Now is the Perfect Time
A Workshop Curriculum
The SOAR Foundation
An Original Work of Non-fiction
By David G. Yurth
All Rights Reserved
Creating Safety For Ourselves and Others
This is the fourth in a series of twelve exercises you will be asked to complete before attending the workshop at the SOAR Foundation’s Awakening Youth Leadership Center. The purpose of this exercise is to provide an opportunity for you to discover what it feels like to be safe and learn how to create safety for yourself and others.
The essence of our willingness to take any risk is the extent to which we feel safe about being engaged in the process, any process. The ‘approach – avoidance’ and ‘risk – return’ equations are at work in our lives all the time. The fact of the matter is that the only way we can learn is by making mistakes. It has been truly said that the primary reason we are on the planet is to learn everything there is to know about mortality. We do that by attempting to perfect any number of skill sets, making mistakes, correcting the mistakes and attempting them again. We do this repeatedly until we have mastered each important skill set well enough to use it effectively. You don’t learn how to play tennis by reading a book – at one point or another, you have to pick up the racquet and learn how to use it. It’s just the way we are engineered.
In our culture, the making of mistakes is not tolerated very well. When we make mistakes, we are jeered at, made fun of, demeaned, ridiculed, punished, shamed and ostracized, sometimes by those we need to rely on, trust and respect the most. We learn how this feels very early in life, as soon as we become cognizant of the distinction between ourselves and others. We make up what it means about us when we make mistakes by concocting a story to explain the way people treat us. After a while, we believe the story we make up about ourselves and each other without question. We live our whole lives as if the story is true. By the time we are adolescents, we don’t even remember where the story came from – it becomes so much a part of us that it simply plays in our normal, simple-minded, everyday awareness as if it were on auto-pilot. It is no wonder, then, that the way we learn to view ourselves and others is perverse, judgmental, punitive and exclusive. We’re all acting out stories about ourselves that are totally untrue and treating each other as if they were.
We cannot erase this story from our experience – it is so deeply embedded in our way of perceiving and interpreting our experience that it is inextricably woven into our sense of self. But we can reframe it so that it no longer misinforms the way we view ourselves and each other. One way to do this is to discover what it feels like to be truly safe. When we have mastered the skills needed to make ourselves safe – and no one else can do this for us but ourselves – then we can learn how to make others safe. And that is where the real healing of the planet begins.
In this exercise, you are asked to consider each of the following topics, concepts and ideas. Do this in the context of trying to recall a time in your life when you personally experienced each of these kinds of safety in your own life. You don’t have to write about these topics if you don’t want to, but examine them when you can take a quiet moment to ponder without being distracted.
1. Write a definition of safety in terms of what it means for you to be safe. 2. What is unconditional love? What is it not? How do you distinguish between these two notions? 3. Rising to Nobility – what does it mean to treat yourself and others with dignity and respect. 4. Making a Zero Exit Commitment – recall doing whatever it took to keep a promise to yourself and/or others, no matter what. 5. Engaging at 100% – remember a time when you were able to remain totally focused on the task at hand without allowing anything to distract you. 6. Listening Effectively – recall a time when you paid such close attention to what others were saying or doing that you could feel what they felt, know what they meant, and viscerally share in their experience. 7. Maintaining confidences – what does it mean to be trusted to know something very private and personal about someone and doing whatever is needed to maintain the confidence? When and under what conditions should such confidences not be shared? How did you decide when to keep the secret or make a disclosure to others? 8. Suspending Judgment – when was the last time you allowed yourself and others to be totally genuine and authentic without judging, shaming, disrespecting or ostracizing? What are you morally or ethically obliged to allow into your personal space? How do decide what to allow and what to reject? What behavior do you display when you make one decision or the other? 9. Dispensing Kindness & Compassion – what is the difference between being ‘kind’ and being ‘nice’? Why do we resonate with one and immediately distrust the other? What does this tell us about the way we treat ourselves and others? When was the last time you acted out an unanticipated, totally spontaneous urge to do something genuinely kind or compassionate?
Record any thoughts you want to preserve about the exercise. Write about the times you have felt most safe, nurtured and cared for. How did it feel? What made it work? Are you willing to allow it for yourself in the measure and with the same grace that you insist on dispensing it for others? What do you need to do in order to feel safe? Consider all the things others do to help make you safe, express gratitude for your abundance and let it be.