CREATING SAFE SPACES

PART ONE: THE SPACE

Search for safe space- It starts from the first time we learn to breathe by ourselves- kicking and squealing, not ready for the world forcing into us. We eventually learn to breathe and survive- but doing so in the warm presence of our loved ones makes it bearable…makes it safe. We all need that safe space for us to not just survive, but thrive.

As we grow up, we are no longer the vulnerable-mewling-snot ball versions of ourselves, but truth be told, don’t we all often end up feeling like that on the inside? Even after we have produce our own set of mewling-snot-balls for the world to grab hold of… It’s especially at these points that we feel like:

World/Life/Pain- 1 v/s Human/Me/Mewling-snot-ball- 0.

Could there be a way where we could sometimes, possibly, level up the scores? There is definitely no one simple answer to this…

Let’s back-up to growth of that squealing snot ball. (Or a pup/kitten/sapling if you would rather prefer those)

The surviving/thriving part of the process of growth, or how it occurs- is not under our control. However what is under our control is this-

· The “what we can do’s”: give it the right balance of nutrients; protect it from harm; give it a stimulating environment.

· The “what we can’t do’s”: make it grow faster or slower; make it grow its brains/ flowers before let’s say its trunk; keep exposing only one side of it to the sun and complain that other parts of it hasn’t grown; or worse expect a kitten to grow up to bark or well a cacti to grow a bark.

See where I am going? The above sounds obvious right? Ridiculous to think that someone would actually try to do some of those can’t do’s? Yet, when we return to our mewling versions of ourselves on the inside, at different points while growing up- we oddly end up doing this to ourselves…

“Hey! Look at yourself! Your bark, sorry, your nose should grow out exactly shaped like that one on her/him!” “This isn’t enough! You must be able to produce at least fifty fruits, sorry, earn fifty thousand by now!” “You shouldn’t woof around like a silly dog now, you are a grown adult- behave like one!”

Of course, it is important to compare the rate of our growth with peers or with the demands of the changing world. It guides us to determine where we need to move, grow. At the same time, simply rushing and pushing ourselves is not going to help us grow in anyway- in fact if we just keep doing that and none of the ‘can do’s’ are done, we are probably stunting our own growth.

We could however use the information to guide us in examining our internal environments: For the growth that we desire- are we giving ourselves the right nutrients (encouragement/ love)? Are we giving the right protection from harm (for instance protect ourselves from weeds of doubts/guilt/criticism from inside and outside)? And are we giving the right kind of stimulating environment (openness to learn; make mistakes; perseverance; patience)?

Moreover, like how babies/kittens/pups/saplings need constant tending and monitoring of their environmental needs- we need to keep tending to our internal spaces- give the squealing snot balls in us a safe space to bear through the pain of growth and thrive.

And if I could dare extend this hope- i.e. imagine if we all (who make this world) manage to teach and create this kind of space to the snotty-balls we produce… could that then just be the space for-

World/Life/Pain-1 v/s Human/Us/Squealing-Snotty-Balls- 2 !?! *Gasp!*

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Harini Gunasekaran

Harini Gunasekaran

Clinical Neuro-Psychologist; striving creator of safe spaces for mental health related dialogue-hoping to explore my love-hate relationship of being human here!