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CREATING SAFE SPACES: HOW TO BE MORE INCLUSIVE IN THE LANGUAGE WE USE

February 5, 2024by Lauren0

In the current political climate, many people feel isolated and unsafe expressing their views and disempowered that advocating for what they believe in will fall on deaf ears. No matter what your political beliefs are, one thing is clear…

We all need to feel safe in our right to exist as we are and know that we are loveable!

We need to trust that we have the power to make the best decision for ourselves that we can with the knowledge and resources we have without fear of judgement!

We have all to some extent or another been impacted by trauma. It occurs when we face a threat to our lives or sense of who we are, and often leaves us feeling powerless. Relationships are a common source of trauma, yet paradoxically they also serve as a primary avenue for healing.

If you want to create a safe space in relationship here are a few tips on how to do so in a way that honors the humanity of yourself and others:

1. Validate how someone feels regardless of whether or not you agree with the reason. We all listen to one another better when we feel heard. By showing this respect to others, you open the door to respectful conversations. Understanding or agreeing is not necessary to supporting someone where they are at. You may be tempted to find a way to “fix” the feeling, but hold back the urge…the problem solving comes later.

2. Ask someone what they wish to be called by you. Whether we are referring to pronouns, given names, chosen names, or nicknames; honoring what someone wishes to be called is a way of showing respect. When you call someone what you prefer to call them, shorten, or mispronounce someone’s name you are telling them that their identity is unimportant to you. Just as I noted above, agreement and understanding are not necessary to validating someone as they are, and validation opens the door to communication.

3. Use choice-based language. What do I mean by this? Instead of saying “Do X, Y, Z,” acknowledge that you do not have control over any one else’s choices and offer requests as an invitation. This does not mean that choices are without consequences. In the context of parenting, this may look like asking curiosity questions such as “what do you think is the best time to go to sleep so that you feel rested when you wake up tomorrow morning?” or “what do you need to bring with you today so that you don’t get wet in the rain?” In the context of adult relationships, this may look like “I would love to spend X amount of time with you doing Y, but I respect your choice if you have other plans.” Again, this does not mean that you have to agree with someone’s choices.

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