It may seem counterintuitive to talk about safety at this time, especially when so many are scared during this pandemic, but I wanted to come at the subject of safety from a different direction.
In a previous podcast episode and blog post I talked about Why Risks Are an Important Part of Life and how uncertainty is a big part of life and the unknown. However it has recently come to my attention that sometimes changes that we want to happen don’t happen because we do not feel safe at a core and deep level within.
Now, like many of you reading, I have spent years moving through old beliefs and unpeeling the layers of pain and trauma so I could allow positive changes for the good of my own wellbeing and self-care. It has felt a hard slog through what felt like wading through treacle for a very long time and while much has changed and I do feel a very different person to who I was over 10 years ago, there have still been many areas in my life that just haven’t budged, that no matter what I do, let go of, and embrace, I have struggled to change.
There has been what felt like an unending sense of ‘I’m stuck, and I don’t know what else to do’.
This week something came to my attention when I was triggered by another person. My old story came up very loudly once again; my heart sank. I had felt that this heaviness had been swirling around me for over a week. I was finding it hard to shed tears which normally have been cathartic for me, and I awoke just feeling ‘I am still stuck, why am I still stuck?’
The tears finally came up and I cried hard. My heart poured out to my best friend Michael and I talked to him about some gentle self-talk I had been giving myself for quite some time and how I still felt powerless in a number of areas. As I let it all out, I dived deep into the dungeon within me, the place my inner child had been living, a place I thought I had rescued my inner child from and there she was, still in the dungeon.
Instead of gently helping my inner child out, I had done what I had been doing most of my life. I had pushed and speedily rushed my inner child out of the dungeon, knocking down the walls I had been told were there with a sledgehammer. I was impatient because as the years pass by, I just really want things to change.
Little did I know, I had not asked my inner child if she wanted to leave the dungeon or how she felt. I had decided that ‘I’ had wanted change and ‘I’ wanted it now, so let’s get out of this dark place with no light and get our freedom.
Knowing full well that this never works, that this is not how we treat our inner children, but because I had used gentle words, I had not realised I had masked urgency and impatience with the appearance of gentleness.
Through the tears I began to see clearly, which a friend had pointed out to me some time ago, that my inner child felt responsible for me, the adult Kelly. She had felt she had failed me. She had felt she needed to take care of me and keep me safe. The only way she knew to keep me safe was to hide in the dungeon, not moving, not seeing light, not allowing any goodness into my life.
She thought it was her job to care for me, not realising her only job was to be Kelly, her only job was to play, to have fun, to simply be. It was instead my job to care for her; it was my job to keep her safe and instead the roles had reversed.
And so, safety really came up loud and clear.
If a part of us does not feel safe to grow, to change, to move into a new life or story, if that part feels safer unmoving, stuck, walled in, we will not allow the new story to blossom and grow. If we do not start at the beginning, give ourselves the foundation of feeling safe, we cannot go any further.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
Some time ago, a hypnotherapist friend said to me that most people she worked with needed help with a few things and were dealing with much later needs as they got older and she talked about the Maslow hierarchy of needs and I realised I was at the bottom of that chart.
Here is the chart
I was in the physiological needs and safety needs areas and this week I realised I was trying to leap up through the list before my core basic needs had been taken care of. I was leaving myself in a very vulnerable place.
Until we feel safe, we will struggle to get other needs met in life. Human safety is absolutely an essential and core need. As babies we need to feel safe and cared for, not left alone or abandoned. I had felt abandoned a lot in my life and as a result, inside of me was someone whose only way to feel safe was to stay still and not allow change or risk further abandonment.
Not feeling safe can leave us on edge all of the time, anxious about the future, scared of being caught out.
For me, for a very long time I feared that the worst was going to come, and it got to the point where I expected the worst would happen. In this current pandemic, in an odd way I’m probably feeling different to how I would have felt 10 years ago, but still there has been a tendency to hold myself back, to stay in the safety zone.
Speaking to the inner child is very important, not just occasionally, but regularly. If your inner child were a physical child, scared and feeling responsible for you instead of the other way around, you would naturally go towards them with care, sensitivity, and any changes you make would be gradual and explained gently. You would tell the child that they were not meant to care for you, but that it was the other way round.
To care for the inner child also means to care for your wellbeing. This means getting enough rest, walking away from toxic relationships or experiences, making sure you make time for play and fun and bring the child a new understanding of safety. To help the child know it is safe to be sad, safe to be angry, safe to be frustrated, safe to be joyful and excited and that you are ready when they are to move forward.
In this current pandemic we can nurture the inner child by reminding them that we are being wise, taking care of ourselves and that life takes care of us also. That whatever happens in life we will get through; we always have and always will. We are honest and say we may get the virus, or we may not get it and whatever happens we will handle it. We understand that life is not without risks and to truly live we must live with risk, but this does not mean we are stupid and deliberately putting ourselves in harm’s way, but that we make decisions from a loving place within.
Do you feel safe right now?
If not, what can you do to feel safe?