When it comes to keeping ourselves safe, mentally, emotionally and physically, it makes sense for us to have boundaries in place so that we remain well and healthy. However, when we are motivated by unwarranted fears, insecurity or paranoia, we may not be keeping ourselves safe but rather stuck.
Walking alone at night, spending time with disrespectful or cruel people, consuming processed foods or working in a job we find unfulfilling may all be things we refuse to do in order to keep ourselves well and living our best lives. Keeping ourselves feeling safe shows due regard for our worth and our right to experience wellbeing. Taking care of ourselves physically, mentally and spiritually respects our desire to be well treated, make good use of our lives and feel healthy and happy while doing so.
Hiding away, playing small, numbing our feelings or obsessing over past events don’t keep us feeling safe and don’t help us thrive in any area. These things masquerade as a way to stay out of harm’s way but actually they keep us stuck in unhealthy feelings that make us feel as if we are trapped in a certain way of living that we can’t change for fear of the unthinkable happening.
Unfortunately, the unthinkable is usually thought about a lot of the time as we become consumed with reliving or imagining horrible events in a bizarre effort to feel them enough to stop us from taking action that might make us feel them in real life.
The thing about feelings, however, is that we experience them as real regardless of whether a situation is occurring in our minds or happening in world outside of us. We create our realities with our thoughts and feelings and they become our real life. Reacting to fears and worries by staying stuck in the feelings of them for fear of bringing more of them about by taking action that risks our ‘safety’ just perpetuates the experience and keeps us endlessly living in a cycle of obsessive thought and paralysis or obsessive action.
Asking ourselves questions about our choices is a helpful way of getting clear on whether we are acting in our own best interests:
Am I consumed by something? Is my reaction to it keeping me safe or stuck? Does my idea of safety honour my need to remain free from harm or is it a way of validating my insecurities, doubts and fears? Do my actions honour my desire to live well and feel well? Am I happy and joyful and energised by my choices? Am I refusing experiences that I might find expansive? What would I do if I wasn’t afraid? What action can I take to get there?
We all have our issues or particular insecurities and many of us have lived through hard times, traumatic events and significant challenges but we rarely feel better by reacting to those as if we are damaged or fragile or unworthy. Keeping ourselves feeling safe creates time, space and conditions to process, heal, rebuild, accept and move on. Keeping ourselves feeling stuck sees us hurt, reliving, insecure, fearful, consumed and frightened to change things.
Staying stuck in the emotions of an unhappy experience doesn’t keep us safe but on the contrary makes us victims of our own inner misery. Safety keeps us secure and sound and results from our understanding that we protect what we are: secure and sound, as well as deserving of health within and without. Denying our resilience, refusing to recognise and utilise our courage and strength for fear of failure, pain or unhappiness means we never get to experience the health of those qualities we posses and instead remain in an experience of everything we seek to avoid.
Noticing what we are allowing for ourselves and looking at the reasons why we are living that way is a step towards breaking free of a cycle that keeps us stuck rather than safe. Taking steps towards a life that honours our worth with healthy boundaries rather than fences us in with fear and doubt allows us to move past what no longer serves us towards a life of freedom, resilience and self respect where feeling safe allows us to take part in the world rather than hide away from or avoid it.