Creating Safe Social Spaces To Thrive Personally
Disclaimer : These are observations made from counseling sessions and shared to create awareness towards supporting Mental Health.
Setting healthy boundaries and applying them consistently in daily life leads to creating two ends of the spectrum either you are supported or essential part of supporting others.
How does one then create a space that is private , secure and brings you calmness to thrive personally. Knowing the individuals whom you include in your safe place and so do they.
The sharing between individuals in this space or like some experts call it trust circle . In the circle we are open , non judgmental and forgiving –
First always ask the other person , if they are available to hear and also please be upfront if you can be fully present when they want to share. Taking consent makes it easier for equal emotional sharing rather than over burdening each other.
Lastly keep the trust of non disclosure maintained and the sovereignty of individuals to not be a part of it if during a life phase they themselves are feeling challenged to cope with scenarios. This respect towards each other keeps the circle a space of bonding on ones own terms and thrives the value of each other in our lives long term.
Acknowledge the sharing – make sure the other knows you are hearing them and they are hearing you (e.g. make eye contact and if appropriate physical contact; repeat what they are saying and acknowledge it).
If the sharing is happening in-person and both of you are comfortable with each other’s physical presence. Do deep breathing exercises to ground yourself in the moment and create an awareness within the present that is helpful for connecting , communicating and caring ( responding ) as the other person needs in that moment.
Appreciate the person who is sharing for example ; “ I appreciate your sharing, thank you for entrusting me” – “ I can understand how hard it must have been , thank you for sharing”
Processing –Acknowledge how it feels for yourself if you are listening to the person – for example “ I feel it is emotion that you are feeling , I need time to process what you have shared could I come back to you “ – “ I didn’t know I would feel like emotion you are feeling , I am glad you shared but I don’t have anything to add to this , thank you for sharing I will get back to you when I have processed it “
Link what has been shared back to creating equally sharing and this safe space? Circle of trust being that space that allow those in it to speak to how deep emotion motivates us and moves us to act.
Follow-Up – In personal circle of trust and creating safe places , following up is also important .
- Asking how they are doing after sharing
- Getting back on the topic if during the conversation you felt it was difficult to process.
- Being clear that you are hearing them out , but you are not professionally trained to support , encouraging them to visit a counsellor/ psychologist to help them effectively process their emotions in the present life phase.
- Disclosing to these close people if you yourself are seeking professional mental health support so that they are aware that their role is of social support.
The challenges of maintaining such a circle of trust –
Relationships , friendships and even partnerships can end even with the best of our efforts that require individual maturity and morality to not share anything with other that was shared in the circle of trust.
Always being aware that by sharing in that moment you showed your vulnerability so did the other person and beyond that meet each other empathetically to accept, acknowledge and be aware that everyone at some point struggles to cope with challenging life scenarios.
If the other individual re shares i.e. gossips what was hared in the trusting equation, you can communicate your disapproval and set a boundary of not interacting in the personal equation and space with them. Yes! it is a hard thing to face removing a person from your circle of trust, but if the trust is broken despite being clear of non-sharing agreement it is better to move away from close interaction with such people.
The Golden rule of safe places is being trusting, communicating your needs, responding to others needs and keeping the confidentiality and trust as a non negotiable in the foundation of our safe place.
For creating a circle of trust within your family or friend group , we at Tatava Studio Simplifying Wellness conduct group sessions and can facilitate it for you with sharing referrals to other counsellor/psychologists to safeguard trust and confidentially within the group setting.