In infancy, the feeling of being safe and nourished – not just with food but with love and care – comes from the instant availability of mommy and her breast.
As a child grows, he learns to transfer this feeling of safety onto additional objects – a toy, a favorite blanket, etc – that he drags everywhere. This allows him to spend more time not being clamped to mommy’s body and still feeling safe.
Gradually, the child learns to achieve the feeling of being safe and nourished without either mommy or the transitional object (the toy or the blankie). The source of the feelings of safety and love moves inside. This is a gigantically important moment in human development when a child learns to self-soothe. It’s a foundation of human freedom and agency. “I still need mommy but if necessary, I can take care of myself” is how an independent, healthy human is formed. Adulthood comes when you figure out that you don’t need mommy. And maturity is when you realize that mommy needs you now and it’s not a terrifying thought.
So what does this all mean? It means nobody can make you feel safe or valuable. These feelings can only come from inside of you. If you still seek safety from a transitional object (for many people it’s food), this means you are still stuck in that toddler stage where you were supposed to start learning to self-soothe without an external object. If you still need big, all-knowing, all-powerful and ever-loving adults to “keep you safe,” things are even worse. You are stuck in the infant stage, still terrified that mommy’s breast is not coming and eternally angry that it can no longer feed your adult needs.
We don’t breast-feed 15-year-olds, do we? Neither do we say “here, hold your plushie” to 20-year-olds without mental deficiencies. We don’t do it because it doesn’t work. They are past the age where the breast and the plushie can nourish physically or emotionally. An adult is capable of making himself a sandwich and we expect him to do that. Similarly, he can make himself feel safe. We can’t make a safe space for adults because that space can only be located inside themselves.