Yep I am starting with a controversial question. What if, when someone says something to us and we don’t feel safe, it’s not them making us unsafe? Stay with me.
What I am not talking about is when we are being harassed, bullied, coerced or controlled. That is not ok. That is when safety does not exist.
What I am talking about is when we get triggered by the content, the timing or things not being fair that someone presents us. And it’s painful to listen to. It’s painful to understand the role we may have played in the scenario or even reacting the way we did.
If you want to reflect on times where you have been triggered, there are two main emotional states that can stop us from being open. It’s when we fall into blame or denial.
We blame others for the situation or for our response. ‘It’s your fault we are in this situation.’ ‘I’m only yelling because you’re frustrating me’. Or self-blame like Silas (the albino Priest) from the DaVinci code who would physically whip himself to pay for his sins.
When we are in denial we never did it, never saw it. There is nothing I need to own or look at. It’s not me it’s you. We don’t get curious and ask questions to understand. Fingers in our ears because it’s too hard to acknowledge the role we may have played. Feels too painful. It could be someone tells you you are to controlling or too passive. You don’t listen or you’re not organised. Whatever it is. It hurts. So we blame or deny.
Both are defensive responses. We are defending and protecting ourselves because looking at the whole picture is something we are not comfortable doing, whether we are conscious of this or not.
When I was learning how to debrief the 360 tool the Leadership Circle, we spoke about the power of self-awareness. Bob Anderson, who’s the Founder of the tool, says it’s so important to identify your behaviours. Why?
‘If you can’t see them, they will control you.
If you see them, you can control them’.
I love Will Smith’s take on when stuff happens to us; ‘It’s not our fault that bad stuff happens to us. But it is our role to fix it’. If we are in blame or denial we stay in drama and find it hard to move forward.
After all, life is a dance. Between ourselves and many others. When we can step into learning our part, then we get to build better, deeper relationships. We become less stressed because we are not holding on to unhealthy emotions. We make smarter decisions because all ideas are on the table. It’s easier.
So sometimes, just sometimes, the safety is about what we are doing to protect ourselves. Only you can answer that.
PS: Want to talk about our ‘Working as One’ program? How to create high performance teams and workplaces (and give your team the tools I talked about in this blog). Just send me a direct message with “lets chat” and we’ll reach out and set up a time to talk.