Becoming the Safety We Can't Find Outside Us
Updated: May 29, 2022
One of the ways that we can support ourselves in maintaining mental health and wellbeing is to become the safety that we can’t find outside ourselves. The world can sometimes feel like a whirling maelstrom of chaos that throws challenges in our path and has us living on a cocktail of stress hormones if we get sucked into that storm.
And as a result our mental, emotional and physical health can become more fragile.
Safety. One of the most important, vital and necessary parts of being able to function as a human. We need physical safety, emotional safety, mental safety. If we are without safety in these fundamental areas of our life we are triggered into constant fight or flight reactions. Then we either shut down and numb out on the one hand or we become agitated and irritable on the other. Without safety we can find ourselves unable to relax, sleep or enjoy life. We struggle to be creative, productive and connect with others in meaningful, fulfilling ways. In the worst case it can lead to mental and physical illness…from Generalised Anxiety Disorder for example to Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
This is all because of the way our nervous system functions. The Sympathetic Nervous System is a necessary part of our biology which keeps us safe from actual attack or danger. It helps us leap into action if there is a threat we need to escape from or hide from. It pours adrenaline into our system so that we have the heightened alertness needed to protect ourselves. But it doesn’t know the difference between real danger or perceived danger. This means that the uncertainty, chaos and challenges of our world trigger this part of our nervous system to be constantly switched on – leading to overwhelm, burn out and anxiety, which then can lead to depression and despair.
And if safety is so important…and our world feels so unsafe what do we do?