Let’s face it, being an adult can be demanding. It requires you to often be rational, serious, reliable, responsible, patient and kind in a world that is rarely any of those things.
So when the masks of restraint and when you’re too exhausted to really care, there are several options for oblivion.
Most of these methods of escapism are a bit self-destructive or subversive or they really mess with your health or self-esteem.
You could open up a bottle of wine. Or perhaps have an orgasm with someone you love (or someone whom you at least like), or perhaps you could throw in the towel and just run away from everything if adulting all gets too much.
Also you could feel a bit self-righteous by doing some exercise until you’re covered in an icky film of sweat and your brain releases some dopamine and you feel like a god for a few hours.
I’ve dabbled in some of these oblivion methods. But there may also be another alternative. Comfort objects.
Set the tone
Make sure your place is set up for this. Ambient music that’s atmospheric and tends to jangle and shimmey in all the right places is a good start. Mood lighting, get that going.
Have a stockpile of fluffy teddies and toys to cuddle
A study by Travelodge, purveyors of soulless hotels throughout the world, has found that 35% of British travellers take their teddy with them on business trips as a reminder of home. They found this out by trying to reunite teddies with their owners.
After guests departed they found that it wasn’t children who owned the teddies but adults. This is interesting and comforting for a number of reasons. It means that Im not alone in that strangeness. It also means that many professionals working in stressful jobs need to switch off from adulting after the day is over.
Sometimes you don’t choose soft toys, they choose you. I found my seal in a souvenir shop in the far north of Uist in the Outer Hebrides. Although he was a Hebridean seal he was hand-made in the UK which I was glad about. He still gets occasional sleepy grasps and fumbles in the middle of the night when I remember he’s there.
Winnicott’s Transitional Objects
This is further backed up by research into adult comfort objects. Psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott had a lot to say about this. He developed the idea of a Transitional Object. When we are children we feel connected to our mothers. But as we gradually get older and become independent, we’re eventually able to live successfully alone.
How do we manage this massive transition. A teddy bear can help by being a bit like the mother – a source of tenderness and sweetness and comfort.
And yet, it is really the child who gives the bear these qualities. So the bear is a lovely thing: a halfway house, a resting place between the utter dependency of the baby and the emotional independence of the adult. But we don’t ever entirely resolve this dichotomy.
We’re always in transition between somewhat a child and somewhat an adult
When we recognise that the demands of independence are getting a bit too much – when we’re tired of adulting,instead of fighting it or drowning out the world with alcohol or sex or whatever, we should just be and hang out with inanimate furry animals.
Just allow yourself to be vulnerable, childlike and to explore the feelings and thoughts of your day as they arise.
Teddies and soft plushies are given to patients with dementia, to people left traumatised after 9-11, and robot therapy seals are the next big thing in aged care. There is clearly some psychological benefit we reap from owning teddies as adults.
Hug your teddy and give yourself time to just be
That’s right. In a culture where optimising your time is an obsession and hacking your free time has become a religion, instead wrap yourself up like a eskimo, watch an uplifting film, have a hot Milo and hug your teddy. No matter what happened today…and no matter who you are…I hope that taking these actions will make you feel a little bit better.