Living a full and meaningful life requires vulnerability. You have to take chances, whether by opening yourself up to relationships or by exploring your interests and pursuing your desires. If you try to avoid all chance of being hurt, you may be directing yourself away from what you fear, but you won’t necessarily be going toward what you want.
Instead, to live a fulfilling life, you must be willing to take calculated chances. You can help yourself gain the courage to be more daring by nurturing relationships that encourage you to pursue your interests. These relationships can then function as secure bases that support you in your explorations.
It’s helpful to speak with these people (these secure bases) when you need support, but it is even more helpful to internalize their encouragement so that you can carry of sense of it within you. In other words, you will feel close to them, and supported by them, even when they are physically far away. Research has supported the idea that you can “prime” or strengthen a secure base by consciously and repeatedly accessing its comfort and encouragement.
Based on an exercise in my book, Bouncing Back from Rejection, the following exercise offers a helpful way to prime your secure base by using your phone:
Choose someone who is a secure base. Pick someone who is supportive and encourages you to explore your interests (this article can help you identify who secure bases are in your life).
Find a picture of this person on your phone. While it can be any picture, it might be more helpful to choose a picture depicting a positive experience you had together.
Save this picture in an easily accessible place on your phone. You might make it your wallpaper or save it in a favorites album. The idea is that it should be easy to find.
Set an alarm on your phone to look at this picture every day. While this exercise is based on research showing that secure base priming is helpful, there is no evidence of the best way to do it or the best frequency. I suggest that you look at this picture at least once or twice a day.
Every time the alarm goes off, “prime” this secure base. Look at the picture and do the following:
- Pause long enough to revisit a memory of them being caring, supportive, and encouraging.
- Repeat the following sentences (aloud, if possible). Repeat them slowly and with a connection to what you are saying (or thinking):
__________ genuinely cares about me and just being near them is comforting.
If I am upset, I can ask for help and they will probably be there for me. This would help me feel relieved and better able to cope.
I can rely on __________ to support and encourage me in activities that I want to pursue.
You might print out or save the sentences on your phone so that you always have them with you. And the more you repeat them in an emotionally connected way, the more effectively you can turn to this person as a secure base who will support your personal growth and development.