“I’ve been alone my whole life.
Even when I’m surrounded by others, I feel separate. I’m constantly lost, scared, worried.
I guess it has to do with feeling like no one will understand me.
Sometimes I wish I had a broken arm or something physically wrong with me so I could say, ‘That’s why. That’s why I’m this way.’
But I don’t have that, so no one knows why I’m so scared, shaky, anxious, depressed, you name it. I’m all those things. You talk about safety and being in the present, but I don’t know what that is at all.”
“We’ve worked together for a while now,” I say to my client Maddy, “What’s it like with me? In this moment with me, now?”
Maddy looks up at me, shy and angry at the same time, “Yeah. Mostly I do. That scares me too. I wonder what you’ll do to hurt me, or when you’ll go away.”
I nod. “Of course you have those fears, those worries. That happens to everyone when they’ve been disappointed, hurt, or betrayed by other people.
The past experiences cloud and influence this moment. It takes time to sort it out, and to trust.
It’s important to take the time we need. The more we build a solid foundation now, the easier it will be later on.
I don’t need you to trust me or feel safe with me if it’s not right for you.
Part of our work together is creating room for you to be with that distrust and find new ways to interact with others where you feel cared about, understood, and safe.”
We all long to love and be loved—it’s sort of the universal currency of being human.
Yet, the pain we’ve endured habituates us to keep ourselves “safe” by shutting off the natural longing for contact and connection.
As another client, Jean said: “I could feel little droplets of compassion, but I don’t know why I kept drifting back into the normal state of being separate from others, staying in my space even though it felt good to make eye contact and hear what people said. To feel connection for a second or two, but then something in my body would go back and it’s almost like we’ve had a few drops, and that was all I could take.”
Everybody needs to feel safe, warm, connected.
That longing to feel better, to be reassured, to not be alone, to feel cared about is native to our physiology, even before our psychology asks for it.
When any human being suffers they want comfort.
The body, perhaps not the wounded personality, seeks warmth, reassurance, closeness, wants to feel protected. Connection—when it is safe, respectful, and caring—eases suffering, letting us know we’re not alone.
We want our suffering to end.
We want to be out of pain.
To do this requires a multi-pronged approach to healing, to go gently and compassionately into the heart of that suffering while holding a larger field of possibility.
This is a perspective of safe connection, where ruptures are repaired, and we find ourselves able to trust our inner motivations and wisdom.
Healing comes as an inner landscape of ease, playfulness, and relaxation is practiced and cultivated, one in which warmth flows and self-compassion is cultivated.
It becomes easier to be seen, without fear of being disappointed or crushed by negative blowback.
Healing encourages receiving a “few droplets of compassion” as they flow in, learning to retain those droplets, savoring them, over and over and over again as they nourish the inner field in which they fall.
This allows us to meet our protector parts with kindness and care, something many parts of us have always wanted.
When the fear of the negative arises we return to the practices, facilitating a new pathway of well being while at the same time respecting the fear.
Developing a safe base is possible, despite our protests that since it didn’t ever happen, and we can’t imagine it, therefore it can never be.
Attachment theory, coupled with yogic psychology and practices, offers a way to give each of us a chance to build solid ground inside and between yourself and others.
For any of us who have been chronically neglected, abandoned, betrayed, or traumatized, trust is hard to come by, yet it is the main threshold we cross in order to heal our hearts, let alone our body and mind.
It’s in courageously stepping toward safety and trust that we create a new secure base to reorganize our inner worlds.
Here’s to you listening to your own longing for more and taking those steps toward a more satisfying life.