“I am safe”
This is a mantra I have used to help me relax. When I repeat these 3 little words, I feel my hips loosen, my stomach relax, and my shoulders melt. This little phrase has helped me reduce my long standing physical shoulder and neck pain and improved my emotional peace.
Safety for me is not necessary my physical safety. It is more about emotional safety, its about being supported, cared for, and loved. My younger years were a bit tumultuous and I had to grow up too soon. When you are young and have to take on adult responsibilities before you are developmentally ready, your sense of safety is rocked a little because you don’t know what you are doing. Relying on myself at a young age is a total double edged sword.
So when I say to myself “I am safe”. I am saying “I am loved”, “I am supported”, and “I have help”, “I am not alone”, “I can relax”, “I can trust”, “I am worthy”. It allows me to take more risks in my life. Risks I have been too scared to take.
But not everyone has the luxury of this physical and mental safety. I am reminded that so many people (especially children) live in communities that are physically unsafe, whether it be because of sub-standard housing conditions or violence.
According to research presented at the 2010 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry “nearly half of all inner-city youth may suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and 30% may be severely clinically impacted by the condition”.
Chidren with PTSD…that is terrible! No child should suffer like that.
Here is an excerpt from an article I read for a graduate paper I wrote on children and stress.
“From an early age, children living in the inner cities are exposed frequently to the use of drugs, guns, arson, and random violence. They witness injury, suffering, and death, and they respond to these events with fear and grief, often experiencing dramatic ruptures in their development. The list of psychological reactions is long and grim: hatred for self, profound loss of trust in the community and the world, tattered internalized moral values and ethics of caring, and a breaking down of the inner and outer sense of security and of reality. They are particularly vulnerable to traumatic stress illnesses and to related behavioral and academic abnormalities (Gardner, 1971;Parson, 1994; van der Kolk, 1987).”
This is a terrible way to live, or should I say survive. And, I would guess, these children are the least likely to get the appropriate professional mental health support, which then just allows the cycle of violence and anguish to continue.
This is not to say all inner cities are like this but I can’t help but think what life must be like for those that do live in this type of hell. Can these people ever say “I am safe”? I do think some people have the strength, supports, and perspectives that allow them to feel loved and supported and happy but I cannot imagine being that strong in such deplorable conditions. I don’t think I could do it.
It just breaks my heart. The impact of this research has never left me. I don’t think it ever will.
I truly hope that someday, every one has an opportunity to feel safe and loved and confident that they can be their best. I hope someday pain will only be a transitional emotion and not make its home in anyone’s heart. I know this is probably not realistic but it feels better to wish good on even the most painful hearts then to think this type of life is okay or tolerable.
I am truly grateful to be able to say “I am safe”.
My heart longs for others to feel this too.
All children should feel safe.
Maybe we can start envisioning a world where this is possible.
It is time to set an intention for our world to be a better place.
May all beings be heathy, happy, loved, and safe.