Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Source of Safety

In Safety Matters!, you determined the critical importance of safety in your current relationships, and identified those qualities and behaviors you want in order to feel safe in your future interpersonal experiences.

Your list of desired qualities and behaviors may include: being present, asking questions, effective listening, expression of feelings, consideration, genuineness, empathy, consistency, humor, making and keeping agreements, and more. Such factors reduce the possibility of harm and enhance well-being in your relationships.

In addition to the interpersonal sphere, you might also consider those environmental conditions that support your safety.

Reflect for a moment on the quality and quantity of light, space, sounds, air, temperature, colors, smells, textures, "traffic" flow, and other features in various places you encounter. How do these characteristics affect your sense of safety?

As you can see, all these factors can dramatically influence your happiness and healthy functioning at home, in your workplace, at the gym, in a restaurant, or in any other setting.

Therefore, when interpersonal and environmental conditions favorably interact, you will experience qualities of safety that powerfully encourage your growth in love and belongingness (e.g., teamwork, family harmony).

However, as you know, relationships and the environment do not always nurture your safety.

You might find yourself in that situation with people (e.g., family, co-workers) with whom you need to interact at certain times. Or, you might be in an environment (e.g., housing situation, worksite) that you are not easily able to leave.

What do you do when interpersonal or environmental characteristics are not conducive to your safety?

Here are some suggestions for dealing with these "unsafe" circumstances:
  • Do not ignore, deny, or compromise your safety needs.
  • Perceive (witness) the other person or the environment with as little interpretation and judgment as possible.
  • Acknowledge what's happening and how you feel in your body.
  • Let go of expectations that things will change. Whether they do or don't, you still have yourself.
  • Don't look for approval, appreciation, acceptance, or "visibility" from people who act in unsafe, casual, or unconscious ways.
  • Consider what you want to do. Realize that you are competent and can rely on your own skills, resources, talents, and strengths. You can also ask for help.
  • Express what you want with kindness, as you wish, and explore changes that might be made in the relationship or environment.
  • Take specific, relevant action.
By focusing on these practices in your communication and behaviors, you will gradually notice a life-changing shift. Although you will be aware of the effects of varying degrees of interpersonal and environmental safety, these influences will not determine your response. Instead of habitual or fear-driven reactions, you will make conscious choices about how you want to express yourself and engage with safe and unsafe people and contexts.

Your free choices cultivate a relationship with a deeper core of safety within you.

This inner safety allows for wholehearted experiences of love, intimacy, and community, and the development of self-reliance and interdependence. You are grounded in your body, you begin to trust yourself, you know whom to ask for support, and you feel capable of handling whatever happens.

As you expand in safety, you will embody increased self-esteem, connect meaningfully with your HeartVoice, and become creative and playful in your expression. In this way, your own inner safety nurtures all the building blocks for your joyful living.

May your essential safety within open the way to freedom!

Love and Peace,
Dave

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