The Security Blanket
How about this blankie though?
Awwww. Cute right? Not a chance. Scary? Disgusting? Definitely NOT CUTE.
99.999% of the world would never, ever consider carrying around a blankie as an adult.
What started out as a cute, cuddly, fuzzy blankie that was so perfectly appropriate in one circumstance, over time became a rotting, fetid, disgusting thing.
This is exactly how it is with many of our own personal coping mechanisms.
I'll pick on my self to illustrate.
Growing up as a child of missionary parents, I experience EXTREMELY high mobility. I moved between Kenya and Ethiopia (boarding school vs where parents lived) 24 times over a period of 4 years and lived away from my family for a cumulative total of 3 years between ages 13-17.
I'm not whining about that at all, I wouldn't trade it for the world. It's all part of my journey and made me who I am today.
What I do want to focus on is the BLANKIE.
During those times I developed a coping mechanism that made sense for the time. It made sense to help me navigate, survive and actually thrive during those years.
The coping mechanism (my blankie) was this: avoid conflict and ensure I am liked at all costs.
For me, facing the environment and challenges it made sense. I made friends quickly. I was well liked. Having all these people caring for me, "liking" me eased the pain of being away from family. It helped me to fit in.
It became my security blanket.
Fast forward almost 20 years.
Being a husband, a father, being a leader... These things do NOT work while I'm carrying around my "security blankie" aka avoid-conflict-and-ensure-I-am-liked-at-all-costs...
NOPE. Those don't work. It may have been the primary demise of my marriage. When you're with someone but you are unable to have a straight conversation with them and instead you only tell them what you think they want to hear...so they'll "like" you... Doesn't work. Marriage over.
When you're a father and you want to be popular with your kids and be their *buddy* and be liked instead of being truthful, firm when needed and direct... Doesn't work. You see those kinds of parents all the time...
"Tyler, I'm going to start counting if you don't come over here RIGHT NOW... One, two...." UGH.
Doesn't work if you want to be a successful leader either. You cannot be obsessed with everyone liking you or your decisions. If you are a good leader you will probably be polarizing and you absolutely must NOT avoid conflict or the crucial conversations.
I'm starting to ramble so will wrap it up.
We all have a tendancy to trot out our own version of a stinking rotten blankie from time to time to cope with situations we face as adults in the way that worked when we were kids.
For fun, try asking someone who knows you very well and whom you really trust, if they think you carry around a rotten security blanket for a coping mechanism.
You may have one, you just may not see it.
If you do have one, best to leave it back in 1980 where it belongs.