“Everyone needs a safe place to share their emotions” – Annonymous
If you’ve ever seen a vehicle with a dent, it makes you wonder about its history. A dent on a vehicle is a reminder of a negative event in the past. Many people today are living with emotional dents. The hurt experienced constantly reminds us of an event that negatively impacted our lives. These dents can stagnate our lives, keeping us locked in vicious cycles of emotional trauma with no way to get past or heal from the emotional dents. The cost of emotional dents runs deeper than the price we pay for dents on a vehicle. Most of us have insurance to cover the repairs on a car, but what do we do with emotional dents? They create relational rifts as we project our hurt on others and cannot muster the wherewithal to contain the emotional build-up and run-off that erupts and leaves those close to us dealing with the lava of hot emotions.
Dents in our lives call for safe places where we can express our emotional eruptions with the aim of finding healing. Pastor and best-selling author Rick Warren says, “Revealing is the beginning of healing.” The nature of our emotions is such that they either need a relief valve or they become a tinder box if held in too long. A safe place is an environment where people are given permission to be honest, open, and transparent without judgment. Safe places are a gateway to helping others step out of destructive emotions. Additionally, safe places help those close to us become emotionally agile and not allow emotional dents to dictate their lives. Emotional safe places are important because they allow us to process our emotions in a healthy way. When we feel safe expressing our emotions, we are less likely to bottle them up or act combustive.
Emotional Safe Places
Being an emotionally safe place means those close to you have permission to be vulnerable with you. They should not be further dented with rejection, shame, or criticism. Instead, they are confident that their vulnerability will be acknowledged and met with empathy. Safe places allow emotional freedom that would otherwise rear its head in other ways if suppressed. Being an emotionally safe place starts by genuinely inquiring how someone is doing. While this has become more of a formality today, applying authenticity by listening can develop the trust necessary to become a safe place.
Reading non-verbal emotional cues can also help you become a safe place. When you ask, “How are you doing?” listen with observation. Pay attention to the person’s face, posture, and tone of voice to help you understand how they are really doing when their words don’t tell the whole story. Picking up on these cues enables you to develop emotional intelligence and respond appropriately with a question that may cause the person to be more expressive. Commit to learning what is important to people. You cannot be a safe place unless you connect with people and learn what matters to them. Emotional triggers are usually underlined by what we care about.
Final thought: We live in an emotionally charged culture. Emotion suppression only lasts so long before it results in destructive expressions. Emotional safe places are key to minimizing or eliminating the combustive nature of negative emotions. As our world moves faster and lives get busier, we must each become intentional about slowing down, asking those around us how they are doing, listening with compassion instead of judgment, and permitting them to be emotionally honest, open, and transparent. The dents formed from emotional hurt and trauma can be repaired and healed by becoming emotionally safe places for each other.
Keep on keeping on!