The term safe space generally means “a place or environment in which a person or category of people can feel confident that they will not be exposed to discrimination, criticism, harassment or any other emotional or physical harm.” (Oxford Dictionary)
In an often intolerant world, having a safe space to go to is incredibly important for maintaining good mental health. A safe space is a place—physical or virtual—you can go to relax and recharge. A judgment-free zone where you can let your guard down and truly be yourself.
Over these past few months a lesson God has been trying to teach me is how to find or carve out a safe place in a chaotic world. To be honest I did not think this would be a hard task. I was wrong. It has seemed just as I think I have accomplished my mission and get my footing something/someone will trip me up. Some of my friends swear by venting to a trusted source when you feel overwhelmed. Some say create a social media support group. I have also been told to seek therapy (which I have done and am a firm believer in.) I tried venting to a couple of trusted friends. Although it made me feel a bit better at the time, it did not help me in the long run.
When I went to others to “vent” they seemed taken back and some what disturbed by my thoughts. Please know that they were kind and supportive. My trusted circle kept repeating how they had never seen me this way. I was not distraught or anything, so that reaction confused me. Then it hit me... In the past my way of letting them in was expressing a brief over view if an issue or problem. I would say a situation was difficult, when in fact it was toxic and life altering. When I was describing the issue I never meant to down play anything. I realized that I have been programmed to take care of myself and problems that arise. It is not my first instinct to run to others.
Along my journey of finding a safe place I realized it was about a balance. A balance between having those trusted confidants to go to and being your own safe place. It is about knowing when to look within ourselves for help and when you need to reach out. I have learned that our safe place starts and ends with us. Feeling safe starts from within. We must know who and what we are in order to know what is truly meant for us.
So I had to ask myself some difficult questions. Do I feel like I am safe within myself? Do I feel like I help myself to feel safe to be, to think, to feel, and to do whatever feels real and genuine for me? Or am I my own harshest critic and judge?
How can I be my own safe place?
Below are some tips on how to create a few such "safe spaces" for yourself in different areas of your life.
- Visit a Traditional Support Group.
- Start paying attention to your self-talk.
- Replace negative self-talk with kindness
- Be empathetic to yourself. Remember you too are an imperfect person.
- Go for daily hikes/ walks outside.
- Take time out to meditate and journal.
- Make Your Home a Stress-Free Sanctuary.
- Do nice things for yourself.
- Above everything...protect your peace at all costs.
During my time of reflection I realized we all need at least one trusted person to confide in from time to time. Someone that truly sees us and knows our heart. Someone that you can go to and not fear judgement or persecution. This helps us to create and be our own safe environment, but what does this person look like? That is when I started to list some characteristics of a safe person that we must look for in others as well as ourselves.
- The ability to listen to and receive truth.
- Acts on need, not just hears.
- Grows and works towards personal improvement
Over time you will find yourself feeling more secure and safe within yourself. If an unkind thought comes up, it won’t feel “good” anymore. You’ll see it for what it is and stop yourself from spiraling. It takes a little time, but it’s so worth it, YOU are so worth it. And once you learn to be safe from within, you will know others that are a safe place to help you along your journey.