When we think of “safety”, we typically default to thinking about our physical safety. The answer to the question, “are you safe right now?” usually requires us to assess our physical self. We evaluate the potential harm we may experience due to our immediate surroundings. But what we don’t often think about is our emotional safety. This can be just as easily threatened by any of our surroundings, including the people around us. 

Understanding which environmental factors pose a risk to our own emotional safety – or the emotional safety of others – can help us foster healthy environments for both ourselves and those around us. Read on to learn how to cultivate emotional safety no matter where you are or who you’re with. 

What is emotional safety?

Emotional safety is a state of being and feeling that arises when people feel comfortable being themselves, and expressing themselves, without feeling like they will be judged, attacked, or otherwise challenged in a negative way. This does not mean one’s beliefs or ideas cannot be challenged, but an emotionally-safe environment will allow for the respectful, judgment-free exchange of thoughts and feelings with the goal of coming to a mutual understanding on the matter.

The cultivation of emotional safety means that all people involved are respectful and authentic with each other, allowing each person to be freely expressive without fear of being ridiculed or criticized. 

Cultivating safety for others

One of the common ways people can threaten each other’s emotional safety in conversation is by trying to convince another person of one’s own perspective without trying to first understand the other’s. This type of communication leads to disconnection in the conversation and makes the other person feel as though they are not listened to or respected, and that their feelings are not valid. It is incredibly important to continuously validate the other person in conversation. Saying things like, “I hear you, and I understand why you feel that way” is a great way to validate someone’s feelings. This is true even if you don’t agree with them. 

One tip to help you avoid the path of “convincing” rather than listening is to continuously evaluate your goals. Are you trying to understand them? Or are you trying to disagree with them? A great way to conduct conversations where emotions are high and one person may feel emotionally threatened is to always try to agree with them.

This doesn’t mean to just give in on your beliefs and ideas. Rather, try to conduct your conversation from a place of agreement: slow down, and with each step of the conversation find something you both agree on. For example, you could say, “I just told you X, and you responded with Y. Do you agree that’s what just happened?” 

Regardless of who you’re speaking with, or about what, working to uphold the other person’s emotional safety is an important part of any conversation. Continuously check in with the people around you and strive to converse from a baseline place of agreement. This will help you to create and maintain a safe emotional space for anyone around you. 

Cultivating emotional safety for yourself

Our emotional safety can be upheld, acknowledged, and fostered by the people around us. However, it can just as easily be threatened by them, too. It’s important to understand how to maintain and care for your own emotional safety, regardless of how those around you act. 

To take care of your own emotional safety, you must understand the relationships you hold with the people around you in a conversation. During frustrating situations, like arguments or time-sensitive discussions, physically remove yourself from the company of those who pose a potential threat to your emotional safety. This will ensure you can remain focused and clear about your goals. One key aspect of this is understanding your own triggers. These are the things that are likely to make you feel hurt or looked down upon.

Then, setting – and maintaining – boundaries with respect to these triggers will help you avoid them. Boundaries could be in the form of verbal warnings to those around you. They could also be a refusal to speak on certain subjects, until you are assured that your opinion will be respected and listened to. 

Handling your own triggers

It is also important to have an arsenal of tools available to help you deal with triggers. Triggers can arise in various social situations, often without warning. For example, learn how to clearly articulate to those who threaten your emotional safety. Tell them that you need them to validate your experience or your feelings before you will feel comfortable continuing to speak with them. Another useful tool can be recognizing when you need a break from a conversation. Physically remove yourself from the situation for a while. You could use this time to get some water, go for a short walk and get some fresh air, or simply meditate for a few minutes and relax.

We may become emotionally drained in conversation, and need a mental reset or refocus of some kind. If you find yourself needing an emotional pick-me-up, try treating yourself to something sweet, or take a couple of biocbd+ Organic Fruit Slices. They’re our sweet, delicious CBD gummies infused with broad-spectrum CBD for a pick-me-up that’s good for your body and spirit.

Sometimes, we aren’t able to remove ourselves from the presence of emotionally-triggering elements. Alternatively, it may not be appropriate to do so. In this case, it can be difficult to remain calm and rational when your emotional safety is threatened. However, this comes with practice.

Maintain daily check-in practices

Overall, cultivating emotional safety for yourself, whether at work, at home, or with friends, is about understanding both what you need in conversation. It’s also about learning how to give others what they need, too. Check in with your emotions daily, or even multiple times a day. Allow yourself the space to be feeling differently each time. Do this even if you don’t think anything has changed in terms of your outer influences and experiences. Build the strength to recognize and overcome potentially triggering situations while remaining in control of your emotions. This is crucial to maintaining your emotional health.