I have given a lot of thought to the question, “what does it mean to be safe?” I think this question arose when I considered why was I scared so much of the time.
I now know part of the answer is understanding my human physiology; the unconscious part of my brain, the reptilian brain, that is always scanning to see if I am safe. I know this part of the brain is activated on average between 50-200 times per day. I am not in any physical danger most days, so what gets activated is my memories and my ideas about how things should be. It is not about physical safety, but emotional safety.
Most human beings have experienced trauma of varying degrees. It can be emotional, physical or both. Given this reality, how can I ever feel safe and get free of my past? Not surprisingly, the first step is to be present; to be aware of what I am experiencing. Becoming present allow me to choose a response.
Beyond that, it is useful to investigate “what does it mean to me to be safe?” If I am only safe when there is no pain or suffering in myself or those I love, I will never feel safe. If I am safe only when I am not afraid of death, I will never feel safe. Pain, suffering and death of our human body are all part of our human experience. As long as I resist reality, I will be afraid.
What allowed me to move from fear toward peace was finding a relationship with a Power greater than myself that cared for me. It had sufficient power to carry me through the challenges of my daily experience and sufficient power to free me from my past emotional traumas. I learned to trust this Power was in me and was always available. I stopped judging painful experiences and began to look for what I was being asked to learn. I accepted “all is gift,” no matter how the experience looked.
I have concluded that my safety does not depend on external circumstances. It depends on my emotions sobriety.