Saturday, January 25, 2014

Safety: The Key to Success

I’ve written much about safety in past blogs. It is the foundation for my session work and what I strive for and continue to gain in my personal life. I see safety or, to be more precise, a felt sense of internal safety, the key to successful living. What that means for me, among other things, is an expanded expression of creativity, increased joy for living, and self-worth that is no longer hounded by voices telling me I am a failure. These successes are in direct relationship with a deep well of inner safety… and, I must add, trust. The two go hand in hand, one cannot have trust without safety and vice versa: the safer I feel, the more I trust myself and the deeper I trust, the safer I am.

I also feel if we support people in developing this inner safety we will be much farther ahead in ending violence and hate; over-consumption and greed and ... well, lots of things but I am going beyond myself here, lets keep it simple. 

The problem is that too many of us see safety as an external characteristic: one to form rules and regulations around.  And while I am not knocking the policies that come out of safe practice guidelines—they have helped make our schools, job sites and neighbourhoods better places to live and work—safety is not unilateral.  It is complex and multifaceted but held together by the bonds of a secure internal dynamic.

Simply said, the safety I reference is that which comes from knowing who you are and trusting how you feel. But that an oversimplification and prone misinterpretation. When I worked in Vancouver’s downtown eastside I could name many who trusted that their physical need for drugs was valid and true. Drugs, as one addict said to me, made them feel normal. How can one fault that except to suggest that their “normal” was anything but safe? And, of course, it is easy to find examples of people who say they know who they are but crumble at the first sign of rejection or criticism. Safety and trust need something else.

To nurture internal safety we need to develop a strong sense of where our centre lies and knowledge that although we can sometimes lose our way, our centre is a constant if only we look inside. We need to know how our feet feel when on the ground and how easy it is to lose that connection in a moment’s trigger; and how, with practice, we can regain it back just as fast. On that note, we need to foster compassion for those times we do lose our grounding or sight of our centre and become aware of how we feel when sad or angry, hungry or tired, and how to care for those feelings in healthy ways.  We need to acknowledge our uniqueness. For safety to blossom we need to strengthen our capacity for stillness so that we can listen within and discern our truth from our myths and then trust that truth.  And safety needs, maybe most of all, an appreciation of self: the good and the “bad”, and all that lies in-between—finding the wisdom, as the Serenity Prayer guides, to know what to change and what to let be. 

These skills are neither easy nor accomplished without cultivation and patience, good friends and quiet sanctuary, but they are attainable. And no, not as a fait accompli, but as a daily practice that acknowledges and celebrates both our humanness and our Divine Spirit.

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