What’s your transitional object?

A couple of weeks ago I had Bruce Van Horn on The Old Soul Podcast (you can find that episode here).

One of the things we talked about on the episode was transitional objects. The main example we used were children and their relationships with things such as stuffed animals, blankets, and pacifiers. Bruce talked about how those objects are ways for us to express or convert our emotion through during times of transition.

As I’ve gone on for the last couple of weeks I’ve thought about it quite a bit. I’ve thought back to transitional objects in my life. There have been a few.

There was a beanie baby bear. There was a pillow. There was my thumb (which took me way too long to give up). And there was an Alladin comforter.

Now, the Alladin comforter nearly went to college with me.

After I graduated from Basic Training in the Army and came home to get ready to go to college, I began packing my bags. As I packed up my room my dad was helping me put clothes and books into a suitcase and some boxes. I folded up my Alladin comforter that had been with me for as long as I could remember. I was 18 at the time.

As I started to put the blanket into a bag my dad stopped me. “Are you really going to take that with you?” He asked.

“Well…Yeah.” I said. But then I looked at the comforter and I looked back at my dad. In that moment I knew it was time to give it up. But I didn’t want to.

It wasn’t really the comforter itself that I was attached to. It was the comfort it brought me. The memory of being nestled in my bed for as long as I could remember.

It reminded me of safety.

Going to college didn’t automatically make me think of being unsafe. But it was uncomfortable. I didn’t really know what to expect. And the comforter was supposed to give me some continuity.

It was supposed to be something consistent in a time of transition.

But objects are just objects. Why do we attach such sentimental value to objects?

Maybe it’s something a loved one gave to you.

Maybe it’s something you bought at a yardsale while you were with someone you care about.

But ultimately the object just represents some memory of a time, place, or person in your life.

So the continuity isn’t with the object. It’s with your memory.

It’s with you.

If you feel as if you’re stuck in a time and place then take a look at some of the things in your life. Some of the things you feel a special attachment too. Are they transitional objects? It’s not as if I’m asking you to burn things in your backyard, or throw all of your belongings away. But if there is something you’ve been looking at for years and wondering why you haven’t gotten rid of it, maybe it’s the thing that’s keeping you stuck.

Not just the object, but the mindset of being tied to a certain time or place.

The world changes with or without you. And people are scared of change. But in order to move forward you have to accept change. And sometimes in order to do that, to really embrace the change, you have get past transitional objects.

Getting past transitional objects doesn’t mean you have to strip the memories. In fact I want you to do the opposite. I want you to remove the object from the memories and allow them to live freely.

This might seem a bit philosophical, and it is, but when you tie memories and experiences strictly to objects, you’re not allowing yourself the freedom to enjoy those memories and experiences independently. And doing that is what will allow you to move forward and create exponentially greater memories.

So, what’s your transitional object?