A safe space is a place free judgment, bias, conflict, criticism, or potentially threatening actions, ideas, and conversations held here will not be broadcast. It is a place of deep vulnerability and honesty that leads to incredible personal reflection and growth. It is established and defined by the parties involved and it cannot exist without each knowing it has been created. It doesn’t happen overnight but is cultivated intentionally over time and strengthened through action and understanding and must be protected.
A safe space starts with intimacy, needs time and focus
Growing a safe space needs all parties to remain connected and communicating without judgement or hiding. It entails no holds barred communication, interaction, challenges and sharing to ensure growth and commitment. It shuns spoon feeding and harnesses reflection and personal realizations to fuel lasting growth and change.
It demands deep personal introspection, vulnerability and honesty that guides life’s journey to growth because the hard stuff requires work and though it would be easy for those in the space to provide direct answers, it is beneficial to the participants to allow each other the opportunity to learn and develop the skills needed to deal with life. These spaces provide guidelines, accountability and social support structures through challenging and joyful situations that keep the journey on course.
The adversity and hostility around makes many prefer external conformity to social norms and expectations than to be themselves hence the need for more safe spaces. At it gets increasingly intense in all spheres of life the skills and lessons learnt in the safe spaces enable one to conquer the outside.
When I began walking with coach, I’d complain about everything from the schedule, to life, work, how the home was running, who wasn’t talking to me etc. He began pushing back at every complaint assessing my ‘reasons’ for the situation or choice and countering with questions. Often I wanted to walk away saying this is not what I signed up for until we revisited matter.
‘I didn’t sign up for this.’ I said
‘Yes you did.’ He replied. ‘The day you accepted my offer to help you walk this journey together.’ He said
‘I didn’t know it would be so hard…’ I sighed
‘It is only as hard as you make it,’ he chimed
‘Yeah right. All you ever do is ask questions and tell me how I need to look deeper, that I know the answer and I don’t want to deal with stuff. I am doing my best.’ I whined
‘Are you sure you are doing your best?’ he asked
‘There you go again doubting and pushing me.’ I responded
‘Do you understand why I push you?’ he asked.
‘Because you are mean…?’ I said
‘Ha!! No!! Try again.’ He said
‘That is what I think,’ I sighed
‘Good God help me,’ he sighed. ‘I push you because I am a true friend.’ he said
‘Yeah right!’ I puffed, ‘True friend my foot.’
‘It is true. Hard stuff requires hard work. I want to make it easy but I wouldn’t be doing you any favours. The goal is to guide you not do the work for you.’ he replied.
‘Why?’ I ask softly
‘Healing comes from the work done in an environment that allows failure but demands you rise when you fall. If I coddle you when you need to keep walking I won’t be helping you long term and that won’t help anyone. In this space you can try and fail knowing that there is no judgement just pressure to keep pushing and working towards your goals. When you reach the goal, the push is to set a new target and keep walking and growing. Safe space aren’t about holding you with kid gloves, rather it is a demand that you to be the best you can be.’ He said
‘What happens when I fail, can’t get up and go on?’ I ask
‘We will sit there for a bit, allow you to catch your breath, find the lessons, apply them then get up and keep going. When you feel at the end of your rope or need to deal with deeper issues we will sit together and deal but in the end you must stand up and keep walking. There will be no wallowing self-pity so we don’t lose momentum and never get up again,’ he responded.
Suddenly, I really understood! This space allows me to grow in leaps and bounds because the pressure is consistent and unrelenting. It has forced me to deal with life in different, be more self-aware and know the voice of God . This deep self-awareness fuels the application of lessons learnt to the path walked. I have several safe spaces because different people are assigned to different parts of my life so we plan for these differences.
It’s impossible to keep moving without spaces to just be truly me.
Be certain that when you don’t see me losing my cool or understand where I get the strength to deal with the day from, I have been to one of my safe spaces, let down my hair (pun intended), cried, dealt and come back out a better person. I have been pushed to the corner and come back stronger. I have faced me and found the right way out of, through or round the challenges of growing. I have found spaces where no matter who I am or what I have done or am going through, I am free; I am loved; I am enough; I am accepted.
Do you need to ask God for a space of intentional growth? Take a moment and do so.
Life changes when we tackle it head on.