“Raise your hand if your feel 100% safe in this moment?”
I was in a room of about 150 fellow clinicians. We were an audience of doctors, nurses, chaplains, and social workers…only 2 hands went up.
The speaker went on, “That is surprising! Don’t you see that you are 100% safe in this moment?”
For the next half-hour protests about all the things that make us usafe every minute of every day came from every corner of the room.
“What about mass shootings?”
“What about the inevitable financial collapse?”
“Natural disasters are increasing in number and intensity, what about that?”
“Terrorists, protestors, and crazy people are everywhere.”
The speaker persisted, “We have been having this debate for 30 minutes you were and still are 100% safe.”
About five minutes into the debate, I did come to the realization that in that moment I was 100% safe. I was in a room full of fellow caregivers that have devoted their lives to serving others. We were in a safely maintained facility in a safe town. I felt peace wash over my body and my stance loosened. I took a deep breath and felt grateful that I was attending the conference.
For the remainder of the day I learned techniques to reduce the amount of time I allow my body to be in ‘fight or flight’ response, so that even if I were ever in true danger I would be able to access my highest level of assessment and decision making abilities.
A few other key take aways from the day:
* My child is among the safest cohort to ever have existed on earth. Did you know that in the late 17th century 30% of our children born didn’t live 6 months?
* Allowing myself to feel secure in moment-to-moment safety doesn’t mean I should not take reasonable preparedness measures to survive likely crisis I could encounter.
* There is real brokeness in this world, and plenty of it. Yet I am not made stronger to deal with my own primary traumas that will happen to me and people who are relationship with me, by constantly exposing myself to the secondary trauma of remote crisis that I have no meaningful impact on or relationship with. ‘News’ media should be consumed sparingly.
* I am more resilient by engaging and processing the primary and secondary trauma I will (or have) experience and not being detached. However, it is best if I do that engaging and processing from a place of peace and realization that, ‘In this exact moment I am safe.’