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| By Wellvyl Media Editorial

Since grade school, we have heard the phrase “safe space”.  Usually totted in school hallways and then reaching out to public places, whenever people are called to join together to create a community of work, learning, or doing.   


But what exactly is a safe space?  If we think back to our school days we were told it was a place where everyone would feel comfortable to be themselves.  Yet, the supports set up to create a safe space don’t quite create an atmosphere for that. Arbitrary statements like “one mic” (ie one person speak at a time), every opinion matters and be nice are an idea for creating these spaces but in reality setting generic understandings of manners and passing them off as a space for people to feel “safe” to be themselves it doesn’t really equate.


It's a bit presumptuous to say we can create this space for others.  What we can do though is create a brave space for people to feel comfortable to be themselves.   In studies of brave spaces, the goal is the same but the journey is more supportive. Brave spaces ask people to take steps to understand themselves and others better.  


In the current state of our world, it is critical that we all reach deeper to create spaces of braveness as opposed to a false sense of safety (which only really allow a dominant voice to feel “safe”).  Check out a few tips below to help you establish a mindset of brave space in your own life.


Seek to understand opposing viewpoints; continue rather than stop the dialogue

Ask clarifying questions, or simply say ‘can you tell me more?’  or use ‘ I hear what you’re saying and’ as opposed to ‘ but’ to explain your perspective and learn more (as opposed to jumping to conclusions or shutting down.)  Understanding that this may mean revisiting the topic at a later date.


Own your intention and your impact

At times our intention of something we say or do does not match the impact it had on the other person(s).  We must own both what we were intending to do and the actual impact it had without defense but through a lens of seeking to understand the perspective


Examine your personal choice to engage in the challenge

When you choose to (or not to) engage in a topic ask yourself why.  Be mindful of the reasons you are choosing to disengage as well as the privileges you might carry that allow you to “tune out” instead of “tune in”


Mindfulness of different ways to demonstrate respect  to others and self

Be aware of what you and others need and how to respect, even if there is differing opinion, can be present.


Acknowledge the discomfort that is usually associated with the challenge to an individual’s belief or thoughts by reflecting on how the challenge may actually threaten the privileges of one’s group membership and the deeper root of defensiveness

Instead of shutting down in times of discomfort we focus on reflecting (inwardly/ outwardly) on defenses we might feel, especially as they relate to the greater connection to the societal oppression of groups of people and our positionality


Accept you cannot control the actions/reactions of others

Especially in times of discomfort, we tend to want to have a sense of control over others actions/ reactions.  We must honor each other’s truths and instead lean on seeking to understand and focusing on our own reflection, specifically as to why we want to control