During this time of uncertainty, we may be experiencing feelings of despair, loss, and other feelings on that end of the spectrum. However, if we focus on what we can control, we still have the power to obtain stability, or “an anchoring,” within ourselves and through our relationships.
Through this lens, viable resources of safety and security may be closer and more accessible than one may think, but unknowingly overlooked. Family, friends, and community connections can be great resources of support during uncertain times, not only for now but also in the future. According to the dictionary, the definition of safety, is “The state of being safe; freedom from the occurrence or risk of injury, danger, or loss.” The dictionary also lists the definition of security as “Freedom from danger, risk, etc.; safety; freedom from care, anxiety, or doubt; well-founded confidence.” The state that we find ourselves in at the present time may not provide such feelings of safety and security, which is why we must look within ourselves and our interpersonal relationships for the safety and security which we seek.
When safety and security are present, much of the doubt and fear about our well-being and future can be erased. If we find ourselves unable to obtain feelings of safety and security due to the global events occurring at the present time, we may benefit from looking to the situations in which we do have influence.
Many relationships that function in a healthy and thriving way (parent-child, romantic, professional, and friendships), embody many of the same values, such as respect, support, understanding, and acceptance. When these values are present, conversely so is a “safe place” to communicate concerns and the potential to obtain the stability we seek. During these times, it is imperative that we lean in to the strengths that are present in our relationships and/or become intentional about strengthening relationships that need reinforcement.
Now, as much as within our power and locus of control, we can focus on taking our relationships to greater heights. With so much that isn’t under our control during this time in our lives, we can place emphasis on those things that are. We can develop and incorporate routines and activities in our homes and in our relationships that promote bonding and a consistent demonstration of support and understanding, which can help to make a challenging situation (such as this) a bit more manageable. While human nature may have us more inclined to withdraw and completely isolate ourselves (as social distancing and quarantining may seem to be synonymous with isolation), we must continue to seek ways in which to maintain and strengthen our interpersonal relationships.
According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, safety and security are second only to our physiological needs. Keeping this in mind, we can become intentional about our connectedness to one another and ways in which to support one another. During this time of such uncertainty, we can look for ways to pay it forward and strengthen connections, inside our homes and in our communities. Meeting our own and others’ psychological needs, allows us as family members, significant others, citizens, and colleagues to soar with one another, reach great heights together, and become better as a whole.
By Terae Tatum MS, LCPC