The Power of Safe Spaces

The Power of Safe Spaces

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One of the things I have come to recognise in recent times is the power of safe spaces. Without them, we cannot explore our full potential.

To me, a safe space is somewhere you can explore whatever you want to explore, freely and without consequence. It can be a crash mat when you are learning how to do double somersaults or a safe and secure group environment like Alcoholics Anonymous when you are addressing alcoholism.

In my mission to transform my own community, my focus is largely on creating safe spaces for people to share ideas. It is also about creating communities of people who want to progress those ideas.

Without these spaces and communities, there is little chance that change can take root. You see, social conformity is one of the biggest barriers to change – both in our own lives as individuals, and in the group context, as communities and organisations.

The best organisations in the world tend to create safe spaces for innovation. Within the main part of an organisation, risk aversion is much more likely to exist, which is a barrier to innovation. Companies like Google and Apple have special teams, free from the control and restraints that other teams are under, to allow for expression and experimentation.

We can learn a lot from this. We should all consider how we can create more safe spaces in our lives, so that we can take risks and explore ideas.

To me, this should really apply in the community and government context. What would politicians do if they weren’t exposed to constant judgement from the media and the population? I think the outcomes would be different from what they are now.

We live in a world where very few people project their real selves, for fear of judgement. The creation of safe spaces is key to allowing new shoots to grow. And those shoots need to be protected until they become strong enough to survive on their own.

Look at the education system’s focus on the right and wrong answer, rather than being a safe space for children to makes mistakes, learn and explore freely, and you can see. That lack of space to explore means that kids aren’t free to find out who they really are. I believe this is significantly contributing to the explosion in mental health problems in children and adults.

You only have to look at Whisper and Secret – two apps gaining a lot of traction right now. They allow people to share thoughts anonymously, so we are starting to see statements that would never be expressed in normal conversation. The gap between what people say and what they really think is widening all the time – which is a problem for everyone. Safe spaces like these allow us to learn how to say what we want – and see what reactions we get – free from the fear of being judged for it.

I create a lot of safe spaces in my own life, to learn and explore. I look forward to my upcoming trip taking 20 people to Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert. I see how that event consistently transforms the lives of people who attend, because of its policy of radical inclusion. To some, it may seem like a hedonistic party in the desert, but to me, it is so much more than that. It is an opportunity for everyone to explore themselves without judgement. Which can be hugely valuable.

What’s interesting to me is how the use of safe spaces will develop in the future. Will individuals, communities and governments start to understand that the best way to encourage ideas is to create safe spaces to allow those ideas to develop? Will the education system start to understand that its role is to provide a safe space for kids to explore and create ideas? I can’t wait to see the answers to these questions.

The question for you is: how can you create safe spaces in your own life to allow for greater exploration?

I would love to hear your stories of how you have used and/or created safe spaces to help you transform your life, community or organisation. Please share in the comments section below.

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  1. For me, creating a safe space has become more about controlling my time/location than about creating a specific space.

    When I first started seeing Marc I wanted to get free but was in the office everyday which was killing my natural creativity as I had no outlet as I had no real time to express myself.

    Fast forward a couple of years and I’m in the same job but with total control of my time/location 4 days per week which allows me time to do my own things around work.

    This freeing of time has allowed me to “move into my natural flow” which is creating things and all of a sudden the magic has stated happening, people, opportunities etc

    So for me, it was about being home more as what feels safer than home? So if you’re not sure how to create the space you need perhaps controlling your time could be what you need instead.

    Food for thought.

    • Good to hear from you Skye. I am glad things are going well for you!

    • The purpose of lost and stolen laws is to remove the "it was lost" defense to failure to comply with firearms reiartsgtion and confiscation laws.This ain't about blaming the victim ( although it does that as well ). It's about cementing up the cracks in the wall before the assholes have enough votes to try to close the prison gate.

    • Well, you know that I love frosting, but if it doesn’t taste like anything other than sugar, I’m going to be disappointed. I wish they could do a little better than big hunks of sugar. Not at sugar is bad, don’t get me wrong, but there’s so much potential there.

    • That’s the fun of it. If someone cares that much – let them vote to let us know!!Quite frankly I thought JZ and her peeps would flock here for the other poll

  2. Love it! Most people don’t create or have a safe space/quiet space. With everything that goes on in our lives, that is a MUST. You have to take care of your mental state of mind in order to do everything you want to do. That is not selfish.
    One of the most rewarding things for me, is being able to help people get out of the daily grind. That is so very rewarding! Love it when they realize they have enough cashflow from their Real Estate, they are putting money in their retirement account and they are teaching their children to do the same. They are financially safe!

  3. Our relationship is the safe space. We’ve somehow managed to each hook up with another ‘anything is possible’ person. As a consequence, we rarely waste time talking about drapes or house prices – we talk about how we can change the World. It’s resulted in many ventures and adventures. A great way to live!

  4. Tony Trenker says

    Safe spaces (not including group circles like AA etc) are for people who cannot overcome their fear of judgement or who are not prepared to take risks and be accountable for their actions!

    You ask: “What would politicians do if they weren’t exposed to constant judgement from the media and the population?” Terrible things! Visit North Korea.

    It’s like starting a business – most get positive feedback from their friends and colleagues, but if you want to succeed you need to expose your ideas to others for judgement and ‘negative’ feedback. Getting accurate and valid ‘negative’ feedback is so much more productive that ‘positive feedback’. You just need to work outside your safe box and be open.

    That said, you can’t beat a bit of close support as in a close relationship with someone. I’m all for those sort of safe spaces. More like safe bases or retreats really where anything goes.

    • I am by no means talking about staying the comfort zone. I am talking about finding ways to leave the comfort zone in a safe way. That makes you more likely to leave it.

      A safe space for a business might be a small test or a pilot away from the core so that it won’t threaten the reputation of the business overall.

      As for politicians I was not suggesting a safe space from the term vote but more a safe space from the daily noise of judgement that over-influences decision making. How could they try and test ideas to see what public opinion is before launching them properly? Would they take more positive risks that way?

      Ultimately we learn by falling over. I am suggesting that if you want to go and learn something then first look for the padded room….

      Does that make sense?

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