If we want someone’s soul to show up, if we want genuine, mature relationships, we need to provide safe space. Oxford Languages defines safe space as “a place or environment in which a person or category of people can feel confident that they will not be exposed to discrimination, criticism, harassment, or any other emotional or physical harm.” Safe space is to a relationship what water is to a plant. Without it, the life — the functioning, connection, and growth of the relationship — cannot be sustained. Say nothing of adventure and joy. The following are ways to think about safe space and consider where we can provide more of it in our lives, especially with those we hold most dear.
Safe space demonstrates love for the other and giving the benefit of the doubt because of that love.
Safe space includes kind, calm speech and patience for each other as they articulate themselves.
Safe space allows for different perspectives and preferences to be heard and valued.
Safe space does not threaten, make demands, or intimidate.
Safe space does not criticize, invalidate, or blame the other.
Safe space does not name-call or humiliate.
Safe space uses I statements.
Safe space welcomes a back-and-forth dialogue.
Safe space encourages discussion that leads to decisions based on agreement, compromise, and cooperation.
Safe space does not punish the other or withhold affection.
Safe space doesn’t shut down.
Safe space doesn’t give up or abandon.
Safe space is getting to know someone and a willingness to be known.
Safe space honors the individual experience of each person.
Safe space protects the vulnerable parts of one another.
Safe space respects, helps, and supports.
Safe space focuses on the other as much as the self.
Safe space collaborates to solve problems creatively, responding to the desires of all involved.
Safe space requires empathy and compassion.
Safe space commits to trust, forgive, and make amends.
Safe space is dedicated to being there again tomorrow, to continue loving.
There is great freedom in safe space. It is the only setting in which an authentic relationship can survive and thrive. Let’s be intentional about cultivating this essential part of well-being in our lives.
May you be inspired!