I grew up learning the importance of safety. My father was a police officer, and my mother was a nurse. They taught me to be aware of my surroundings, to take care of myself physically, call them if I am ever in trouble, and much more. I learned not to talk to strangers, and the consequences of what can happen when a person is reckless and does not obey safety rules.
I learned more about safety as I entered school. It was similar to what we all learned at home. We had officer Friendly, and the D.A.R.E. program to make sure we knew how bad drugs and alcohol were, and how they can negatively affect us, even become deadly. This made me feel safe, and I was in such a structured lifestyle. But as time went on, and I went off to college, I no longer felt the safety net.
See, there was less structure, and I began to realize that I didn’t even trust myself to make my own decisions all of the time. I was a people pleaser, and I was easily influenced. I think I liked the lack of structure at first, but then I felt a little lost. My core safety felt gone, and in turn, I didn’t feel safe.
A lot of times when we discuss safety, we don’t talk about the mental aspect of safety. There is the anxiety, paranoia, trauma, etc. that can trigger us and make us feel unsafe. I never thought of this growing up. I didn’t realize that safety could have mental and/or emotional aspects. This discomfort I felt I couldn’t describe in the moment. It began to affect my self-esteem, and my life as a whole. Furthermore, I didn’t realize that people who are your friends, family, and acquaintances could make you feel unsafe. I would feel it from people, but I chose to ignore it. I mean its strangers that are the ones who make us feel unsafe, correct?
As I realized it was first up to me to trust myself and allow myself to feel safe with my decisions, it helped me to find ways to let go of the people and situations that made me feel unsafe. This took so long, and I want to share a few things that I implemented in my life to get back my feeling of overall safety.
For one, I made a safe space in my home. This was my relaxation space. Unsafe people or experiences were not allowed in this area. This was and is a peaceful place. It is where I go to meditate, calm myself, and implement positivity, gratitude, and perspective. It doesn’t have to be big, just a place where you can feel safe and bring in things that make you feel at peace.
Secondly, I learned to listen to my gut. I learned to listen to the feelings that I used to just blame on anxiety or me overthinking. I now listen to it, and I don’t ignore it. Disclaimer: If I start to feel like everything is unsafe, or things are now unsafe that I know are safe and I begin to doubt myself, I take some time to center myself. But as a rule of thumb, if my gut is screaming, it’s time to get out.
Lastly, I place and maintain boundaries for myself and others, especially in terms of ultimate self-care. My mental health comes first, and daily, I pour into that area of my life, even if it is something small. Nothing is too small to help your mental health stay well. As for all sorts of relationships in my life, I let go when and if I have to do so. This has always been difficult for me, but it is essential for me to live my best and most purposeful life. Relationships can have their rough patches, but if it is becoming exhausting with no change and little to no communication and honesty, its time to go. I have confidence in myself now, after putting in the effort with the right people in my life, to let go of those who are no longer a positive part of my life, and vice versa. It doesn’t always take letting go completely, but checking in, having open and honest conversations, and consistently being open to change and growth is a must. Keep up those boundaries and listen to yourself. You know yourself best! 😊