…my personal placebos are more obvious to me now than they have been in the past. As a result, I am better prepared to resist when I feel myself reaching for them out of fear or habit.
Whether or not our time-tested and trusted “woobies” are socially acceptable is not the real issue; ultimately, these are merely different sides of the same coin. We get rooted in believing that things bring us comfort and ignore how we set ourselves up for disappointment. The avoidance of pain is an intrinsic human desire; no one should be made to feel embarrassed or ashamed for wanting to find peace and comfort in this life.
We can easily let ourselves believe that SOMETHING outside of us provides a deeper sense of security. We lose sight of the fact that what we see and touch can be taken from us. It works best for me when I live in the knowledge that what I love and what I believe is self-sustaining and cannot be taken from me or cause me to stoop below my life’s purpose.
Thomas “TD” Dierker
Live like you’re dying…. cause you are!