What makes you feel safe and supported?
This weekend I, with the support of some friends, pushed my self right out of my comfort zone (mentally and physically) and took part in a cold-water immersion experience at The Farm Club in Pickmere. This meant getting up in the hour of five on a rainy Sunday morning to lay in a field doing some guided breathwork before taking a short walk to a lake and immersing myself in the water. Although I know there is lots of evidence on the benefits of this practice, and having friends who swear by it as a key part of their self-care I had a lot of resistance to trying it myself.
Since the experience I’ve been reflecting on what was different this time that allowed me to (literally) take the plunge, where it hadn’t felt possible before. There seemed to be several factors that supported me to take the decision this weekend, including being part of a group, I felt safe with and having someone experienced guiding the practice. I realised that before when I had imagined trying something new, I had spent a long time thinking about the thing itself, rather than how I could arrange support around it and myself. When I shifted my focus away from the fear of discomfort and distress and made space for the things that could bring me safety and stability, suddenly more seemed possible.
Instead of feeling alone with my fear, I was surrounded by kindness and compassion. When I first entered the water and felt my fight or flight system come up, there was someone there to remind me to exhale and let go of tension. There were people who shared their knowledge and experiences to remind me I was safe. There was such vulnerability in being in the water, but there was also connection and peace. From the other side it makes perfect sense that it would be a positive experience, being in nature and near water are huge parts of my self-care and self-compassion, I just needed to feel safe enough to lean into the experience.
So often our drive for safety can lead to us missing out on opportunities for connection, whether that comes from a fear of being seen or of feeling discomfort and distress. The more I understand why I can struggle to be vulnerable, the more I am able to offer it the kindness and compassion that make it possible to find different ways through. I was always going to need a structured and boundaried introduction to dunking myself in a lake, just like I was always going to need people I felt safe with to support me through it. I know now that there is nothing wrong with acknowledging and meeting my needs, in fact, that’s where the true victory is. In knowledge, acceptance, kindness, and compassion. My experience was all the more powerful because I allowed myself to access the support I needed, because I felt safe enough to be vulnerable, because I was willing to risk some discomfort.
What makes you feel safe and supported enough to be vulnerable?