Give your children the best start! What is a safe space and how do you create one? What if you never had one?
A safe space is somewhere we can feel safe. Totally. Comfortable and safe. Where we feel safe enough to face whatever the world has to ask of us and to speak our most vulnerable thoughts. A truly safe space is rare and very, very precious and creates resilience.
That resilience is something that will stay with us for the rest of our lives and help us survive, whatever life throws at us.
Luckily, it is also something that we can create for ourselves later in life (if no-one helped us as children). A counsellor, social worker, good friend and ConnectionCue cards can help with that.
My best friend Terri’s sickbed was my special place for years. We would talk for hours – about anything – and it was the place I longed to come back to whenever I felt vulnerable. Together we could take on the world! Sometimes we would be crying with laughter. Sometimes sadness. I felt as though I could face whatever the world dished up, so long as she was there for me to go back to. That was my safe space and she was ‘my person’. I miss her terribly, now she is no longer with us.
When my granddaughter was 9, she loved a cardboard box with her special possessions in it! Her idea of heaven was for her dad (or me!) to squeeze in the box with her and whisper! She has become incredibly resilient and knows her dad (and I) will always be there, on her side, listening to her. Always.
If a child has that love and safety – to be or think and talk about anything – when they are young, they grow up resilient and strong. A child is unable to soothe themselves. They need an adult to lend them their resilience. In this safe space, they learn that the world is always OK (if not good) and they grow into adults able to soothe themselves and others.
No Judgement. No Criticisms. No Advice
A safe space is somewhere we know we will not be judged. Ever. We know that we will not be criticized. There will be no unsolicited advice. None. In fact, no advice unless it’s asked for… And even then, perhaps, none. We can take our time and explore all of our own thoughts and beliefs and speak them out loud. There we will find the answer to every one of our own problems.
All of us, at any age, need a safe space to talk. And laugh. And sometimes cry. These are needs. As are the strength and courage to go off and face the world that comes from having that safe space. For children, the lack of such a space, where they can feel absolutely safe and comfortable to talk, is even more important. They need to be free to find their self-confidence. The effect of not having such a space could be with them for many years and limit their choices. Bend their values. Distort their dreams. Change the very course of their life.
ConnectionCue cards help you identify and name your feelings and needs and ‘cue’ you to keep you on track.
If you are an adult whose mind races at a million miles an hour, thinking rather than feeling, ConnectionCue cards will guide you to ‘smell the roses’ (feel and try out your senses).
If you are an adult whose emotions often overwhelm them, ConnectionCue cards will help you find your ground and order/sort out your feelings.
If you are a quiet person and you feel (to be honest) kind of numb and ‘zoned out’, ConnectionCue cards will guide you to reconnect with yourself. Slowly they will help you to ‘feel’ again.
If you are a child or young person, it is a relief to discover that we all have the same needs and feelings, whoever we are. All of these feelings and needs have names and we each have a unique blueprint! You only know what you know?
My wish is that parents know how important it is to create a safe space at home for their children and, in that space, to discover and learn about all of their needs. I think this is the single most important thing any parent can do. That and share the CueCards with their children, teaching them what needs and feelings are and exploring their child’s individual blueprint. We need to create a safe physical space. One that is warm, dry, offers some privacy, comfort, beauty and good nutrition. On top of that we parents must take responsibility to not allow the other people in that space – likely family – to shout, bully or be physically violent.
One of the hardest jobs is silently listening and just ‘witnessing’ our children grow up, being their first ‘person’ and creating that safe space.
One of the hardest things for a parent is to sit by, feeling helpless, watching their child suffer from depression. Far from being helpless, if you allow your kid to talk, you are helping your child to grow. Not only that but the simple act of listening lets a child know you find them worthy and ‘good enough’: worth listening to. Being a parent is one of the toughest jobs in the world. Bar none. It is also the most important job.
Sadly, society is uncomfortable with depression. It is something to be cajoled out of. Joked about. To be swept under the rug. The truth is that depression can be very necessary on occasion. If something traumatic (big or small – don’t judge…) has happened, we need time to sit with it. To just let it sink in. To be ‘depressed’. It is natures way to give us time to explore it, talk about it and wrestle with it till we find the answer. The answer for us. Depression isn’t always ‘bad’. Hard though it may be to see, we need to be able to listen, quietly and with compassion and without giving our own opinions.
Create a Safe Space: No Judgement, No Criticism and No Opinions
A sacfe space is vital for us to feel safe in order that we can explore the world and grow. Even more importantly, we need to feel safe while we unload and express our feelings about something traumatic that has happened to us. In doing that we will find the answer for us: solve our problem.
If we don’t feel safe, we can’t talk about the feelings – all of the feelings. Ultimately we can’t explore a feeling or thought if we don’t feel safe to talk about it. We may even feel uncomfortable or ashamed of having those feelings.
There’s something magical about speaking our thoughts out loud to someone else? Or journalling. Feeling able to risk being vulnerable often results in magic happening. Feeling safe, a person may well, eventually, lead themselves out of depression. Without that safety, they may well be stuck in a sad and difficult depression.
Know that the idea of a safe space is real and important. We all need one, at every age. Find someone who is willing to be ‘your’ person. (Or your cat, dog or chicken!) If something is weighing on your mind, know that it is important, whatever it is and ask to see a counsellor. There are many counsellors online and most schools have a counsellor. No topic is ‘too silly’ or taboo. And you will likely find support groups for every age in every community. If you need my help, you are welcome to contact me click here.
Thank you for reading this article! Julie