It’s been an emotionally tumultuous month.
We have a new president. Our country is divided. The world is on edge. It seems like everyone is angry and scared.
I’m unemployed and not sure what’s next. Not sure which pathway to pursue, what makes sense, what’s right, or what I want.
And it’s winter. The holidays are long gone. The grey skies and chilly temps are daily and uninspiring.
I’ve had many moments sitting at the cold marble dining room table with a laptop, trying to connect to life, to something that sparks joy and peace. I end up closing the lid and sitting alone wondering when I will find my equilibrium again.
I don’t want to go backwards to where I was. But I don’t know what I’m headed toward. It’s unnerving. Self-doubt has swelled up.
Some days I can keep it at a distance and I feel the presence of hope and a new future. Other days I can’t see beyond my own fear stories and limiting beliefs.
When my kids were little we taught them about “safe space.” We learned from several friends about this strategy for creating open communication with our kids as they moved through the many stages of child development.
How it works: we told them repeatedly at a young age that if they ever did something wrong, all they had to do was come to us and say “safe space,” and they wouldn’t be in trouble with us. They might have to deal with the consequences of their actions, but they weren’t in trouble with mom and dad. We’d have their backs.
It has worked. Rather than go into secrecy and hiding, they come straight to us when they’ve made mistakes. Worst offenses so far include breaking things, realizing they aren’t prepared for turning in a school assignment the next day and admitting to lying.
The magic of “safe space” is that we can work through challenges together. We forgive, and we stay connected. They are safe from judgment and being alone. Our connection is humanizing, stabilizing and comforting. They are safe with us.
I think adults need a strategy for “safe space.” I have needed one in these past few weeks! Here are my top moves for experiencing a “safe space” when I’m alone, scared or just down:
- Phone a friend.
Sounds so basic, but it doesn’t come naturally to me at those times I could use it most. Thankfully, I have a couple friends who seem to be psychic, and they call me when they can tell I’m not myself. This also includes sharing my down or dark feelings with my husband. I often don’t want to burden him with this stuff, especially when he’s having long days at work. But he’s an awesome listener, and I can count on him not to judge – that’s what I need most to feel safe.
- Help someone else.
I’m not used to being home by myself all day. Sometimes a little too much time with my thoughts gets to be unproductive. I got in touch with my sister-in-law who is launching a nonprofit that offers programs for parenting and building strong families. I offered my help, however she could use it. We talk a few times per week now, and it’s so nice to think about someone other than me! It brings out my best self which is refreshing and grounding. And given her line of work, I’m getting a lot out of our conversations, too!
- Feed the soul.
I’m now in the last week of May Cause Miracles by Gabby Bernstein. Doing the daily work of reading, affirmations, meditating and praying, and journaling has been such a great structure to keep me focused on what matters most: choosing my mindset and choosing love. The biggest shift for me in taking on her daily practices has been that of letting go of figuring my life out by myself and getting in a dialogue with my “inner guide” – trusting that there’s a great plan for me. When I let go, I discover comfort and security.
How about you – what are your strategies for making a “safe space” for yourself in the midst of uncertainty? I’m very open to suggestions…