This past week I had the pleasure of hearing a talk on “Healthy Relationships”. For me it was a very important talk because it gave some practical insights on how to build connection and intimacy in relationships.
The speaker pointed out that CONNECTION comes from OPEN HEARTS and open hearts come from SAFETY or a SAFE ENVIRONMENT.
This was very insightful to me because we put a lot of attention on connection and community but not enough attention on how to build it.
I was challenged to ask Debbie two questions:
1. Do you feel safe with me?
2. Do I create a safe environment for you?
These two questions led to some very healthy and hard conversations. What was particularly helpful was the list of what makes a person or environment safe or unsafe.
What makes one UNSAFE?
1. Having angry outbursts
2. Threats…of divorce, leaving or violence
3. Ignoring issues
4. Avoiding issues…not addressing them now or later
5. Using sarcastic humor
6. Judging another’s feelings…”You shouldn’t feel that way”
9. Fixing or solving rather than listening
10. Emotionally shutting down or the silent treatment
11. Forcing or demanding conversation
12. Looking for negative traits
13. Using information against them later
14. Trying to be right or win
15. Losing control of emotions
16. What else would you add to this list?
What makes one SAFE?
1. Showing care for them
2. Honoring their personality differences
3. Communicating how valuable they are
4. Showing patience
5. Asking about their feelings
6. Expressing curiosity
7. Seeking to understand
8. Focusing on positive traits
9. Empathizing willingly
10. Giving undivided attention
11. Acting genuinely
12. Sharing feelings
13. Giving affirmation
As I have thought about this concept, I believe it is SOOOOOO fundamental to deep, open, honest, safe friendships and intimacy. Hope it encourages and challenges you as it has Debbie and me.