I like to use a house-building analogy from time to time in the different principles we discuss here from week to week. Some issues are “foundational,” meaning that they are absolutely essential for your wellbeing and happiness, some are like the different walls and rooms—things that you need as well, but that comes later, and different people will need different pieces. Finally, there are the finishing touches, things that can really enhance your life once you’ve dealt with the essentials. Today’s topic is literally the foundation on which each one of our adult lives’ rests. Without the two pillars of significance and security, any life you try to build will be sure to develop problems.
So what exactly do each of those mean? Significance is the pillar of identity and self-worth. It encompasses things like whether you feel like you matter in some way to the world and to the people around you, whether or not you measure up to others or to your own ideals, and whether you are a good or bad person. A religious person might also understand it as “whether or not you are saved.” In order for this pillar to be stable, you need to feel and believe from the bottom of your heart that you are significant. You need to have a positive identity of yourself, and you need to suspend judgment. Now, I should clarify what I mean by that. You can judge actions as good or bad—both your own and those of other people. You can make judgments about how you might need to change too. I recently made a judgment that I needed to lose some weight, for example, and that sort of thing is normal and healthy. But you can’t pass judgment on a person's value, or on whether they are ultimately a good or bad person. That sort of judgment, I believe, is for God and small children.
Security is the pillar of safety—both physical and emotional—and acceptance. You’ll notice that these two pillars depend on each other, to a degree. Things like acceptance and being significant to others depend on your relationships, which is one reason why relationships are so vital to our lives. I should also add that acceptance, in this case, means knowing that you are accepted just the way you are. If you believe that acceptance to be conditional on you changing yourself, or withholding a part of yourself, you will not feel secure. As for safety, this can be threatened emotionally if there is someone in your life who insults, berates, or manipulates you. Physical safety is more straightforward. If you’re being chased by a bear, then obviously you won’t feel safe! But you should go back to feeling safe as soon as you’ve gotten out of that situation. Rejection is a huge issue with the pillar of security, in fact, I’ve never met a person in my life who didn’t have a rejection issue!
So what makes these two pillars stable, and what causes them to crack and shake?
It starts with our upbringing. If you grow up in an atmosphere of love, unconditional acceptance, and physical and emotional security, then you’ll probably have strong pillars going into your adult life—but most of us aren’t so lucky. The problem is that we try to build our life without going back and making the foundation strong first, and then everything we build starts to crumble over time. You may even become very successful and wealthy, but chances are good you’ll be privately miserable in spite of it.
I’ve talked in the past about the two systems that you can choose between for your life. There’s the system of natural law—stimulus/response, cause, and effect, reap what you sow. This is the way the natural world works, and so it makes sense that our inner lives would work this way too. If you do good things, good things happen. If you do bad things, bad things happen. The trouble, of course, is that none of us do it right. Everyone makes mistakes and speaking for myself, what I deserve is that last thing I want!
But there is another option, which I call spiritual law. Under this law, if you do bad things, you can still have good happen for you in the long run. It’s the law of grace, and while you are still accountable for the mistakes you make, they do not need to dictate your significance or your security. Under this law, everyone is due to these basic pillars, because each person is inherently precious. As Kennedy said, we all want the best for our children. We all breathe the same air.
You may have heard it said that a child needs ten positive interactions for every one negative interaction, but the latest research shows that they’re actually getting about ten negatives to every one positive, sometimes as much as twenty to one. The result is that we are reaching adult life without making our foundation strong, and the wonderful lives we try to build soon crack and fail. This week, I encourage you to make sure you have a good foundation. You need to address the memories weakening those two key pillars and heal them. We have a number of great techniques for that here on the site such as Trilogy and Memory Engineering, many of which you can access for free. Most of all, I believe you need to start choosing the second law, the spiritual law of grace and love. If you really understand and believe in it, you’ve taken the single biggest step toward building a strong and happy life.
Have a blessed, wonderful day!