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What Tells You That You are Safe?

Our present moment experience is layered. Not only are we thinking, we're also experiencing emotions, body sensations, bodily impulses, and taking in data from our external environment.

In Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, these layers are referred to as Core Organizers of our present moment experience. The building blocks of each moment from which our perception of what's going on, if we are safe, or if we are in danger is determined.

In therapy, what this looks like is noticing what your body tends to orient to, or pay attention to, and what story that creates about your experience. From there, we can get curious about the history behind the story and whether or not there are other aspect of our experience moment-to-moment that actually tell a different story.

Often, there's a blend of the two. To me, healing, and liberation, is a combination of

1) Grieving the limitations to our safety and Self-determination


2) Getting curious, creative, courageous, even demanding and audacious, with what is possible for our lives (while also, obviously, respecting this right for others as well).

One of the first things we do in trauma therapy, and somatic therapy in general, is identify the things in our experience and environment that can serve as safe, reliable anchors within distress or havens from distress. Because when we are in active distress, or struggle to tolerate distress, things like curiosity, creativity and courage are not impossible to access, but it sure as hell can feel like it. Trauma, in particular, can leave us perpetually on guard for potential danger.

So, here's something for you to get curious about right now:

What in your environment tells you that you are safe, or at least communicates some element of safety to you?

Does being in your house feel safe? Does looking at your cute little doggy offer some semblance of comfort? Are there photos of caregivers or chosen family who you know have your back? Is there something you're proud of that reminds you how capable you are, like an art project or a diploma? Does something make you laugh or feel tremendous joy?

Try this as an ongoing practice. Notice and savor these small things, even for just a few moments, and notice if your new habit of looking for cues of safety, or even joy, offer you a dash more of whatever you need in order to feel less helpless and more capable.

Want to explore how curiosity can help you cultivate organic, sustainable change in your life?

Join me for my workshop Good to Notice on Jan 19, 2022!

Image from Canva.

Ogden, P., & Fisher, J. (2015). Sensorimotor psychotherapy: Interventions for trauma and attachment. (D. Del Hierro & A. Del Hierro, Illustrators). W W Norton & Co.

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