Monday, 13 February 2012

Like a Babe in its Mother's Arms

Part 1/3 (to see other parts of the article, click on the pages at the bottom)

by Shlachter, Reb Shraga (See all authors)

A newborn baby is completely dependent on his mother, and from her side, the mother is completely devoted to it, fulfilling all its physical and emotional needs. Through the complete lack of control that the baby feels, it learns to trust its mother. And through her, it feels secure and protected.

The ability and desire of the mother to fulfill her baby's every need with complete devotion, day and night, hot or cold, to no end, without ever feeling "used" even for a moment, comes from the complete control that the mother has over her helpless baby child that was just born. It is completely dependent on her; without her, it can't survive even for a moment. This feeling of complete control; as if the baby was literally a part of her; causes the mother to feel secure and protected. Through caring for it, she is like caring for herself.

It is clear from this, that feelings of trust and protection are an existential inborn need that is cultivated in one of the following ways: (1) Either through total trust and complete dependence on someone else (as in the case of the baby) or, (2) where trust is missing, it is possible to feel secure and protected through control (as in the case of the mother).

The honeymoon between the baby and its mother does not last long though, and as time passes, the baby develops and begins to find its own way around. Over time, it finds physical independence and is no longer completely dependent on its mother like it was in the past. Paradoxically, this physical development directly influences its emotional trust, and for the first time in its life, the baby, who has meanwhile turned into a child, is driven to use 'control' to return the same feelings of trust and protection - as fast as possible - that he/she lost. Children do this by looking for recognition from others, and by constantly testing the boundaries of the world around them.

Parents who are aware of the physical and emotional stages of development that their children undergo, and who interpret correctly their attempts to take control - which are in order to fill what's missing in their feeling of security, will allow their children the protected 'space' required for their emotional self-development. By doing this, they are greatly helping their children learn to trust them - and to trust in themselves as well. This will automatically reduce to a minimum, their child's dependence on control in order to feel secure and protected.

In contrast, parents who find it difficult to reduce their control and disconnect their own feelings for the benefit of their children, will find that the more their children develop their own emotional independence, the more they will feel their own feelings of control and security coming into question. This will translate into attempts to control the natural processes that their children are undergoing, through futile attempts to squash the development of their emotional independence. But not only will they not succeed, they will also cause irreversible damage to their children's trust in them - and in their own selves, and this will only strengthen their children's dependence on 'control' to retain/regain feelings of security and protection.

What we see from all this is that trust leads to trust, and control leads to more control. It is impossible to fight control with control. The only way to let go of the need to control is by strengthening trust. And the way to build trust is through letting go of control. Nature abhors a vacuum. When there is a lack of either trust or of control, the other will quickly come and fill its place. This is because a person cannot exist without the feeling of security and protection, not even for a moment.

In the relationship between parents and their children, husbands and wives, friends, or in social interactions of any type, and much more so in people's own relationships with themselves - especially someone with a compulsive nature, or who suffers from anxiety, or who suffers from an addiction (all of which stem from the lack of trust they have in themselves and in the world around them); in order to feel secure and protected, they are driven to frequently use control. However, paradoxically, the very fact that they are completely dependant on control is likely to remove the feeling of security that the control gives them, and this causes them to feel exposed, hurt, and without a feeling of security and protection. Then, in order to return the feeling of security to themselves as fast as they can, they will use the only way that they know and will wage an all-out in a battle of 'control' through futile attempts to regain control over their control, and this will only strengthen the need for more control! Is there any way out of this vicious cycle?

In light of what we have explained on trust and control and on the direct relationship between them, the answer to this question is clear as day. Precisely now, when they feel unprotected and completely powerless, and when they recognize that even control does not help them to feel secure and protected, herein lies the golden opportunity for them to embark on a new path. All they have to do is to stop trying to fight to control their control - which will anyway be futile, and instead, simply admit defeat and completely surrender. The very surrender and powerlessness that they feel will suddenly remove the bonds of control all at once, and in place of the control will naturally enter a strong feeling of 'trust'. This trust will fill them with a feeling of security and protection - as strong as that of a babe in its mother's arms.