By Bob Livingstone
Many of us have that anxious feeling running through our bodies on a regular basis. That feeling comes in a variety of states; from intense five alarm bells loudly ringing to fear running in the background of our thoughts. When this happens, folks can withdraw socially, rely on substances or get caught up in drama to escape this feeling of impending doom.
We walk through life fearful of looking at what causes this overwhelming worry. We believe that we are just anxious because one or both of our parents is a worrier. We accept as true that we are in fear because we have been traumatized at one or more points in our lives. We think there is no relief for this state, so we do our best to grind it out and survive. We also have the mindset that actually facing this agony will create more pain making it more difficult to survive.
In reality, we don’t feel safe much of the time and that lack of safety is the major trigger for all the fear that washes through us. Many of us have no real concept of what being safe means.
Many of us have not received reassurance from our parents that no matter how horrible your life was going, you would eventually not just be ok, but thrive. That sense of hope and faith was never instilled.
When I look at how lovingly my friends/neighbors look at their children as they hold them, I realize that my parents never gazed into my eyes in such a passionate way. I imagine feeling loved that fiercely provides a child with warmth, self-confidence and security.
Feeling wanted leads to feeling safe. Being safe is the absence of beating yourself up or feeling that all that is good in your life is a moment away from vanishing forever.
Feeling safe is not having that soon to be falling off a cliff feeling and not worried about being criticized by those surrounding you.
Feeling safe means being self-assured and ditching the self-doubt. It means waking up in the morning and deeply knowing that you deserve to live in a safe space and have the happiness that it brings.
Feeling safe is the ultimate goal of psychotherapy or any other means of self-exploration.
Stay tuned for part 2 of this article…..
– Bob Livingstone is the author the critically acclaimed Unchain the Pain: How to be Your Own Therapist, Norlights Press 2011, The Body Mind Soul Solution: Healing Emotional Pain through Exercise, Pegasus Books, 2007 and Redemption of the Shattered: A Teenager’s Healing Journey through Sandtray Therapy, Booklocker 2002. He is a psychotherapist, licensed clinical social worker in private practice in The San Francisco Bay Area and has nearly twenty five years experience working with adults, adolescents and children.