What does it mean to be safe?
Sure there is the physical sense. To be safe is to feel we will not be physically harmed. But what about the emotional, the spiritual sense of safety? Safety is a deeper idea that you may have considered. At least, it has been for me. I’ve only started addressing it with attention and clarity recently. Maybe I’m slow, but it’s in the forefront of my mind now for many reasons. First, I’m travelling – and travel is one of those states of being that somehow always makes your senses keen, your awareness open and your intuition heightened. In travelling, you are the outsider looking in, or trying to step in, and looking for a safe place, a place of comfort, within the new and ever changing environment seems to be a natural need for the traveler along their journey. I’m currently travelling alone in Mexico, in a town I’ve never been to before. I’ve noticed when I travel, I get to a point where I need a little bit of familiarity. The familiar is grounding, nurturing and brings comfort. For me, it’s little things like sitting at café enjoying a cup of coffee, or finding a park bench in the sun where I can sit and write, and watching kids and dogs run about – these are my safety zones. Once I feel safe there, I can step back outside my comfort zone, and return to experiencing the new that travelling offers.
Second, we’re in the process of re-defining our relationship with our grown son, which is an awesomely exciting adjustment, where we all learn to leave the old tried and true parent/child relationship beyond. This includes catching oneself resorting to old patterns than no longer serve us well, like some default reaction that may actually undermines what we are trying to create (a healthy, strong, respectful adult relationship). It’s working at building a new relationship with he and his partner as peers – accepting and honoring his partner as part of our tribe, as the new “we” that our son and his partner are creating, and realizing the tribe now has two primary parts – my husband and I; our son and his partner – and the whole of both parts is in fact stronger because of this natural expansion. It’s a beautiful, power process of opening and redefining and all along working towards a safe and comfortable foundation from which we all feel supported and stronger because of each other. So along this journey together, the four of us are opening up to what makes us all feel safe. It’s pretty cool. We all (all humans) have pretty much the same needs:
We want to feel safe respectfully expressing ourselves, and we want to be heard. We want to belong, and we want to be loved. This is the foundation of safety.
And third, my husband and I are in the middle of a big move – leaving a place that we were able to define as “not safe” in so far as we were not comfortable being who we are, doing what we love to do, and accepted for what we express. It was pretty bad, but… it also was a great lesson for learning what is NOT safe, how NOT to be, what NOT to do, and how NOT to live.
Ah, but change can be so challenging, as we all know! Leaving behind our definition, titles, positions, our knowns and givens. The state of not knowing, like moving, and like travelling, is a time of unrest for the spirit, and of feeling unsafe. Stepping into such a state both willingly and by choice may seem crazy at times (like now!) but it may be just the ticket to bringing us to a safer place in the long run. You know, it’s the old “leap and the net appears…” We know that leap is not safe. It’s nuts. But when the net appears (and chances are, it will) we may find ourselves feeling more supported than we ever have before.
So in this time of change and reflection, we learn what is safe for us – what to strive for in our relationships, what we seek out in travel, and what we are looking for in our new home.
This is what we have been able to define as “safe” so far.
We are safe emotionally and spiritually if we can each be and express our authentic self.
We are safe when we feel we belong, even in passing; that we fit in, we are accepted, and we are liked, if not loved. We all need those things, and those things contribute to our sense of safety.
Safety is being comfortable – physically, emotionally, spiritually (and for this, let’s use the definition of spirituality as the essence and expression of one’s spirit). We all have different comfort levels. Different needs, different definitions, different foundations, different things that allow us comfort. For example, I might be at home in the wilds with lions and bears, but drop me in the middle of a city, and I may feel completely lost. For others, those lions and bears may be their personal hell. This is where knowing yourself so sincerely (your ever changing self, I might add) becomes so essential. We’ll get into all that stuff soon.
Safety is having your needs met, or knowing they can be fulfilled. (Again understanding we all have unique needs.) It’s about knowing you can do what needs to be done and work towards fulfilling your needs, even if that means reaching out and asking for help. It is not a state of depletion or deprivation or oppression. It is nurturing and nourishing.
Safety is that feeling of being able to express yourself, without judgment, criticism or belittling.
Safety is that feeling that it’s okay to be you.
What does safety feel like for you? And tell me, do you feel safe being your authentic self? Do you feel safe being true?