You deserve to feel safe. You deserve to heal.
You deserve to feel safe in your environment as you heal.
How can we heal if surrounded by the same people who hurt us? The people who keep our bodies immersed in survival mode.
We can’t because our wounds won’t close around people (or environments) that keep causing them to ache.
If like me, you grew up in a dysfunctional environment, chances are you have spent years in a state of heightened fear.
Fear of speaking up. Fear of expressing yourself. Fear of setting boundaries. Fear of being abused. Fear of being hurt again. Fear of upsetting them.
A life immersed in fear can make it difficult to establish a connection between your mind, body, and psyche to facilitate the healing process from trauma.
You want to heal from the habits of substance use, passive-aggressiveness, anger outbursts, or other patterns that you developed to cope with the trauma. However, when you start to work on yourself, external forces can sometimes trigger your old survival mode and lead you back into fearful patterns (aka defense mode).
Not to say that hurtful people and traumatizing environments are solely responsible for our loss of safety, but such environments negatively impact us.
In dysfunctional and unsafe environments, it can be very stressful to be around individuals who cross boundaries, rely too heavily on you for help, are verbally or physically abusive, and who are either unaware of how they are hurting you or who are aware but don’t care.
Escaping Traumatizing Environments
It’s necessary to break away from hurtful people and environments to create a safe, calming space that encourages healing.
Creating a safe space for yourself can be difficult, as it often involves setting boundaries and cutting off contact with people you care about.
Like those family members that you got to love from a distance.
However, it’s either your healing or their inflicted pain, sis.
To create a safe space for yourself, you can start by making decisions that help you feel grounded and secure. Like investing in a separate living space, even if it’s only a room or apartment. Being in a space that is completely your own can be empowering.
Be open to meeting new people. Whether it is joining a new club or talking with a stranger, expanding your social circle can help you feel seen and understood.
Creating a safe space for yourself is a process that will take time, patience, and commitment. But it can be immensely rewarding, as it will permit you to heal, grow, and find joy.
Allow life to show you something different—outside of survival.
Side Note: If you are unable to remove yourself from an unsafe environment (i.e., living with an abusive partner or parents), there are steps you can take to better protect your safety.
Jack Heath, author of the ReachOut Australia blog, shares 5 tips on “What to do when your home is no longer a safe place.”
If you are in an abusive situation and need immediate help, call 911 and/or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for support.
No matter how much pain we’ve experienced in our relationships, a part of us may still long for connection with certain people.
I understand the difficulty of breaking away from what’s familiar and comfortable, especially when you have love for them. I’ve been in this situation too many times, and I know how hard it is to let go, even when our safety and well-being are at risk.
It’s important to accept people for who they are, while also accepting our needs and boundaries. If leaving a toxic or dysfunctional environment is what we need to do in order to protect ourselves, I believe that creating a safe place for ourselves is an act of self-care and self-love.
This blog is a reminder that it’s okay to prioritize your own needs. Creating an environment that feels safe, warm, and gentle is perfectly acceptable and you do not need to feel guilty for forging a new path.
Below are four tips to help you start creating your safe space.
4 Pointers for Creating a Safe Place to Heal
1. Become a safe person for yourself
Survivors of dysfunctional relationships may find themselves engaging in self-destructive behaviors such as not taking care of basic needs (hygiene, nutrition, sleep), criticizing themselves, and depriving themselves of love as a response to how they were treated.
It makes sense that such maladaptive habits have developed, as many of us have become so focused on simply surviving that we have lost touch with our physical and emotional well-being, and instead have turned to unhealthy coping skills to ride out the emotional turmoil.
When we project our own situations or the negative behaviors of others onto ourselves, we become disconnected from the person who needs us most—our inner self. This disconnection creates a sense of abandonment and unsafety within.
Learning to be safe is about understanding that you deserve love, patience, and healing, despite any trauma you may have experienced.
Six ways to become a safe person for yourself
- Take time to nurture your physical and emotional well-being.
- Be kind to yourself in times of joy and hardship.
- Forgive yourself when the trauma responses arise.
- Ask for help when it is needed, and do not be afraid to speak up.
- Stand up for yourself and establish healthy boundaries.
- Talk to yourself with love and understanding.
2. Express your thoughts and feelings in a journal
Do you feel unsafe expressing your thoughts and feelings aloud? If so, you are not alone. Traumatic experiences can cause people to develop trust issues, which can make talking with a therapist or friends about our problems very scary.
Fortunately, there are other outlets where we can release our secrets, feelings, and thoughts.
One such outlet is journaling.
Journaling is writing down our thoughts and feelings in a notebook, sheet of paper, or on an electronic device. It provides us with a safe place to express ourselves free from judgment and ridicule. Plus, it offers privacy and allows us to be fully expressive without external opinions.
If you are having trouble knowing where to start with journaling, I share some pointers in the video below. This includes different writing styles, how to tackle writer’s block, and more.
On another note, writing can be beneficial for those who are struggling to express themselves verbally, as it can help them to find words to describe their inner thoughts and feelings over time.
If you’re looking for a journal for extra privacy, you can find one with a lock at Amazon, Etsy, Walmart, and Target. That way, you can feel confident your thoughts and ideas are secure from prying eyes.
3. Avoid unsafe environments as best as possible
Your body is capable of healing and relaxing when it is in a safe, nurturing environment. It is important to recognize when certain people or environments are not providing that safety and security.
People that threaten your emotional or physical safety should be avoided, as they can trigger reactions in your body that keep you in a state of hypervigilance.
Unsafe people can be family, caregivers, church members, friends, etc.
Being in an environment that triggers your fight or flight mode is not healthy for your body. It is essential to set boundaries and be aware of when these boundaries are not being respected.
If possible, take steps to limit contact with people who do not respect your boundaries, as this will reduce the amount of unnecessary pain you experience.
Queen, you have the power to decide who and what environments are best for your body and your well-being. Respect yourself by creating a nurturing and safe space for yourself, and this will allow your body to heal naturally.
Eight signs an environment is Unsafe
When in these environments (or around certain people):
- You feel physically stressed and restless.
- You feel invisible and your needs unimportant.
- You feel uncomfortable expressing your true self.
- You are constantly in a defensive and on-guard state.
- You are more at peace when you’re away.
- Your boundaries are not respected.
- You feel unhappy and depressed.
- You feel emotionally drained and depleted of energy.
4. Connect with safe people
Experiencing trauma in our early years can lead us to feel that no humans are trustworthy or safe.
While there are certainly people in the world who are unsafe, there are also many safe people out there too. These safe people can come in all shapes and sizes, from new friends, to mental health professionals, to romantic partners, or even just acquaintances.
Trauma can lead us to seek solace in isolation. However, healing can also occur within relationships with other humans.
A safe person is mindful of their words and actions and will create a strong connection with you. They will strive to make sure that your relationship is equal, respectful, and loving despite any issues that may arise.
Connecting with others who bring love into our lives heals the wound of loneliness.
Six signs of a safe person
- They are understanding and tolerant of themselves and others.
- They are a source of light and positivity.
- They provide comfort and support in times of need.
- Their love and respect are consistent.
- They bring out the best in the people around them.
- They lend a compassionate ear and accept reality.
AFFIRMATIONS FOR SAFETY & PROTECTIOn
I created an affirmations list so you can speak safety and protection over your life as you take steps toward building your healing environment. Click the “Download Affirmations List” button to receive the free PDF printable. You can use these daily.
We can not heal in the same environments that traumatized us because these environments are unsafe and triggering.
On our journey to healing, we begin with creating our safe place. This looks like becoming a safe person for ourselves, recording our thoughts and feelings in a journal, avoiding unsafe environments, and connecting with safe people. Doing this can create a new and nurturing environment to help us heal.
Thank you for reading! If you want to receive monthly healing messages, self-empowering tips, and updates, sign up for my Queen Healing Newsletter!
Disclaimer: I am not a mental health professional. I am your sister, a trauma survivor, and a riser! This post does not replace professional counseling or medical advice, nor does Shyteria Empowers diagnose mental illnesses. All content consists of my personal views, experience, and knowledge. While researched thoroughly, it does not guarantee any specified results.