This week I want to share some thoughts on creating emotional safety, which is essential for our growth and healing. It’s what allows us to choose discomfort over comfort. The saying by John Shedd, “ships are safe in harbor but that is not what ships are built for,” hold true. We were built for the open ocean, but need to have a sense that our vessel can handle it before venturing out.
The first premise to the importance of emotional safety is that healing requires seeing truth, which is essential to freedom, and an essential aspect of truth is knowing our true selves. Our truth.
When we know all of ourselves, and not just the parts that are socially acceptable or readily available to our consciousness, it allows us to integrate the various parts of us and experience wholeness.
While healing requires seeing our truth, it’s often obscured because it became unsafe for us to experience it at some point. Perhaps we were shut down, ignored, abused, or threatened into not expressing or feeling our truth. This often happens at a younger age, but not always.
It’s one of the reasons therapy can take so long – we don’t want to go there. It can be why we don’t want to get coached or do the deeper work, because even though we know something is there, we don’t feel ready or willing to go there. It doesn’t feel safe enough. And that’s valid.
This is why MDMA can be so effective as a therapy adjunct. It helps the person experience truth without reliving the fear and terror.
Psilocybin, ayahuasca, and classical other psychedelics help to part the veil that has been slammed shut.
But none of those tools are effective – or smart to use – without a sense of emotional safety at the onset (and this is supported by the research).
Normally when we think about the things we assess for emotional safety, they’re external: a safe, compassionate, empathetic therapist or coach and the sense of safety where we physically are. But we often forget our internal environment of safety.
A huge part of creating emotional safety for ourselves is self-compassion. This allows us to be willing – and able – to be vulnerable and know our true selves.
These are two essential ingredients for optimal healing: we need both compassion and vulnerability.
Think about lobsters and other crustaceans: they have to shed their shell when it gets to small. Until their new shell grows, they’re vulnerable. Literally open to predators and illness without protection. But if they didn’t shed their shell, they’d die. Similarly, while shedding our emotional armor has us feeling vulnerable, it is required for healing and growth – and healthy relationships.
It makes sense why we repress emotions. If at some point in our lives it felt catastrophic to feel and express that part of ourselves, we didn’t. To stay safe. And often, it worked.
So then, how do we create the context to actually be vulnerable? That’s where compassion steps in. High levels of compassion and high levels of vulnerability are conducive to healing. When we have variations from that, we see some different challenges arise.
For example, if we have low vulnerability and low compassion, there isn’t growth because that armor is not coming off. There’s no opening, and therefore no knowing of the truth. And to be honest, it’s probably wise, because if we are in an unsafe container, it isn’t a great idea.
Another scenario is if we have high vulnerability but low compassion (either low external or internal compassion). In that case we have the potential for retraumatization. Many of us have been there – sharing vulnerable parts of ourselves with others who are not safe – or before we are ready to love all of ourselves.
The third scenario is high compassion and low vulnerability. Often, what I’ve seen here is low self-compassion is at play. So, even though we may have a safe and compassionate container with others, if we don’t trust ourselves to be compassionate towards all parts of us, we can’t be vulnerable.
Creating this optimal environment for healing is a top priority for me in spaces like the Adventure Mastermind, because the container of safety is required for vulnerability and healing. Without that, the womyn who join me wouldn’t take the emotional risks needed to deep dive into their growth.
If you’re feeling stuck or finding yourself not taking action; if you’re not sure what’s holding you back, an important question to ask is, “How safe are you feeling?” And then, where do you find safety? What helps you feel safe? The people, the environment? For me, one of the safest places is nature. For some it may be their pets – they have such capacity for unconditional love. And some of us are lucky enough to have humans we can deepy trust.
Safety is something we can cultivate in how we live, who we choose to have in our lives, and what we want to believe and feel. We can intentionally create that sense of safety with what we can control – our self-compassion and the community with whom we choose to share our hearts.
In this Episode you will learn:
// The importance of truth in healing
// How psychedelics can help us heal
// Why an internal environment of safety is as crucial as an external environment of safety
// The two main ingredients for optimal healing
// What happens when vulnerability and compassion aren’t properly aligned
// Episode 18: How to Coach Yourself
// Episode 51: Self-Compassion
// Episode 73: How to Be Your Own Guru
// Self-compassion.org by Kristen Neff
// Early registration is open for the next cohort of the Adventure Mastermind at AdventureMastermind.com . Enter into the adventure of your life in a container where you’ll feel safe enough to explore during this one precious life we have.
// If you’re new to the squad, grab the Rebel Buddhist Toolkit I created at RebelBuddhist.com. It has all you need to start creating a life of more freedom, adventure, and purpose. You’ll also get access to the Rebel Buddhist FB group, and tune in weekly when I go live on new topics.
// Want to dive into this work on a deeper level on your own time? To study it and practice it together with a group of people with the same goals of freedom, adventure and purpose? Check out Freedom School – the community for ALL things related to freedom, inside and out.