When an animal is born, it is typically licked all over by the mother and is always next to the mother’s warmth. The animal is made to feel secure.
But in our culture, on the other hand, when a baby is born it is slapped on the behind, washed by a stranger, rolled up in a blanket and given to its mother to be held and fed before being put in a basinet by itself. From a baby's perspective, undoubtedly not a good experience. So from the moment of its birth, a baby finds that its needs are not met, and so the first seeds of insecurity are sown.
This pattern continues during the baby’s formative first years. For an animal mother, her babies are her first concern; nothing competes with that. Human mothers, parents, have broader concerns.
It’s not that parents don’t love their new child and shower it with attention; it’s that the needs of the baby go beyond what most parents are able to give. Whether it’s how they were raised, whether it’s the demands of work or home, or whether it’s having their own problems to worry about … it’s just the way it is.
And so when an animal is weaned and goes off on its own, it has had nothing but secure reinforcements from its mother, it knows its place in the world and everything it needs to do in order to survive. It knows the struggle of life but it knows what to do to survive and multiply. For that is what all other forms of life except human beings are about - multiply and thrive. Nature can be cruel, but an animal knows that such is life, and just like the chickens in my post, "The Wisdom of Chickens," they go on with their life undisturbed.
For humans, life's scenario is quite different. As a baby becomes a young child, proceeds through adolescence, and attains adulthood, the seed of insecurity that formed at birth grows to become a huge tumor inside each of us. Why?
By the time the ego develops around age 2 or 3, the child has a vast body of life experience, much of it negative, that becomes labeled by the mind, and the way we feel about ourselves and others is thus formed and stays pretty set throughout life. Typically, those feelings and perceptions are reinforced by our ongoing life experiences, not just in the family but in the broader society, or at least reinforced by the way our mind views them.
So the tumor of insecurity grows because it is fed by much of what we experience in life … in the home, in school, at work, and in the media. We are either told or learn that we are clearly lacking in some way. Often we experience trauma.
Or if we are praised, we know how easy it is to fall from grace, and so the successful often have even greater insecurities than the average person because they have more to lose.
All of this flows from the original trauma experienced at birth, immediately after birth, and in our formative years.
This is why spiritual practice, seeking to end our suffering and free ourselves from the control of our mind's emotions is such a challenge. The roots go very deep.