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What does emotional safety look like for you?

Updated: Jul 13, 2023

When I first heard the phrase "emotional security", it blew my mind a little. I simultaneously realised that it is all we are ever seeking and also not something I'd ever defined for myself before.

Have you achieved something that you have yet to clarify in your mind? And how would you know if you have achieved it? This is important because if you'd asked me a few years ago, I would have defined emotional safety as always being happy or peaceful. But in striving for just good parts, I lived in denial of how life is. I ended up chasing the ways (or, more often, running away and hiding) for the majority of my life.

Most of life is not happy and peaceful. Most of my life is a complicated mix of feelings and often a lot of things simultaneously, and sometimes conflicting ones. Wishing them away meant I spent much of my life in avoidance mode. Which would be fine if it worked, but it doesn't, and it never has. No one has ever decided to work on work to be happy, and the rest of life just stopped happening. Life rolls on forward, and your desire for the frustrating bits, the sad bed, the boring bits, the confusing bits, the anxious bits and all the rest of the jigsaw to disappear does not make it so.

But what it does is make you stressed. Because each time an undesired emotion arises, ore often than not, you'll convince yourself that you're not doing Happy well enough. And all that validation, meditation, yoga, coaching, and therapy isn't working. When you tell yourself you're getting it wrong, your brain interprets that it's dangerous, and your body releases a load of hormones like adrenaline and cortisol to get you away from this happiness thing. Because whenever we try, we keep getting it wrong and getting things wrong is dangerous. So the cycle continues. It is the opposite of emotional safety.

What I now know about the brain and how it works is that the safety cameras, when we're willing to witness all the emotions life brings, and not making it mean anything about me. I can feel something without demonising it or making it a pillar or a crucifix for my identity.

For me, emotional safety is observing my emotions with intrigue and sometimes using them as barometers. When I can view my emotions as teachers, I get to ensure that they stop me from running away from my own life.


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