Safety is the single, most important, most crucial ingredient for healing, whether it’s healing the body, overeating, food addiction, sugar addiction, weight loss, or any painful food pattern.
According to developmental psychologist Dr. Gordon Neufeld, the brain can only do one of two things: protect you or grow. In order to grow – to heal, to change painful patterns, to soothe emotional wounds – the need for safety has to be met.
Many of us who’ve struggled with food stuff have a deficit of safety. This is often because our early life experiences didn’t give us the nurturing, emotional connection, or safety we needed. Instead, we learned that “life is a scary place;” or, “I can’t count on anyone; I have to count on myself.” Or we learned, “No one cares.”
Fortunately, we can actively create safety in our lives and soothe the brain’s need to protect itself. We can soothe and change those messages to “I can count on others,” “Life is safe,” and “I am cared for.” This is the basis of growing human(kind)ness, the therapy I created to heal food suffering. We do this by changing the thought patterns and beliefs about how we care for ourselves while also grieving and caring for our deep seated emotional wounds.
How can you create safety in your life? Here are some examples:
We create safety when we question our thinking, the shoulds that tell us we’re not doing enough, that we should be doing more, that we should be different, that we’re not okay. This is the work of centering.
We create safety when we offer ourselves loving compassion, when we give ourselves loving acceptance. When we can rest in our own hearts without judgment (The voice that says, “You should be different.”)
We create safety when we have regular, rhythmic patterns of self care in place in our lives – regular time for rest, relaxation, for nourishing food.
We create safety when we have an inner compass that allows us to say no – to separate our needs and feelings from another’s; to decide what to allow in and what to filter out.
We create safety when we turn towards our needs and feelings instead of pushing them away or trying to avoid them. The running from our feelings causes anxiety. Turning towards them creates safety.
We create safety when we acknowledge our needs and care for them rather than stoicly saying, “It’s not a big deal.”
We create safety when we give ourselves loving support by reaching out to others for help instead of trying to do everything on our own.
We create safety when we say no when we need to say no, and honor life’s limits.
We create safety when we forgive our very humanness…. when we rest with our imperfection.
We create safety when we stop blaming ourselves, life, and others for our pain, and simply feel the pain itself.
We create safety when we stop shoulding all over ourselves.
We create safety when we recognize what we can’t change and let it go.
We create safety when we rest in a greater sense of who we are – the Divine that flows through each of us.
We create safety when we reassure our feelings of self doubt and say to them, “Sh, sh, I love all of me.”
We create safety when we embrace every part of us with lovingkindness.