Meeting Safety Needs
One of the most valuable life skills we can learn is how to meet
our safety needs. We are responsible for maintaining the minimum
balance in our safety accounts. When we learn to meet our own
safety needs, every area of our lives--including our
relationships--improves dramatically. Meeting our own safety
needs is relatively simple. Meeting other people's safety needs,
however, is a bit more complicated.
MEETING OUR OWN SAFETY NEEDS When we realize that we feel unsafe
or that our fight-or-flight response is active, the first thing
we must do is evaluate if we are actually in a dangerous or
threatening situation. If we feel unsafe walking through a
deserted parking lot in the middle of the night, we should
certainly honor that feeling and stay on our guard! When used
correctly, the fight-or-flight response is designed to save our
lives. We simply need to learn how to weed out the false alarms.
If we feel unsafe and there is no reasonable threat to our life
or limb, then our fight-or-flight response was activated by our
egos, and we can safely disengage it.
The most common reason that we feel unsafe is that we are
projecting our attention into the future or the past. Our power
only exists in the present; when we worry about the past or the
future, we give away our power and feel unsafe. The "Present
Moment Safety Exercise" on the following page can help to return
our awareness to the present moment, and bring the balance in
our master safety account back to its minimum level.
Often, in order to feel safe enough to even do this exercise, we
need to create some space. If we're feeling unsafe in a
discussion or an argument, we may need to simply walk away--to
take a few moments to let our tempers cool. Even though our
partner in the discussion may not pose an actual physical threat
to us, if we're experiencing boundary violations in the
discussion, we will need to reinforce our boundaries and reclaim
our space before we can address our safety needs.
PRESENT MOMENT SAFETY EXERCISE Stop whatever it is that you are
doing and take a few deep, cleansing breaths.
If possible, find somewhere to sit or lie down, and then let
yourself feel supported by the chair, floor, bed or sofa.
As you become aware of your body, and aware of your breathing,
feel your mind begin to quiet.
Gently release your attachments to any thoughts and simply
observe any activity of your mind.
Softly draw your awareness back to the present moment. The more
we worry about the past or the future, the more unsafe we feel.
The only place we have any power is in the present moment.
Experience the truth that in the present moment you are safe.
The past has already happened, and the future does not exist
yet. Remember that we create our futures through our choices.
Take a moment to feel the truth that in the present moment--in
this moment, and in every moment--you are supported, safe and
nurtured. Because you are an individualized aspect of All That
Is, your needs are automatically met.
Let your awareness rest on your breath. Let your mind quiet. And
for a few moments, simply be. Simply experience what it feels
like to be completely safe, completely supported.
You can now consider your current situation from this place of
safety, support, and power. You can evaluate your options
objectively. You are free to make the most elegant choices
available to you. You choose, knowing that your choices create
your reality. You choose to experience the truth that you are
fully supported in this moment and in the next. And these
choices create a present and a future where your needs continue
to be met easily and effortlessly.
MEETING OTHER PEOPLE'S SAFETY NEEDS Meeting other people's
safety needs is often a tricky proposition. In our intimate
relationships, it's appropriate for us to explore emotional
connections with our partners. We can look for ways to nurture
and protect our partners, and expect our partners to nurture and
protect us. It's rarely appropriate to do this in professional
or casual relationships, however. Unless we share an intimate
personal connection with someone, it's difficult to meet his or
her safety needs directly. The most we can do is to avoid making
them feel unsafe. We do this by respecting their boundaries.
Other people's boundaries are not always easy to recognize,
however. Sometimes the only way we can recognize a boundary is
by inadvertently crossing it and making our partner feel unsafe.
Often, our partners didn't even realize that they had this
particular boundary until we crossed it. Once we've become aware
of the boundary, however, we can own it. We can step back, and
take responsibility for crossing the boundary. And we can choose
to respect that boundary from this point on. We are now both
aware of this particular boundary, but more importantly, we are
both aware that the boundary will be respected. The boundary is
now stronger, and our partner is now able to feel more safe. So
how can you tell if you've crossed a boundary that not even your
partner knew existed in the first place? Body language is the
best indication that you may have stepped over a line and made
someone feel unsafe. When we feel unsafe, we adjust our bodies
to protect ourselves. We may:
--Cross our arms in front of our chests. --Lean forward and drop
our heads (breaking eye contact). --Round our shoulders
(expressing the desire to curl up into a ball to protect
ourselves). --Clench our teeth and tighten our jaw. --Stop
responding to our partner and disengage from the conversation.
--Change our tone of voice and become more defensive. --Raise
our voices. --Speak more emphatically.
If you notice any of these behaviors in your partner, you have
crossed a line and made your partner feel unsafe. And if you
notice any of these behaviors in yourself, then you're feeling
unsafe because your partner has crossed one of your boundaries.
In any event, whether you're feeling unsafe or you've made your
partner feel unsafe, what you need to create is some space to
defuse the threat.
--If it's possible and appropriate to move away from your
partner by taking a step back, or moving your chair. --Change
your body position so that you're leaning away from your
partner. --Take a few deep breaths, and return your awareness to
the present moment. --Check your voice and body language. (The
louder and more rapidly we speak, the more aggressive we
appear.) --Slow down, and shift your body into a neutral and
receptive posture. --Uncross your arms and leave the front of
your body open and unprotected. (This makes you vulnerable and
demonstrates that you are not a threat.)
If you've made someone feel unsafe through your choice of words
or subject matter, it's important that you not pursue that
particular subject. If appropriate, you can acknowledge that you
may have inadvertently become too personal, and apologize.
Remember, when we recognize and take responsibility for crossing
a boundary, we make our partners feel safe.