Within psychological attachment theory, the fears of intimacy and autonomy are explained. In the simplest of terms, as we were children we had needs to go and explore the world (to be autonomous) and needs to return to home base (to be intimate). If we worried too much on venturing out, the fear of autonomy was represented. If, on the other hand, we didn’t have a healthy desire to return home where we would be loved, the fear of intimacy was represented.
If we are to understand that challenging and overcoming the fears of autonomy and intimacy is a healthy response to problems of our attachment, we can create a safe base worldview, if we focus on these two simple (yet often complex) things:
- I don’t have to be liked;
But, because of my safe base,
- I have to love.
“I Don’t Have To Be Liked”
This is such an important idea in our people-pleasing generation. Imagine the freedom we could have if we didn’t fear for abandonment; if we had no fear for our autonomy—to be pleasantly ourselves in spite of what others thought or felt about us.
When we can entertain the concept that we don’t have to be liked, we can begin to conceptualise what that might look like in our thinking and behaviour.
When we don’t have to be liked, we are less likely to be blown from pillar to post—from East Shore to West Shore, within our souls, for what is going on in our worlds—and we are less likely to be stressed over unnecessary stresses and stressors. This means when other people get upset, especially as they blame us, we don’t necessarily need to become upset. Our autonomy, and sense-of-self, holds us up, and even-keeled are we. We have one half of the safe base.
If we are to develop in the relational life, and have the kinds of relationships that God wants to bless us with, we need to have an attitude that we don’t need to be liked; we don’t need others’ approval. It’s nice when we receive it, but we can survive without it.
But this is only half of the story.
It’s one thing to be safe within ourselves; we need to provide a safe base for others, too.
“I Have to Love”
This is the critical other half of the philosophy for a safe base worldview. Despite many overtures of rejection that will come our way, we are blessed never more by having the commitment to love others just as God loves us.
When we see life through the lens of grace we just have to love—as if our whole lives depended on it; because they do (1 Corinthians 14:1 [Msg]).
When we have such a passionate commitment where we have to love, we grow in grace, and the secret to forgiveness is truly ours.
A safe base worldview is the way to a life of love, peace, and joy. There are two keys. We must agree that: 1) “I don’t have to be liked”; and, 2) “I have to love.” When we can embrace these two philosophies for life we have our safe base, and life is never better.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.