Recently a dear friend of mine was lovingly reflecting that she heard some insecurity within something I was sharing. She wondered if it were true and/or if it was okay she was pointing that out. Her words came in the form of a video message, so I paused the video and rewound in order to hear that word again.
I felt it through my whole body. My friend’s spot-on reflection helped me to feel the root of where my tender sharing was coming… from the very young part of me who’s primary need is safety.
But my full grown self tells a more nuanced story about safety.
When I am relaxed and grounded, I remember my nervous system’s innate intelligence and know that I can soften in this moment, because my sympathetic (fight, flight, freeze or appease) response will automatically activate when there actual imminent survival threats.
In this more grounded state, I can identify my needs and rest in my ability to do the necessary adulting to care for my basic needs (and beyond).
And when adulting gets hard on my own, I remember and build the courage to ask for help from the network of friends and family who have my back and will show up for me at a moment’s notice.
And I also hold the awareness that regardless of the amount of guards I consciously and unconsciously built up to keep myself “emotionally safe,” I will get hurt. No matter how strongly I hold to my beliefs, they will be challenged and change with time. And ultimately, even when I do so many things to keep my body vital and vibrant, I will die.
My younger self, who has a strong developmental need for security, doesn’t know this yet. All little Nessy knows is that she wants to feel safe and sometimes she feels so alone and life just feels like too much to bear.
We all have many parts of ourselves, activated in different moments for different reasons. But watching over them all is a part of ourselves that I think of as our Soul awareness. This is the aspect of our consciousness that holds a wide lens of life and is able to observe and respond with curiosity, compassion and a deep trust that we will get through this, just as we have gotten through every other moment of our life, one way or another, thus far.
The fear rising up from my young self is like a stop sign, activating this larger awareness and knowing that I can use the tools I have. I can do the practices that help my nervous system reset to the awareness that I am safe.
From here, I can take the little girl out of the driver’s seat of my thoughts and reactions, hold her, comfort her and reassure her that I’ve got this and she doesn’t need to figure anything out.
This kind of inner parenting is a practice. Feeling scared, overwhelmed, out of control or even just a little insecure, isn’t a personal failing – it’s a predictable response to the stress of life and indication to slow down, widen our perspective and get support.
Children, including those that live inside of each of us, need safe spaces. But once grown, those of us who desire to be change makers in our life and in our world, must create and step into spaces where we ask ourselves and others to be brave. As we build our resilience for discomfort and unease, transformation, joy and freedom have space to unfold.
Holding hands with little Nessy, who loves to play with you all,
*There are many practices you can do to build this soul awareness and nervous system resilience. I share videos and worksheets for these practices weekly in our Soul Oriented Patreon community.