I want to write about safety today because this is such an important ingredient to our quality of life. I will specifically address emotional safety.
Let’s start by identifying some of the feelings that may be present when we have a sense of safety within a relationship. In general, we may experience some of the following feelings:
- We feel comfortable being who we are
- We feel our thoughts, emotions, & opinions are valued
- We feel accepted and loved
- We feel that we are not being judged
- We feel that we are able to be completely honest
In other words, we feel that our whole selves are accepted, valued, and respected by another. This creates a sense of safety within us in this relationship. In order for us to feel emotionally safe with someone we first have to develop trust. Trust and safety go hand-in-and are the foundation of healthy relationships.
In order to develop trust we can engage in the following process:
- Communicate our boundaries: Express to the other person our needs and expectations within the relationship. Dialogue with the person about his/her ability and desire to meet our safety needs.
- Take small steps: Allow the relationship to develop over time and practice trust at a level appropriate to the stage of relationship. In other words, we allow ourselves to risk sharing more as we have more experiences in which the other person demonstrates his/her ability to meet our safety needs.
- Assess how we feel within the relationship: We check-in with ourselves about how we feel within the relationship. Have we noticed increased comfort in being more fully ourselves? Do we feel that our thoughts and emotions are being valued? Do we recognize the signs of emotional safety developing?
- Repeat steps 1-3: As the relationship grows, we may become aware of other important boundaries that need to be communicated. We continue to take small steps. To develop safety within relationship is a process that takes place over time and experience. We should consistently check-in and assess our level of comfort within ourselves inside of the relationship.
I want to encourage you to think about your level of emotional safety within your current relationships. Is it present? If not, what steps can you take to begin the process of establishing safety? If it is, how can safety continue to be maintained?
“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” – Maya Angelou