This weekend we drove an eighteen year old family friend to Bristol to start his three-year degree course. He was excited to see his new room, at the prospect of meeting new friends, about his new sense of independence and is looking forward to enjoying life as a student.
We took him shopping for essentials, helped install him and his stuff into his room at his Hall of Residence, said goodbye and drove home again – thinking of how the next couple of weeks will mark a turning point in his life.
The staff at the Hall of Residence took particular care to reassure the parents (some of whom were anxious about the ability of their young ones to cope) that their charges will be fed, nurtured and kept safe during their stay.
On the way home we reflected on the whole issue of security. How safe can / should we expect our young people to be?
One certainty for all human beings is that death awaits each one of us. In this sense there can be no absolute security. We also know that we must make mistakes in order to learn. After all, we generally learn much less from our successes than we do from our mistakes. Successful business men and women know that since success is often preceded by failure, then the quickest way to become more successful is to go out and make more mistakes.
A State of Mind
Security is in reality a state of mind. What matters is to recognise those things that help you to feel safe. Since we are all different, we should not be surprised to discover that different people have very different attitudes to security. Some are happy to rely on their wits and their own abilities to survive. Others, feel the need for cash in the bank or a good career.
But our need to feel safe is not an illusion – it is an innate need of all human beings. (Which is why our in8 Cards resource pack includes an image for security – see above). Please take a moment to look at this image and consider what “security” means to you.
It is difficult to concentrate on anything else when we feel under threat. A lack of security (like the lack of any innate need) causes us to feel anxious, and this anxiety, like any strong emotion, locks the focus of our attention and changes our thinking towards an “all or nothing” mode. We now understand exactly how this mechanism underlies the condition we call Depression – and, thankfully, we have a whole armoury of effective techniques which can help alleviate the suffering that depression can bring.
So are we worried about the various pitfalls that might lie in front of our young friend? If we wanted, we could find plenty of things to worry about: the dangers of drinking too much, illicit drugs, bullying, city night life, crime and violence, loneliness, poor sleep, the pressure to overwork, the difficulty of structuring your own days …. the list goes on. The answer is NO! We chose to have an appropriate concern for the obvious dangers, but to trust that whatever life brings, there is opportunity within it. We know that our eighteen year old is capable of asking for help when he needs it, and we trust that he can stay safe while enjoying his new freedoms.
After all, worry never made anything better. When worry informs action, then it can be useful, but otherwise it is simply another strong emotion which limits our ability to think clearly.
We therefore chose to support our student friend in his new endeavours and to be there for him if he needs us, but also to anticipate that he has the skills and awareness to stay safe. We anticipate that he will make some mistakes. We hope they are not major, and that he learns from his experiences.
If you feel unsafe, struggle with anxiety or depression or would like to know more about how to change your mindset to cope better with life, please contact us to see how we can help. If you are interested in learning more about your innate needs (such as Security), why not consider attending one of our low cost, friendly and fun in8 Cards workshops which are held in Trowbridge, Wiltshire each month.