by Victoria VIKI Cumberbatch, @adventuresOFcommunity
In a world filled with uncertainties and challenges, safety is a foundational need that extends far beyond the physical realm. Many of us tend to think of safety in terms of protecting ourselves from external threat, yet the
re exists a more subtle and profound form – psychological safety.
With some experience in holding spaces [breathwork and women’s circles] and education in becoming trauma informed, the idea was introduced to me that safety cannot be guaranteed. As many of us have heard parroted in nearly all spaces, from classrooms to psychedelic integration gatherings. Through the lens of being trauma informed, safety must be co created. The onus must be on each person to not only tend toward inclusivity and curiosity, but also to empower every individual to vocalize their needs as they arise. It must be a partnered effort, else the common communication woes will arise [resent, mistrust, shame, etc].
Being partners in psychological safety involves nurturing an environment where individuals can challenge, contribute, request support, debate, and make mistakes without fear. It's a practice that empowers us to find and maintain harmony within ourselves and with others. By consistently neutralizing our autonomic nervous system (ANS), we can begin to make serious progress in creating new neural pathways that allow us to move more quickly from states of fight/flight/fawn/freeze to the beauty of stasis.
Basically, when humans feel safe, their nervous systems support the homeostatic functions of health, growth, and restoration, while they simultaneously become accessible to others without feeling or expressing threat and vulnerability. Feelings of safety reflect a core fundamental process that has enabled humans to survive through the opportunistic features of trusting social engagements that have co-regulatory capacities to mitigate metabolically costly defense reactions. [Volume 16 - 2022 | https://doi.org/10.3389/fnint.2022.871227]
In this post, I’ll delve into the importance of co creating psychological safety as well as a few ways to do so within your families to your professional teams, and everywhere between.
If you prefer video over text!
A safe space encourages individuals to step out of their comfort zones and embrace challenges, often found when we step just outside our comfort zone. When we know that we won't be judged or criticized harshly for our attempts, we become more willing to take risks. This willingness to confront challenges fosters personal growth and innovation.
Cultivating Authenticity + Vulnerability
Co creating safety allows us to be authentic and vulnerable; Brené Brown would be thrilled! Authenticity enables us to express our true selves, while vulnerability fosters deeper connections with others. Which, with this current epidemic of loneliness, is clearly what many of us yearn for but may not say aloud. It's through vulnerability that we build trust and form meaningful relationships.
Welcoming [Real] Inclusivity
Safety in a co created space means welcoming new perspectives and inclusivity. When we open our [physical, mental, emotional] doors to diverse voices and ideas, we get to expand our horizons and enrich our understanding of the world.
Clarity in roles, plans, north stars (goals), and communication norms is essential in co creating safety. When everyone understands their part and how they fit into the bigger picture, it reduces confusion and perpetuates a sense of purpose.
An inclusive environment is one that is keeps an accessibility lens. Co creating safety means ensuring that as many people as possible have the tools and resources they need to participate fully. It's about breaking down barriers that prevent participation; most of the time people want to participate, they also simply want the invitation.
Some Outcomes of Psychological Safety
When psychological safety is nurtured, it leads to a range of positive outcomes, like:
Information Sharing: People freely share their knowledge, experiences, and ideas, leading to better decision-making, problem-solving, and innovation.
Satisfaction and Meaning: A safe environment is more likely to bring satisfaction and a sense of purpose to those who are part of it.
Belonging: Individuals feel like they belong, reducing feelings of isolation and loneliness.
Engagement: Engaged individuals are more likely to be motivated, productive, and creative.
Learner Mentality: A safe space encourages a learner mentality [aka growth mindset], where individuals are open to new information, experiences, and especially feedback.
Value: Co creating safety enables individuals to recognize the unique value they bring to a group or community.
In a world that can often be chaotic and challenging, the power of co creating psychological safety cannot be underestimated. It's a practice that empowers individuals to transcend fear and anxiety, harmonize their autonomic nervous systems [a selfless act when looking at the bigger picture], and find a sense of unity with others. By embracing challenge, authenticity, inclusivity, clear communication, and accessibility, we can create environments where individuals thrive and grow, leading to a more harmonious and connected world.
Hey, I’m Viki and I a woman of many facets. The quick version is, I curate community through connection, collaboration, and creativity. I bring people together to create and connect as a community consultant, I bring people together to contribute to, and belong within a cohesive team with workshop design&facilitation, I empower women to course correct the north star of their compass, dust off their innate toolkit, and reposition their crown as a transformation coach, and I also offer somatic release through holotropic style breathwork.
To find out more, start here.