The Science of Safety
The science of safety explains the way one experiences the world. Through this lens, our perceived level of safety profoundly impacts our health and happiness. The basic idea comes from the Polyvagal Theory, and it has radically changed the way I live my life and approach my clinical practice. It gives us a blueprint for living that is filled with hope and optimism because, when we feel safe, we access the best possible version of ourselves.
Fear is our nemesis; it shapes all our protective habits and hangups. Without fear – or rather the fear of fear – we enter a world where compassion, creativity, curiosity, confidence, courage, calm, connectedness, and clarity lead. Think for a moment. How would your life be different if you had access to even a few of these traits daily?
The science of safety informs my integrative approach to healing and change.
Fear versus safety is universal. This world view helps my conceptualization of all things and explains human behavior in many forms. With this understanding, my work with eating disorders made more sense.
Our food, body, and love (relationships) are all affected when we approach them through the lens of fear. Our culture teaches us to fear food, our unruly bodies, and how our bodies can change the way people respond to us. We, in turn, create protections out of these insecurities that, for some, become a small prison of existence. Breaking free of this trap requires courage, which takes safety. In other words, this is an inside out job.
How do we begin to create safety?
It starts with the nervous system and learning to notice, befriend, and course correct with solutions to calm it. In simple terms, we get really good at practicing stress management. Without a calm nervous system, we will never have the clarity of thought to accomplish our dreams. A stressed nervous system is a reactive and protective system, which creates limiting beliefs. More on this idea later.
Next, we become extraordinarily mindful of those things that make our body feel safe or unsafe. This is a journey of building an owner’s manual for yourself that includes how you feed yourself, how you move your body, and the environment you live in. For instance, learning to balance your blood sugar can profoundly improve your mood and anxiety. Understanding the workings of our body can shift us from fighting against to collaborating with – into a care focus.
Another helpful tip involves conceptualizing inflammation of the body as a protective fear response. In this case, sleep, gut health, and other lifestyle factors prompt changes that are born out of creating safety and not driven by fear of disease.
The science of safety also involves thought management.
Our brain is hardwired to seek out danger and protect us from the worst-case scenario, which ramps up our fear. Learning to manage this computer in our head takes mindful practice, clarity of values, and positive manifestations. Speaking of the brain, our habits are highly protected! Embarking on any behavior change requires a good dose of knowledge, persistence, and coaching.
Lastly, we were built for connections and relationships. Finding and maintaining safe relationships is essential to well-being but requires safety. Learning to apply the science of safety or “the love code” in all your interactions with others not only helps you personally but also makes the world a better place.
All these concepts can be found in my book, Food, Body and Love, but the greatest of these is love and detailed in a self-help manual, Food, Body and Love Companion Workbook. If you need help working through these actionable concepts (most of us), my counseling services or lifestyle coaching program are available by clicking here.
Visit my website to learn more about my counseling, consulting, and coaching services as well as my current courses and recent Safe and Sound Protocol certification.