Bob Livingstone is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCS 11087) in private practice for 22 years in San Francisco, California. He holds a Masters Degree ...Read More
Many of us have that anxious feeling running through our bodies on a regular basis. That feeling comes in a variety of states; from intense five alarm bells loudly ringing to fear running in the background of our thoughts. When this happens, folks can withdraw socially, rely on substances or get caught up in drama to escape this feeling of impending doom.
We walk through life fearful of looking at what causes this overwhelming worry. We believe that we are just anxious because one or both of our parents is a worrier. We accept as true that we are in fear because we have been traumatized at one or more points in our lives. We think there is no relief for this state, so we do our best to grind it out and survive. We also have the mindset that actually facing this agony will create more pain making it more difficult to survive.
In reality, we don’t feel safe much of the time and that lack of safety is the major trigger for all the fear that washes through us. Many of us have no real concept of what being safe means.
Many of us have not received reassurance from our parents that no matter how horrible your life was going, you would eventually not just be ok, but thrive. That sense of hope and faith was never instilled.
When I look at how lovingly my friends/neighbors look at their children as they hold them, I realize that my parents never gazed into my eyes in such a passionate way. I imagine feeling loved that fiercely provides a child with warmth, self-confidence and security.
Feeling wanted leads to feeling safe. Being safe is the absence of beating yourself up or feeling that all that is good in your life is a moment away from vanishing forever.
Feeling safe is not having that soon to be falling off a cliff feeling and not worried about being criticized by those surrounding you. It is the ability to find the safe space inside yourself that was pushed away when you were a child. That safe space is naturally there when we are born, but we learn to lose our path to this place through the abuse and neglect of adults who are supposed to care for us.
Feeling safe means being self-assured and ditching the self-doubt. It means waking up in the morning and deeply knowing that you deserve to live in a safe space and have the happiness that it brings.
Feeling safe is the ultimate goal of psychotherapy or any other means of self-exploration.
Steps to Feeling Safe:
- The very first step is to recognize that safety does indeed exist and that you are deserving of it.
- Think about the moments when you have felt safe and write about them. When you are feeling frightened, turn to your journal and focus on it. For example, if you remember feeling relaxed and warm laying on the beach, bring up a memory of that and allow it to flow into your fears.
- Be aware that we all have different parts of us inside. Some parts may be identified as children, punitive adults, loving women, caring men and those that carry wisdom. These parts become fragmented and don’t connect when you are not feeling safe. When you are feeling scared, look inside and find which part is being triggered. Once you find your place of wisdom and caring parts; have them communicate reassuring, loving messages.
- It is important to get enough sleep, eat well, exercise regularly and hang out with those who really have your best interest at heart.
- Terminate relationships with those who belittle you and are not trustworthy.
- Discover what unconditional love really means and apply it to yourself-accepting that you are not perfect and that is OK.
- Seek out psychotherapy to help face, work through and heal from not feeling safe. EMDR(Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) and Sandtray Therapy are two modalities that can help you learn to feel safe.