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Cues of Safety - Where are you?

It is very difficult right now for my nervous system to see and understand cues of safety. There are cues of danger coming from everywhere - the pandemic, the financial implications, friends and family being in distress, favorite restaurants possibly closing etc.

The familiar, the consistent, the ”normal” it’s all gone. Being a business owner I am responsible for the health and well being of my business but it’s not a business without my staff so my worries extend beyond my own family to my staff and their families. And I’m a therapist. So I’m seeing clients via telehealth (thankful for) and hearing and supporting them through their worries (more cues of danger).

I often use visuals in my therapy sessions and I talk about how parents are like an anchor and kids are a boat and most of the time they just need to know the anchor is there they don’t need it every minute. However when a storm comes they need to know the anchor is steadfast and strong and not flailing like the boat in the waves. Most parents do this very well because their own anchor is their spouse or sibling or friend and they are there when they need them. This pandemic has put everyone into a storm and the need for anchors, much like our healthcare system, is overwhelmed and the accessibility of anchors is scarce. We are all now the boats in the middle of the storm.

So how do we seek out cues of safety purposefully? How do we know our anchors are steadfast and available and not flailing in the waves with the boat? We are even being ordered to NOT seek out some of our anchors and that by doing so we are creating danger.

Anchors aka cues of safety still available to us - family we are quarantining with, food, music, nature, games, laughter. We have to remind our overworked nervous systems it will be ok again. But how?

It is very hard to recall and think about these options - my Owl (Cortex/thinking brain) has flown away, my hippo (memory) is under the water and my Tiger (survival system) is tired.

I have been listening to the safe and sound protocol (SSP) one of our brain training programs because this is what it was designed to do - send signals and cues of safety to our nervous system. So if all I can get my tired brain to do is put on headphones and listen then I will do that and I’m thankful for that.

I am sending everyone hopes and wishes for resilience and the ability to find the anchors and cues of safety when needed, be someone’s anchor and seek out an anchor - because we all need them not just the kids.

And happy birthday to my son Chad! Virtual hugs to you as you are an anchor for your little family and our community during this crisis. I hope you find some safety and peace and I’m still an anchor for you if needed. Love you! Amy Reamer, LMFT, RPT-S

aka wife aka mom aka Gigi aka therapist aka boss aka anchor aka human

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