Do you feel afraid too much? Do you have difficulty trusting people close to you?
The Safe Place Skill is an important part of Affect Management Skills Training (AMST). The Safe Place Skill and the Container Skill provide a foundation for our future healing and our development throughout our lives. When we lack the skill of trust, we are limited in our work and relationships. Yet when we are able to reclaim our ability to experience authentic containment of disturbing memories and a general feeling of calm, our life changes.
In our early life as a baby, we had the opportunity to develop a secure attachment with our mother. If we formed a secure attachment, our life had a strong psychological foundation upon which to build. In essence, we are developing a sense of safety in our early experience with our mother. Some of us have only a grandmother, father, or foster mom who raises us, but the challenge is still the same. Our task is to develop a healthy sense of safety.
When we feel safe at the appropriate times, we are able to venture out from our mother figure and experience the world independently. If we do experience the sensation of safety when we are in fact safe, it affects how we think and the choices we make. The relationships we develop are different, because we do not feel safe at the appropriate times.
When we have a well developed skill of trust, we are able to identify who is dangerous and who is safe. We can feel sensations in our body that help us distinguish situations and people that are unsafe. This is a skill that can save our life. We need to know who to trust and how much.
There is an important difference between feeling numb or feeling calm or neutral. Some people suffer from Alexithymia which is the inability to recognize emotions and express feelings with words. They feel numb.
We have implicit and explicit memories. When we have an explicit memory, we are aware of the past event and feel the emotions related to the memory. An implicit memory is a real event that we are not aware of as it effects our emotions. We see a dog and our heart beats rapidly, because we were bit by a dog in the past. Yet we may have no idea that we are feeling afraid. This is an example of an implicit memory.
Of course, ninety-five percent of our thinking is subconscious, below the level of the thoughts of which we are aware. Many thoughts are affecting us that are hidden from our conscious mind.
The Safe Place Skill can be used to soothe ourselves in situations that are stressful in daily life. It also can be used to learn to consciously induce the relaxation response. The relaxation response is our body’s ability to calm itself down. Affect Centered Therapy can rapidly enable us to feel safe and contain our worries. In this video, I demonstrate the Safe Place Skill, please watch and learn for yourself: