Do You Feel Safe Enough to Be Vulnerable?

By September 7, 2015Creativity and Healing

file000388568870Feeling safe may not be something you think much about. Sure, walking into a deserted parking lot at night may give you pause, as it should. But what about everyday interactions that are informed by trust? Do you feel safe enough to be a little vulnerable? Are you willing to be seen just as you are? Do you ever second guess yourself? Do you compare yourself to others? Do you ever feel a bit inferior, or for that matter, superior to others? Are you able to receive a compliment with grace? Can you just smile, say thank you, without needing to turn the attention away or to reciprocate?

If you feel any discomfort at the thought of these scenarios you may be someone who doesn’t feel entirely safe in your own skin. I certainly wasn’t. I thought I was great at being trusting. It turned out I was just good a choosing people who were less trusting than me.


Being Creative Helps You Feel Safe

So what do you do to increase your capacity for feeling safe since it informs nearly every daily experience you have? You may be surprised by the answer. One of the best ways to feel safe is through creative expression. I don’t mean that one session of play dough with the kids and you’re right as rain, although that may be a good start. Here are a few suggestions:


  • Coloring, mandalas is incredibly soothing
  • Knitting, crochet, sewing, or needlepoint
  • Painting, drawing, decoupage
  • Cutting and pasting, or working with clay
  • Music, or dancing in your living room
  • Storytelling, writing, journaling or mind-mapping
  • Photography, cooking or baking

Naturally, it’s important to choose something that is appealing to you. Forget “being good at it.” Judging yourself in this activity will defeat the purpose. The idea is to mindlessly lose yourself in a repetitive task you enjoy without a particular outcome or timeline in mind. Children who have been severely traumatized are found to have excellent results with this type of “therapy” as opposed to talking, which may re-stimulate their trauma. The brain heals trauma through art, it’s a fact. Can Art Be Medicine?


I Don’t Have Time

Can you become a more trusting person through making art, yes, you can. Might you be able to experience more intimacy, more emotional flexibility, and more joy…absolutely. The more creative expression you allow yourself to enjoy the more spaciousness occurs in your life. That may seem counter-intuitive. How can adding yet another thing to your schedule free up time? Let me give you an example. Writing this post was among the top things on my to-do-list. I started my day reviewing my list, knocking off a few of the items. Then I had coffee with a dear friend which relaxed me enough to tackle the large bag of basil in my fridge. As I spent an hour, set aside to write this post, making pesto the idea for how to speak about safety became clearer to me. I really enjoyed making the pesto. I cleaned up and found that I was looking forward to sitting down to write. When I interspersed the tasks on my list with a few creative activities I was able to keep moving and I had a more positive attitude.


You Don’t Need a Big Plan

Needing to feel safe is at the core of dozens of our most common distresses. Loneliness, feelings of alienation, anxiety, depression, low energy and the inability to focus are among the many side effects of our adult moratorium on creative expression. You don’t have to take my word for it, try it for yourself. Grab those old magazines in the garage and make a vision board. You don’t need a plan. All you need are scissors, glue, and something to stick it on. Use the garage wall if you haven’t got any cardboard or foam-core. Let your imagination take you into the serenity of the safe haven you need.

P.S. Go ahead and blame me if your family can’t find you because you’re still admiring your garage wall. You deserve to enjoy all those beautiful, peaceful scenes that have been locked away in your imagination.

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