The need to feel safe is an inherent need that is with us from the moment we are born; it is tied to our survival and so remains with us for the entirety of our lives. If we don’t feel safe for any reason, we are driven to move towards feeling secure. This level of safety is both physical and emotional. If we are faced with a physical danger, our instincts immediately kick in and everything is set aside in order to deal with the danger at hand. Essentially our fear response is activated and we are impelled to deal with the threat.
We also, however, have an emotional level of safety; one that is individualized for everyone, and is based on what we have learned about our emotions in our lifetime. For example, if you grew up in a very stoic home where the expression of emotion was not encouraged, you may have grown up believing that emotional self control is the only option. This will become part of your emotional level of safety and you will be driven to maintain it, healthy or not. This tends to be an important area of growth for many people who come into therapy; to gain a greater understanding of our how emotional level of safety can affect our decisions. Essentially, we may flee from a healthy emotional choice because it doesn’t feel safe. Learning about our own emotional safety can help us to begin to challenge ourselves to move to healthier choices where our emotions are concerned; providing a greater sense of balance to our emotional experience.
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