My daughter went to camp for a few weeks in July and along with the list of do's and dont's was this permission: "your child may bring 1 comfort object (a lovey).". That got me thinking about the importance of comfort objects.
At my daughter's camp, children took "quiet time" which involved lying down on a cot with their comfort object. The idea of resting in a strange place could feel worrisome so a comfort object can assuage some anxiety that might surface. As adults, we also occasionally find ourselves in an unfamiliar situation, starting a new job or attending a work event. Maybe we are also dating again for the first time or signing up for a support group. In any of these new situations, a comfort object could be useful. We all need comfort objects. Regardless of our age, comfort objects serve an important purpose: they remind us of what is safe and familiar in uncertain situations. The skill of being able to generate feelings of safety can be especially important for trauma survivors who can be re-triggered at vulnerable times. Comfort objects can help with this.
But what are those comfort objects for us as adults? Perhaps like me, you have an ancient stuffed bear at home. To me, Tah is as precious as gold but I wouldn't prop him up to sit in on a training I'm facilitating! Comfort objects for adults need to be more discreet. A comfort object could be a certain piece of jewelry, a bottle of your essential oil, a family heirloom like a pocket watch or even a special notebook with one of your child's drawings in it. Books are also terrific comfort objects. I used to bring my tattered copy of Atlas Shrugged on trips that I would take, knowing I could open it at any point for inspiration or reassurance. One of my comfort objects today is often a fabulous outfit or shoes that I absolutely love.
Comfort objects don't have to have history. When I was pregnant and feeling anxious about delivering my daughter, I decided that I needed something beautiful for the hospital. Vintage styles have always been a favorite so I bought a cream-colored maternity delivery gown with red polka dots and a silky, cream sash. I loved it. I'd packed it into my hospital bag but my labor moved really quickly so I didn't wear it when I delivered my daughter. But I was wearing it when I breastfed her for the first time. Something about the gown reminded myself at a time when I was feeling as far from myself as I ever had before.
Sometimes meanness and othering is fueled by deep insecurity. Maybe something that we can do to feel less judgy and act in more inclusive ways is to dig deeper into ourselves. For some of us that could mean asking what we truly need in order to feel safe. Even if we aren't a trauma survivor (although everyone is), comfort objects are a way to reduce feelings of insecurity and overwhelm by helping us feel more in control of our own life and the outcomes we want.
Do you have a comfort object? What it is? Leave me a comment below.