I was in the grocery store to pick up a few items. I wore my mask and assumed that others would also. Not so. I pushed my cart through the produce section and a very large man yelled at me, “You don’t need a damn mask!” He scared me. I got out of the store quickly. The sign on the entrance said, “Masks required.” About half the people I saw were not wearing masks. I am fully vaccinated, and even got a booster shot. I am protecting others, as well as myself. What if I had a kidney transplant? What if I had a compromised immune system? The what ifs are endless. I should not have to respond to such an unfiltered verbal assault, and to be honest, I was too frightened so I did not respond.
The cases of Covid are going up in our little area. I am being responsible and this is a public health emergency. Hopefully we can all see that. We will all die someday, but if you know there is a vaccine that will provide some protection, why not take it? I watched my mother die gasping for air, and I imagine that being on a ventilator isn’t much fun. I lost an aunt and an uncle to covid. I hope that we all make it through this horrible virus. I hope we care about our fellow citizens enough to do what will help them survive.
Feeling protected provides us with warmth, confidence and security. Feeling wanted leads to feeling safe. Being safe is the absence of beating yourself up or feeling that all that is good in your life is a moment away from vanishing forever. When you are protected, you know deeply that you deserve to live in a safe space and have the happiness that it brings.
To help us be safe, a part of the brain, the amygdala, monitors the environment. Anything unexpected or unfamiliar causes the amygdala to release stresshormones. Though the amygdala may be reacting to something that is harmless, the hormones cause feelings of alarm and the urge to escape. What happens next depends on whether a person is secure or insecure.
Feeling secure is a basic human need in several ways. Firstly, there is the physical security – we need to be protected from the elements and other dangers. But mental security is just as important – we need to feel that we belong and that we have control of our lives, that we are safe.
Being safe is the state of being protected from harm or other non-desirable outcomes. Feeling safe, which is also called psychological safety, means being self-assured that we are not in danger. Having a sense of well-being can’t fully happen if we don’t feel safe first. A lack of psychological safety is a major trigger for many of our unwanted emotions as fear and anxiety, which can really block the pursuit of a healthy and calm mind.
Try to notice how your body responds when you start to feel unsafe. You may feel like your heart is racing, you might feel like you are losing control, or even going into a full panic attack. The reality is that most of the time we are not in real threatening danger, and those reactions are only a sensation created by how our minds perceive the environment to be.
Don’t deny your feelings. Awareness is key. If you feel unsafe, afraid, or anxious, don’t try to fight these feelings. Don’t try to convince yourself you are not scared or anxious, instead, accept and calmly plan how you can shift away from those feelings. Avoid those who do not share your values.
When you feel unsafe, speak with someone, seek support, don’t keep your thoughts to yourself. A human voice can help you calm down, organize your thoughts, and think more clearly on an action plan.
Seek out these who lift you up, share your values, and have an overarching spirit of positivity.