The safe space circle came to me as a concept sometime last year. As a trauma specialist people often come to me with a lot of questions about self-destructive behaviours, toxic patterns and dysfunctional families and they want to know how to fix those things. The sad thing is that even in that moment when someone enquires it’s actually super difficult to start at the very base level; what is actually needed for that person, to even start to consider a healing journey. When people ask me about all of those things the first thing that I have to do is to help people figure out if they are safe.
At first glance it sounds both ridiculous and patronising to have to walk a grown adult through the concept of saftey. However I can tell you straight off that this process is not straightforward nor is it simple. When I talk about saftey in the context of trauma I am actually talking about two different forms of safety, physical safety and emotional safety and one cannot happen without the other. You see when trauma strikes whether it has been as a result of a one off traumatic incident or years of uncertaintly and life disruption; there is very little I can do for a person if they do not feel safe whether that is physically or emotionally and the two a intrinsically linked.
More than this people often speak to me about traumatised people they know and care for that often do not have either the capacity or resources to attend therapy. More than this the person who’s looking for some free advice that might get them through a tough challenge with a good friend I often talk about safety. The challenge is in a highly traumatised society safety in all forms these days is rare. There are very few of us that feel safe in our own skins, never mind at work or even at home. These conversations that are guided by care for another often demonstrate that the person who wants to help is also at capacity. That they simply don’t have the ability to look after another in the most basic ways and are too often struggling to cope with the stresses of modern life.
These days the stresses of modern life sounds like a convenient excuse for not being able to show up. However growing scientific research is clarifying how stressful modern life really is for humans and the traumatising impact that is having on human life and child development. The stresses of modern human life are a very real aspect of what is causing both personal and systemic trauma. That unless we turn back the dial on the way that human life is rolling out and how we are living there is not much that we can do in the growing epidemic of trauma and global mental health crisis.
Evidence is also growing that as a species not only are we completely out of sync with nature we are also totally out of sync with what were our natural family systems and how we should be living. Humans developed as part of intergenerational family groups where we were interdependent on one another. Now most of us live alone or isolated in small family groups with no immediate family or community to help us in our day to to day lives. This way of living is making us sick, creating additional stress that leads to emotional and mental health challenges. There is a growing need for humans to return to old ways of being in order to find wellness. The idea that a lone therapist or carer can fix and hold space exclusively for one person is an outdated one; that is impacting our ability to be well or create sustainable healing environments. We cannot heal in isolation. We need to be able to heal in community and work collectively in order to create greater wellness and turn the tide on personal and societal breakdown. We need to learn how to be in communtiy again.
Safe Space Circle is designed to create safety using the tools of community development to create equity practices that are based in diversity and inclusion. Creating equity is the very foundation of creating safety in groups unless we all feel seen, heard, understood and respected there is little that we can achieve collectively. Circling to is an ancient form of human communication that has been practiced through the ages. Creating safe space that we can share our deepest fears, show our true feelings and be who we really are and fully accpeted in this space.