What If I Felt Safe?
I happened upon a question recently that seems to have magical powers.
I was in a tiff with my partner, feeling defensive and righteous.
Deep down, I wanted closeness and connection. (Don’t I always? Don’t we all?)
And yet I watched as my choices seemed to be creating the opposite.
We were spiraling.
Luckily, I had the presence of mind to pause, pull out my trusty Decomposition Book, and take 15 minutes for my Morning Pages journaling practice. (More on that another time.)
As I let my mind rant and spew, the magical question bubbled its way through my swamp of ill-will and settled gently on the surface of the page:
“What would I choose if I felt safe?”
I didn’t feel safe, mind you.
I mean, rationally, I was totally safe in that moment, sitting in my nice house with a kind human who cares about me deeply.
But my inner alarm bells were blaring danger and I wanted to hide under a rock.
“But what if I felt safe?” The wise voice in my head persisted in its wondering.
I felt my jaw relax a little.
I began to see and feel the possibility that maybe, just maybe, the CRISIS I was defending myself against was more like a mosquito bite than a bullet wound.
As I sat with it a bit longer, I began to feel my authentic urge to move towards my loved one with kindness and care for their pain, instead of guarding myself behind mine.
I finished writing, and did something different: I reached.
It was uncomfortable.
I had to keep repeating the question over and over and over to myself.
But by golly, it absolutely created the results I wanted — and quickly.
Within probably 30 minutes, we both felt much better, and much closer.
I found my capacity to have a simple conversation about what I wanted to change.
It worked that day to repair closeness in an intimate relationship.
And it worked just now inspire creativity and overcome procrastination.
I was sitting on a plane, much delayed, lost in reading old emails and generally not making deliberate choices about where to put my attention.
“What would I choose if I felt safe?” I wondered.
And boom. Suddenly the idea of writing my weekly email (THIS EMAIL!) felt so inspiring that I put my tray table down early to make it so. (shhhh…)
Me and this question are just getting to know each other, but I feel pretty sure it’s a winner.
Maybe you can help me test-drive it and prove it out?
I will leave you with this, and I would love a real reply: “What would you choose right now if you felt safe?”
PS – I’d love to welcome at least 17 more subscribers to this list before the end of the year. Who in your life might enjoy some extra magic in their inbox? Forward this along, will ‘ya? (Or send them straight here to sign up.) Much obliged!
This post was originally sent as an email to the Magic Words of the Week newsletter list. Every week, I share reflections on a word, quote, or phrase I think will help you thrive in your life’s work.