What to do and how to be during an ongoing crisis or in urgent circumstances
Inner and outer safety, and the necessity of doing the laundry
One of the questions that often comes up in coaching during urgent times of crisis is 'How do I do regular life?' I don't know how to 'be.'
Everyone will have their own good, right way, and...my thoughts on this are to do with safety.
Creating safety is, I think, at the heart of any life of contribution.
As contrary as this may sound, when things are chaotic, terrifying, or even tragic, being able to ask “where are we safe” is a real need. Even though we may not, in fact, be able to be truly or wholly safe, we need places within our difficulties that feel even the tiniest bit safe, in order to be brave.
These can be external safe zones and/or internal ones.
I think of myself as a young girl, and I know I made it through in part because I found safety where I could - becoming a night owl, awake when everyone else was asleep; locking the door to the bathroom; being a good student and being able to count on myself for that. These were the places I developed the resilience I needed to face the ugly other parts. I always had those places to come back to - they made me who I’m able to be today.
When we feel like there is NO safety, little else can happen. We shut down. Our minds freeze. We react poorly, and can cause less safety for others in what can become a brutal cycle.
When are you at your righteous best? Are you strong because you can rely on certain things, tangible and intangible? Safety can look like an inner knowing you’re being congruent, for example, when you feel safe within yourself.
In this way we can find ourselves under great duress, and still have the fortitude to act.
When I find myself stuck, stagnant or otherwise not moving ahead, I’ve discovered that I can check in and ask "How safe am I feeling?" to good effect. If my answer is "I don't feel safe” then I can ask “What do I need so I can feel a little safer?”
Or, my answer might be “I actually feel quite safe." These answers give me access to what I can do next. By contrast, if in trying this on, I land on the answer “I don’t feel safe,” of course that’s fair as well, right? You might ask, what then? The answer is a useful paradox:
In this little bit of acknowledgement and acceptance that I am indeed not feeling safe…I feel a little safer.
You see, it’s because I’m no longer fighting myself or my feelings. I create in myself a place where my feelings can be at home, where I belong to myself without judgement. In that place, a piece of inner safety makes itself known.
These are the bread crumbs I follow to continuing to do brave things - building a 'safe bridge' to cross.
This discussion about safety is, to me, a key piece of what I think of as emotional leadership.
If you find yourself stuck, or immobilized, I can say definitively, judgement is not the answer. Probably, I would like to suggest, looking for a way to tend to your own safety will help you access more capacity to breathe, and therefore contribute.
Even though fear and outrage are often what bring out our courage to start, somehow, somewhere… safety is needed for that courage to grow legs.
As professionals who work with clients seeking personal growth, it’s necessary to bear in mind that over-encouragement of a person who is not feeling safe will not only NOT create the change they have asked you to support, but it can be damaging to them. Our work is to forge safe places that clients can get stronger within, so they can withstand and have agency over the hardest things. Working on this skill is important, and worthy.
If you’re someone who helps others as a profession, go very cautiously before you create fear in any interaction. The potential for abuse of power is very real.
Yes, we all want clarity to act. We all want to act. We all want change. Yes, we can and must do more, and we will. And, when we understand our relationship to safety, we can do this with better usage of our resources, with sustained intensity and lasting results.
During the emergency, also the laundry…
One final word on this: do not mistake the urgent need to act in one area, as primal and valid as it may be, as a call to abandon yourself, or your existing work. It can be, and needs to be a "Yes, and" situation. If we can grasp the idea: 'After the ecstasy (aka spiritual awakening) the laundry (everyday life)' the corollary is 'During the emergency, also the laundry.'
In fact, the state of your 'laundry' impacts your capacity during any emergency, especially if that feeling of crisis looks like it will be with us for a while. #2020
TL:DNR Where can you create small spots of safety in your life, the better for you to take courageous action in the face of terrible circumstances and great need?
I invite you to explore, comment, or discuss these ideas with someone you care about. What is your relationship to safety? To what degree is it a factor in your life? How can you increase it, so you can sustain your energy for what’s ahead?
P.S. Feeling safe to act does not need to mean we avoid feeling uncomfortable. “How can I feel a little bit more safe AND be uncomfortable, maybe extremely uncomfortable, with the state of the world?”
Getting braver and safer together: an invitation to the final free Community Coaching Call in its current format
While we’re on the topic of discomfort and safety, for nearly 2 years, I’ve held an almost-monthly group coaching call via Zoom, free of charge for anyone who’d like to attend. This has been both memorable, challenging and joyful - thank you to all who’ve dropped by <3
The time has come to evolve the way I want to make group coaching available, having to do with the subscription here. This will allow me to provide more structure and resources, as well as be more organized. :-) But before all that becomes more official…
I’ll be holding one more CCC in the old format in on July 9, 2020
On this date, you are invited to attend with no fee, and bring any question at all for coaching, including the practical application of the above ideas if that tickles your fancy. I can’t promise to have all the answers, but I will certainly do my best to help you find a new question, which, in my world equals progress and freedom. :-)
For details, and to register so I can send you call-in details and the recording afterward, visit this page.
Note: If you’ve previously registered, there’s no need to do so again. And, if the new subscription fee going forward will be difficult for you for whatever reason, please reach out for one of the available sponsored seats. I look forward to celebrating this final free Community Coaching Call with you!
Photo credit: Photo by Cindy Tang on Unsplash
”Andrea is careful with dreams and missions and is fully invested. She wants the best for her clients and is patient enough to wait while we flounder under the weight of not knowing what we want for ourselves. She never gives up on her people.”
— Indrani Goradia, Founder, www.RAFTCares.org