SALT LAKE CITY — Have you noticed the way the coronavirus pandemic is making you feel wary and unsafe around other people?
You may be seeing other humans as a huge threat to your well-being. Though this sensation is especially noticeable right now, this is a tendency of human nature that all of us experience (to a lesser degree) every day, and especially with the people we love most.
As a master life coach, I teach people are haunted by two subconscious fears, the fear of failure (that you are not good enough) and the fear of loss (that you aren’t safe). Every human on the planet is fighting these same two fears/beliefs every day, and this means we all function in a fear state most of the time.
A fear state means you feel generally unsafe in the world, and this feeling makes it seem like every person around you is a threat. These people could take from you, mistreat you, take from the quality of your life, and/or make you feel like a failure, and this is especially true about the people closest to you.
Your relatives, children, and spouse or partner have more power to hurt you more than anyone else. They know your faults and flaws and the shame you have around them. They know how to push your buttons. You also care what they think of you, which means insults or slights can hurt worse than if the same offense happened with a stranger. You are much more prone to take slights from loved ones personally.
Assess your relationship
Feeling unsafe with a family member can be a great obstacle to your happiness. You cannot have a close, rich, fulfilling, intimate relationship with someone you don’t feel safe with. Ask yourself these questions to check the safety level in your relationship:
- Can you discuss any topic and feel safe from being made fun of?
- Do you feel safer if you avoid conversation?
- Can you make mistakes or forget things and know you won’t be ridiculed or teased about them?
- Do you feel like someone in your life is always on the lookout for mistreatment, so you walk on eggshells trying not to offend them?
- Do you have a relative who often gets offended or defensive easily and blames you for things you did or didn’t do?
- Is there an unspoken contest going on between you and a relative to prove who treats who? Is it a subconscious win when you can prove they are worse to you?
- Do you have to lie on occasion because telling the truth isn’t safe?
- Do you and a relative make disparaging comments about one another in public or private?
- Are you quick to be offended or feel wronged by someone in your life? Do you call them out when you feel mistreated? Does this happen often?
If you don’t feel safe in a relationship or are possibly making someone else feel unsafe with you, there are some things you can do — even if you are the only person willing to change. I would also highly recommend you seek out some professional help. A professional can help you heal the trust and love in a relationship much faster than you could on your own.
(Note: The suggestions in this article are for dealing with garden variety unsafe feelings in your relationships, not situations that involve abuse. If you feel unsafe because you experience emotional, mental or physical abuse, you must seek help and not settle for the suggestions below.)
Here are some tips for increasing safety in most relationships:
- Learn to be a cure for the other person’s core fear. Everyone is afraid of both failure and loss, but each person is dominant in one fear. If the person you are struggling with is fear-of-failure dominant, they need lots of validation about their value, gifts and talents. If they are fear-of-loss dominant, they need control and reassurance that they are safe and all will be OK in their world. You cannot fix their core fear (only they can do that), but you can certainly help them by reminding them they are safe.
- Be a good listener. When you show someone that you can set your feelings aside, be quiet and work on just understanding them, this makes them feel safe with you. Listen to understand, not just to prepare what you are going to say back. Show them you are a safe place to talk through what they are feeling without judgment or shame.
- Lean on God (or another higher source). Practice choosing to trust that nothing happens that God can't use for your education and growth. Everything that happens to you can serve you in the end. This will make you feel more bulletproof and invulnerable in the world.
- Understand that when someone is upset with you, it is usually not about you. It is most often about that person’s own fears and insecurities. These are usually insecurities they have had long before you came around, so they must do the work to heal them.
- When someone is quick to find fault in you, they are probably suffering from a fear they aren’t good enough. If they can cast you as worse, that can temporarily make their ego feel better. When they become angry at you, this usually means they are deeply unhappy with themselves and are projecting their pain onto you. Remember, all bad behavior comes from a person’s fear about himself or herself, and it is sometimes a request for love. Knowing this will help you to have more compassion and less anger.
- Create a safe place where the important people in your life can make mistakes and apologize. Be willing to forgive offenses and allow others to be imperfect students in the classroom of life because you want permission to be the same. Establish healthy boundaries, but have compassion for mistakes.
You can do this.
This article is not meant to give advice concerning domestic violence situations. If you or a loved one is experiencing domestic violence, we encourage you to reach out to any of the following resources for help:
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