As a child, Ben sucked on a pacifier whenever he had the chance. Ben also had three additional pacifiers with him at all times. The initial one was stuck in his mouth so he’d fit in with the other toddlers at the play dates he was ‘encouraged’ to attend.
The other three were all style.
One for each hand to let everyone around him know that he’s prepared for any sort of pacifier related emergency, and the third planted firmly between his upper lip and nose to let them know he was ready to party.
Unless we have children or work with children, we don’t spend much time, if any, considering the significance of pacifiers in our lives.
I’m not talking about a typical pacifier, the one made of eco friendly plastic and rubber, I’m talking about the things in our lives that we use in place of pacifiers. The distractions from the uncomfortable situations in our day to day existence that we run to when we can’t face reality.
The device you’re reading this post on can be a pacifier. Our phones quickly become something we turn to in times of discomfort.
In moderation, pacifiers are useful. I’m no baby scientist so I’m not sure if that’s accurate for actual babies using real pacifiers.
Understanding pacifiers as distractions from the uncomfortable gives us permission to utilize them, for a while. They are not long term solutions. They are meant as a period of relief when things are tougher than we can handle.
Babies turn to pacifiers to ease the pain when they are feeling uncomfortable, which is good. No one enjoys hearing a baby cry. Are we addressing the root issue of why a baby is crying when we shove a pacifier in their mouth though? Or are we simply “addressing the situation” without solving the problem?
When turning to pacifiers becomes impulsive, they turn into addictions. We develop a dependency on the exact thing that was supposed to provide relief, which is bad. We cover up a problem with a “solution” which may be more socially acceptable.
Examining phones reveals a device created to enable the greatest amount of connection this culture has ever seen, which has counterintuitively created a sense of separation without parallel.
Rather than risk the difficulties of interacting face to face, we settle for thumb to screen. Rather than having meaningful conversations, we settle for hearts on posted pictures displaying cropped versions of our lives.
How can we wean ourselves off our pacifiers?
We can set boundaries. Don’t allow phones in our bedrooms, keep phones on silent and in our pockets during meals. Limit or shut off notifications. Leave phones at home when we go for walks. Insert whatever works best for you. If we step away from habitually checking our phones every time there’s a moment of silence, we may be able to address why we feel uncomfortable whenever our minds are still. If we address that issue then we have a greater chance of dealing with it well emotionally and spiritually.
What’s your pacifier? How are you working to address the deeper issue? Share your stories with Ben and I as we try to rid our lives of pacifiers. After all, we’re meant to graduate from pacifiers as we mature.