redefining security

I met a nurse who had recently moved to San Francisco. I asked where she worked, and she said that she was still looking. There were few nursing jobs available.

This got me to thinking about “security.”

Ten years ago, I remember hearing a lot about the “nursing shortage.” Efforts were made to entice people into the profession. Now, apparently, there’s such a glut of nurses that getting a job is competitive, and you’re likely to be relegated to nothing but night shifts for at least the first year, until you move up in the ranks and have more seniority in choosing your schedule (at which point, another nurse comes in for a year of sleepless nights).

The real estate market used to be the bastion of job security–after all, everyone needs a house. No one foresaw the bubble of predatory lending and easy credit bursting (except, I guess, a friend of mine who religiously reads The Economist and who told me that it was going to happen about two years before it did).

Getting a tenure-track job at a college with union benefits is typically seen as the type of air-tight job that you can count on until you’re ready to retire. Of course, everyone forgets that if the college goes bankrupt or loses its accreditation and is taken over by the state, which is happening to a number of California community colleges right now, that all bets are off.

It happens in relationships, too–if you find the right person, work at your marriage, go to couples therapy, and religiously observe date nights, the relationship will hold together…right? Nope. People leave for any number of reasons (including unexpected and sudden death).

It happens with our health. I’ve heard of vegan Ironman triathletes who get breast cancer. Yoga devotees who are the calmest, most relaxed (and, of course, bendy) people you know–and they have a stroke.

Clinging to Security

It’s easy to fall into the trap of clinging to security. It’s what we’re fed: if you just follow the right steps, you’ll get the results you want. It feeds a culture of shame and blame (those people over there? The ones who must be *so* different than you or me because they struggle with addiction, or they’re homeless, or their marriages broke up? They must not have done the “right things”).

But what happens when you do all of the right things, and then there’s *still* the health crisis, the financial crisis, the natural disaster, the marriage that crumbles under the weight of a thousand invisible cracks?

What skills do you have, then, when you’ve spent a lifetime clinging to security?

At the basis of my work, especially with The Courageous Living Program, is this: I want people to learn how to totally trust themselves. That’s where someone arises on the other side of fear, when they’re consistently practicing courage.

I want people to experience life wholeheartedly, living 100% fully alive, and that includes understanding that hey–no bullshit, here–there are going to be challenges.

When those challenges arise, it’s my hope that people totally trust themselves and their capability to handle what arises. Having that sort of capacity is a skill-set that anyone can learn, develop, and master. It’s gorgeous to see it in action.

Of course, you can’t even start…unless and until you release that clinging grip.

But…What’s Next?

Often, we hesitate to release the grip because we don’t know what’s next. “The devil you do know is better than the one you don’t,” is how the saying goes.

Here’s the thing: no one *ever* knows what’s next.

Roger that? NO ONE EVER knows for sure, what’s coming. This means that all of the clinging, attached, stressed-out planning to try to orchestrate everything to go the right way in order to have security? Pointless.

It’s not that security is “bad.” I like feeling secure, and I prepare for a foreseeable future.

It’s moreso that it just doesn’t work to place our sense of security in the stuff “out there.” The jobs? The relationship? Glowing, vibrant health? If those things form the basis of your “security,” then as soon as they shift or change (which is inevitable) then the structure you’ve built a foundation on is going to be exposed as sand.

We’re stronger and more powerful when we redefine security as being secure in ourselves.

Secure in being the wellspring of our own happiness.
Secure in our capacity to make, and recover from, mistakes.
Secure in releasing attachments to what others do or think of us.
Secure in choosing what feels right.
Secure in creating relationships and communities–creating love.

Question what you call “security.” Your house? Your job? Your identity as a mother, a provider, so-and-so’s lover, a CEO?

Be grateful for all of it–treasure it! celebrate it!–while keeping the focus on the kind of security that only you can create: the security of completely trusting yourself.