Creating a Safe Place – Tools to Transform Trauma After Narcissistic Abuse
A “Safe Place” is a metaphoric imagery state of consciousness that is calm and peaceful. An imaginery place that we can imagine going to in our minds in order to calm ourselves and bring about the de-escalation of emotional arousal.
By creating and going to a safe place when triggered, we bypass the fight or flight responses by our sympathetic nervous system. Our inner dialogue while going to our safe place contains content and perspective that supports low arousal and a feeling of being centered. Our nervous system needs to be able to relax in order to facilitate healing.
A feeling of internal security can be felt regardless of what is going on outside of us; ie: the tirade or emotional outburst of an angry, narcissistic coworker, family member, ex-spouse or boss or any other event that triggers us.
All that’s needed to create this “safe zone” is to develop imagery that we can associate with feeling safe.
What images bring you into a state of relaxation?
When are you feeling most peaceful and safe? Where are you? What sounds do you hear? What temperature is it around you? How do you feel?
Is this somewhere you’ve been before?
Create such an image of this safe place that you engage all of your senses: touch, smell, hearing, taste, etc.
An image that I use is swinging in my hammock overlooking the Caribbean, with the sun shining and the waves gently rolling in below me. This makes me feel very peaceful and safe. I feel the sway of the hammock, hear the waves and feel the sun on my skin as I look at the gorgeous blue sky.
When I am triggered by a memory, I remind myself that I can handle it, that I am able to handle the conflict or stress, keep my cool, and deal with the situation in a good way. I keep telling myself this, and imagining myself doing it while feeling the safety of my Caribbean getaway. It helps me to handle the situation effectively.
In times of stress, trauma, being triggered or having to deal with narcissistic people, ground yourself in your safe place. Go to that place in your mind and immerse yourself in the safety and protection of this place.
This tool allows us to stay present (not disassociate) from an experience while maintaining a relatively calm emotional state. It teaches us that we have within us, the resources that maintain boundaries around our calm emotional state despite the presence of narcissistic or other toxic stimuli.