How do we become so afraid of the “new,” the discovery of something we have not seen before in another person, even in ourselves. A new form of anything makes us anxious. Only constancy lets us rest. It as if we are babies clinging to our Mommy or resting in our crib. Our baby mind is operating.
We don’t leave behind what we have undergone in the first days, weeks, months of life. Those initial forces are not lost. How reacted then is how we react now, frequently without knowing it. We were shaped by events we handled well as well as those we failed. Every experience regardless of how tiny, leaves its mark.
Use a tree as your analogy and think that you are one. The past is in the present since root leads to trunk leads to branch leads to twig leads to leaf. Our earlier experience whether it warped us or left us straight is present. Not knowing our history creates a stronger impact of that shaping on the present. Twisting of a branch twists the twig twists the leaf. Awareness helps us accept how we became who we are and compensate where needed.
Sometimes the ancient experience explodes into the present. This happens when current circumstances remind us of childhood trauma due to common threads or feelings. We feel what we felt then but do not know we have returned to childhood, trunk into branch into leaf. The mind has drawn a curtain between present and past. When the past explodes into the present, it leads to hysteria and phobic retreat. The person is confused about what is going on. “.. I don’t feel like myself.” The person seeks a protective parent.
How did the baby begin to fear “strangers?” All of a sudden the baby once so friendly only wants to be picked up by Mommy or Daddy or even only Mommy. All the other people are feared. Baby trust has given way because the child now distinguishes between Mom, Dad and the “others.” People wanting to play with the baby are disappointed. If fixated on being accepted, they will condemn the child as faulty. The parents who need the good opinion of “outsiders” may fall for this as well.
If the parents do not happily allow the child to cling only to themselves, the child does not grow out of that transitory period and the suspicious part remains in the adult mind. How often does the adult allow himself to be joyously wild if his parents were excessively guarded or insufficiently protective? The parent needs to protect the child but not excessively. Falling on your knees is insignificant in the world of play. A world treated by the parent as dangerous is not forgotten.
Advertising agencies play on childish fears. They offer safety devices in a terrifying world. They give the impression that the person is about to enter the Roman Forum with hungry lions if he doesn’t buy the advertised product. Lovers play strong parent when they promise to protect their loved one in a way that features childhood incompetence. A mature person with realistic fears and abilities would find an overly protective lover, gross, intrusive, unrelated.
A person doubts the reality of a long-term friend and even fears that person will cause them harm is returning to the time when only Mommy or Daddy would do. The presence of a strange person reaching for him goes beyond his emotional limits. The adult who is suspicious of long-term friends and lovers is arrested in that childhood state with parents who did not allow him to go through the natural developmental progression until it ended.
The baby residing in the adult mind shuns “strange” experiences. As a result the adult does not develop the ability to tune in and get deeper messages. He is drawn to cliches, Believes what everyone believes, feels protected by similarity. The unknown offers no such guarantee. He is paralyzed by warnings. Could happen turns into will happen. He only follows well trodden paths. No adventure. No thrills. Safe.