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How Much Security Can You Stand?

Woman holding paper sign with prison bars drawn in front of her face

Security is comfy, isn’t’ it? It’s like being able to stay home all day in your pajamas, surrounded by your stuff, knowing what to expect from the cat, the TV, and the kitchen faucet that drips once an hour. The big, ugly outside world isn’t there to bother you, or judge you, or expect anything from you.

What would we do without a basic sense of security? Probably not much. Security allows us a reasonable expectation of safety. Without that, we’d pretty much need to spend all our time worrying and planning for disaster.

Of course, having security means sticking with what’s familiar. Safety requires predictability. If anything could happen, anything just might!

The cost of security, then, is limitation on how far (or whether) we can venture outside our comfort zones.

E.g., If I want a new career, I might have to leave my old one and take a leap of faith. If my need for security is greater than my need to be free from my old career, I might never take that leap.

How often do we really consider the cost of overvaluing security? What happens to our lives and our potential if we don’t make conscious choices about how much security and freedom to allow ourselves in any given instance?

The price of security is loss of freedom —  the freedom to explore, to make attempts at achieving our dreams, even to grow as people. All of that requires stepping away from what we know and toward the unpredictable, the unknown.

The more we need to feel secure, the more freedom we lose.

I wrote some thoughts on this tension between security and freedom, along with a checklist and some tips for bringing in more freedom to balance this yin-and-yang-like duo.

The post is here:

Stay In or Go Out? A Bigger Question Than You Might Think | Psychology Today

About Tina Gilbertson

Tina Gilbertson is a psychotherapist, speaker and author based in Denver, Colorado. She specializes in supporting parents of estranged adult children through therapy, consulting and other resources, and offers assertiveness training and executive coaching for organizations. The author of "Constructive Wallowing: How to Beat Bad Feelings by Letting Yourself Have Them" and the "Guide for Parents of Estranged Adult Children," Tina is often featured in the media as an expert on communication and relationships. Her blog on PsychologyToday.com is called "Constructive Wallowing."
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0 Responses to "How Much Security Can You Stand?"

  • at peace
    November 28, 2015 - 2:32 pm Reply

    Your article regarding freedom versus security made me very uncomfortable. I need quite a few days to process it I like my cage but had not really thought that I might be sacrificing other joys by staying in it thank you

  • Tina Gilbertson
    November 28, 2015 - 3:14 pm Reply

    Thanks for weighing in. Discomfort can be the first step on the road to freedom. Just don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater — we all need a certain amount of security in order to truly thrive.

    • at peace
      November 28, 2015 - 3:37 pm Reply

      what happens if the onlyfreedom that seems worthwhile means abandoning security completely

      • Tina Gilbertson
        November 28, 2015 - 6:17 pm Reply

        It sounds like you have something specific in mind, and the best thing might be to talk it over with someone you trust, to gain some perspective on the situation. Good luck.

        • at peace
          November 29, 2015 - 5:37 am Reply

          thanks tina I have already discussed this with someone I can trust I just wanted to hear your take!!! btw i have learned over 9 years how to handle my bullying children I had and still have a unique situation which allowed me with the h elp of my trained therapist to take back ownership of myself I was a good mum and once I internalised this and that my kids were trying either to control me or change me I have made a very good healing journey where the axis of the relationship is in my hands not theirs….. I am not yet ready ….. but the bullying has stopped

          • Tina Gilbertson
            November 29, 2015 - 4:49 pm

            No wonder you’re “at peace”! Good to hear it. Thank you for stopping by, and all the best to you and your family.

  • Peggy
    November 29, 2015 - 3:24 am Reply

    Hi Tina, thanks for this spot on wisdom. All the stuff that has gone on in the world lately has me looking over my shoulder when I’m not in my secure place…HOME. Freedom is worth taking chances for. We live in a wonderful country and I for one will continue to enjoy
    my FREEDOM to live my life as I choose. Being responsible for myself has kept me safe thus far. That’s a big part of my freedom. Thanks again for your posts.

    • Tina Gilbertson
      November 29, 2015 - 4:46 pm Reply

      Thank you for that vote for freedom, Peggy. You underlined something I didn’t explicitly mention that’s very true: Freedom often requires courage.

  • Isabel A. Spradlin
    November 29, 2015 - 4:07 pm Reply

    Wow, without having got to the linked article yet, this is AMAZING. And I think it is so true. I also like to remind myself that very often what I perceive as being safety is just that, a perception. I have recently been changing how I run my business and it has felt big and scary. But every time I have stopped myself in my fear to think about whether or not what I’m doing is actually unsafe – so far is has been perfectly safe! It’s so wild. Thank you for this post.

    • Tina Gilbertson
      November 29, 2015 - 4:21 pm Reply

      Great point, Isabel. Security is often an illusion. Example: You choose what you think is a “stable” job and end up losing it in a layoff. There are no guarantees.

      To be fair, I’m sure freedom can be an illusion sometimes, too.

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