Reflective Journal

The quest for emotional safety

Emotional safety is the visceral feeling of being accepted and embraced for who you truly are, what you feel and what you need. Its importance has been truly underestimated in my life to date, but with every rising sun in recent months, my fondness of this concept grows in significance.

Modern literature presents us with the idea to expect nothing and rely on nobody but yourself, but in reality, this isn’t how human existence works. This age-old debate has existed throughout philosophy since the dawn of time; however, my belief stays firmly centred around that of Socrates’, “the greatest pleasure in life is love”, and for me, love cannot be formed in its truest form without emotional safety.

Much like love, emotional safety is abstract. Whilst society might expect that emotional safety is delivered freely through our caregivers, families and friends this is simply not the case. Emotional safety can be fleeting, here one moment and gone the next. It can manifest in a three-second hug, flourish during a four-hour shared hobby, and if fortunate enough through a lifetime with a significant person. However, the ultimate goal, is to find emotional safety within yourself. To trust that you are fully capable of honouring your needs, connecting with yourself when you need it most and hold yourself accountable just enough to learn the lesson and move on when required.

In a recent conversation with my therapist, I was discussing how at times I suffer from guilt expressing my real feelings, we reflected on this idea in depth and how the feelings of guilt have contributed to many of my negative thoughts about myself. It was established that at times throughout my life I have never felt safe expressing my feelings around my family or friends due to the volatile environment I was raised in, however through this conversation I began to reflect on the places, people and activities in which I have learned the value of emotional safety.


My most long-standing friend to date, my friendship with Abi spans over twenty years. I met Abi in primary school, she was quirky, funny and always walked a little on the wild side. We have many private jokes and memories that I will share with my readers over time but for the purpose of this post I will focus purely on the safety I feel both when she is close and when our friendship operates from a distance.

For those that don’t know Abi, she is bright, reminding me of the colour yellow, I can not envisage a day where she wouldn’t be bound to me in some way. We have supported each other through our first heartbreaks, family difficulties and even endured our first girls holiday together. Abi is dependable, beautiful and fierce, but despite her strong mind she never fails to make room for my feelings. She demonstrates juxtaposed ideas effortlessly, and her ability to be directly honest without personalised analysis of your flaws is something I admire deeply.

Through the many moments of distance, university and now on her latest voyage to Dubai, this is a friendship in which I feel most secure. We operate via an unspoken language, there when we need each other most without the need for constant communication. Our friendship is a given, but never taken for granted; a permanent fixture of furniture, without being forgotten; and a treasure that continues to enrich our lives each day.

Anna and Laura

When I met one of my closest friends Anna, I was sixteen, we became friends at a school social event. Anna previously dated someone I ended up dating for over five years and even throughout this relationship we remained in contact and shared a mutual respect for each other despite previous relationship history. Our friendship truly blossomed when I was around twenty-one, we both ended our long-term relationships and leaned on each other for support, laughter and comfort.

We began going out together more often and we learned that we had similar experiences through childhood, our relationships and our friendships. Through Anna I also met Laura, her friend she met at university. Whilst I first I was admittedly insecure about being in a three-way friendship, both these friendships have become staple relationships both together and as individuals I treasure the friendships deeply. Through the many times I have shared with them over the years, the level of emotional safety that they have extended towards me is incomparable. Through our specially commissioned ‘crisis chair’, a comfy seat within the corner of Anna’s living room, we have each taken turns to describe the negative waves of life in which we encounter, creating space for tears, tantrums and even laughter.

My affection for both of them is beyond words, especially in recent months. They have provided me with a comforting shoulder to cry on, proactive guidance, and moments of uncontrollable laughter when I least expected it. I can best characterise these two friendships as entirely organic; there is no room for judgment or jealousy. Through the emotional safety nets we’ve woven around each other, our bond will remain forever unbreakable.


When I was sixteen, I became friends with Isaac through my ex-boyfriend. At first Isaac was acted uninterested in me as I was just his friend’s girlfriend, however over time we warmed towards each other, and he became a pivotal part of my healing after the breakdown of a five-year relationship.

Isaac is now probably my closest, most loyal and loving friend and has been a rock in my life. He has stuck with me through the darkest of my times, he does not judge me for my previous mistakes and has softly guided me to where I am now; happy and healthy, making choices that I am proud of every single day. For those that don’t know Isaac, he is a meticulous man, extremely intelligent, thoughtful, introverted and self-aware. He holds high levels of emotional maturity and is to date the most affectionate human I’ve ever come to know. Isaac is obsessed with his job; he persistently overachieves bagging himself multiple awards through sheer hard work and determination across his academic studies and career, I genuinely believe he is capable of anything he puts his mind to. I would go as far as saying that Isaac is my family, he has provided me with shelter and showered me with love, teaching me everything I understand love to be now. Without this man I would be truly lost.

However, at the necessary times, Isaac has also been my harshest critic. As a human I make mistakes and when I have, he has been there to call out behaviour, explaining with unparalleled clarity why I might be wrong and subsequently providing time with the skills to improve or fix the outcome. The truth is great friendships or relationships require difficult conversations, patience, compromise and most of all they require a shared objective or vision; in this case that being the longevity of the friendship. Through a recent conversation with Isaac, I was delighted to hear that not once, through the many difficulties we have faced, did I ever make him question my love for him or the friendship we share.


I have also found an emotional safety through my colleague at work. Younger than me, cooler than me and beyond doubt much more stylish, over the last year working with Rachel I have learned the emphasis of need for emotional safety. At times Rachel and I have been a little lost, she has leaned on me for advice and vice versa, and at times whilst I have told her things she didn’t want to hear, our closeness has only accelerated because of it. Rachel is authentically her, straight talking and honest; Our level of conversation has reached a depth I didn’t anticipate experiencing. However, the truth is emotional safety cannot be bought, or begged for; some people have the capacity, or they don’t. And with Rachel, this is one of her many admirable qualities.

In summary, emotional safety is an essential skill that, when lacking, can lead to a persistent sense of disconnection from the world. It’s important to practice openness, encourage accountability without self-criticism, and cultivate daily gratitude. Seek to appreciate those who support your authentic self and guide you towards self-awareness, while giving less attention to those who make you doubt the value of vulnerability. We all deserve to feel safe enough to expose our shadows, we all deserve feel at peace.

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