What is emotional safety and why is it important?
Emotional safety is when you feel secure enough to be their most authentic self with their partner in a relationship but also responsible for your own feelings and behaviours.
Emotional safety is a joint and reciprocal effort. When you have emotional safety and are vulnerable, it allows your partner to do the same. It creates a safe space to share how you are feeling with your partner without feeling criticized or judged. Feelings are heard and accepted.
What’s not an emotionally safe relationship?
Threatening to leave frequently
Frequent criticizing of each other
Partners feel unable to say their true feelings
Partner putting you down in front other people
How do you do this?
Strategy 1: Listen without interruption or judgment (active listening)
Listening to your partner is a gift and when life is busy, it’s easy not to make time to properly listen. A healthy relationship involves time to listen to how they are feeling and what they think. You may notice that you want to interrupt their flow to add or to correct small details. Try to avoid this! Unless they are asking you to chime in, focus on hearing their words rather than your response to it.
Strategy 2: Watch their body language and facial expressions
Body language is essential for emotional safety because it is another way of communicating how we truly feel, whether we realize it or not. Our tone, posture, facial expressions, and eye shapes also communicate our feelings even if we do not actually say them. Notice: are their arms crossed, or in an open posture? Do they appear tense or relaxed? You can use this data to know whether to discuss logistics or actually to make some time for them.
Strategy 3: Give your partner the benefit of the doubt
Whatever your partner says, this means removing suspicion, and instead, being curious to understand their motivations for their behaviors on a deeper level. A lot of people’s motivations come from within and are often tied to their past and the baggage they bring to the relationship. Remember that trust is essential for a healthy connection.
Strategy 4: Don’t mind read your partner, ask questions
Don’t assume that you understand or know what your partner is thinking or feeling without asking them first. It’s easy to think we know what they are thinking, when in fact we may be bringing our own fears or previous experiences on to the relationship.
Strategy 5: Foster accountability and follow through
Words followed by actions are very powerful. Following through allows you to build trust with your partner and show your loyalty towards your relationship. This does not happen overnight. Yet, even small steps demonstrate your commitment to the relationship and show that you are holding yourself accountable too. You may also feel like you are exhibiting greater integrity.