Feeling Unsafe as an Invitation to Expand
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Welcome to Devotional Anarchy, a podcast about intimate embodied leadership that is radically human, honest AF and thereby inherently disruptive to systems of disempowerment and disconnection. I am Isha Vela, trauma psychologist, certified somatic intimacy Alchemist, wealth wizard, shadow doula, love anarchist, intuitive channel, and sovereign business coach. You’re here because you know intimate self connection is the source of everything you want to create in life. And that building safety and trust in your own body is what allows you to fully own and steward your energy and your relationships. Get ready to explore attachments, sexuality, spirituality, self expression and sovereignty and other relational themes from a trauma responsive somatic energetic lens. The conversations and tools shared in this podcast are designed to offer permission to create the abundant life, love and business that lights your soul on fire.
Unknown Speaker 1:05
Hello, sovereign, I am really excited to get into this episode of the podcast because I feel it is so long overdue. Some of the stuff that I talk about all the time, like I could be talking about in here too, and I just haven’t. So today’s episode is about feeling unsafe, and the experience of triggers as opportunities or invitations to expand your nervous system capacity. So as you might imagine, triggers and the experience of lacking safety comes up a lot in my work, especially with couples intimate partnerships. It comes up a lot around polyamory, of course. And it comes up in coaching containers, especially group coaching containers, and certainly over the last, I don’t know, three plus years, there’s been a lot of talk around what creates a safe space or how to create safe spaces, and what it means to have a safe space.
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And can we even promise that right? And then it comes up a lot around entrepreneurship, I write a lot of content around
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acknowledging the ways that we are inviting
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ourselves to like put our offers out there, the way that we become more visible, the way that we are known in the in our industry doesn’t feel really safe. Like it feels like exposure, like we are exposing ourselves to possible rejection and abandonment and being canceled, right. All that stuff is part of
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entrepreneurship, it just doesn’t feel safe to our nervous system because our nervous system is perceiving a threat. So when people say I feel unsafe, it often comes across as an accusation. They’re telling somebody else. There’s a there’s an underlying message that you’re making me feel unsafe, therefore I feel unsafe. Right, this is your responsibility. And so I want to reframe, and say that what they’re actually saying is that they’re uncomfortable. Maybe they’re uncomfortable, because they feel vulnerable.
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Maybe they’re legitimately they’re not feeling met, or heard or seen.
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And maybe they’re feeling uncomfortable because they’re experiencing some unpleasant or unwanted emotions such as shame and guilt. Shame is the one that comes up the most. And there have been previous episodes where I address shame more directly. So I want to talk first, before we get into all that I want to talk first about trigger versus activation.
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I don’t like the word trigger, it reminds me of a gun.
Unknown Speaker 4:02
And guns have negative connotations for me. I’ve also heard in other circles with that, you know, people are really moving away from the word trigger. I don’t love it. So instead, I’m going to use the word activation because a trigger is simply a nervous system activation. It’s simply an event happening in your body. It is neutral. It is intended to be a healthy part of your life and human system. It is there to keep you alive, right? It is a neutral event. Your body is just perceiving danger, or it’s perceiving a threat in the environment. And it’s just a natural fear response that happens. So
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I want to lead with
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you I talked about a lot of nervous system expansion right and how nervous is to get
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Nervous System expansion allows us to receive a lot more allows us to receive more wealth, more intimacy, more depth of connection, right, there’s all of the stuff that gets to flow into our system when we have an expanded or capacitated nervous system. And you expand your nervous system capacity, when you experience an activation, when you recognize you are actually safe, and are able to soothe your way back into a regulated state, that is the process, you experience an activation, you check the facts, am I actually safe? Physically, yes, I am emotionally, maybe, maybe not. Let me assess further. And then when you recognize that you are actually safe, you can soothe your way back into a regulated state that is a process of expansion, right? That is sort of the the brick by brick process of expansion.
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And it comes through practice, right. And sometimes we heal, right, we expand or we capacitate when the thing that we fear the most actually happens, and we realize that we survived it. I know that sounds really stupid, but it’s like, it’s it’s so true. Like what because your nervous system is telling you, you’re gonna fucking die if you experienced this. And so we do all sorts of somersaults and cartwheels to avoid the thing we fear. But in reality, we have to gently move towards those things in order to expand our nervous system capacity to tolerate. And then to recognize that we actually live through the thing. So I used to be terrorized, of having people talk about me and talk about me in a way that is like, you know, where my reputation is on the floor.
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Or, or like people like, it goes with the whole thing of being not liked. And like rejection and all that kind of stuff, right? Bullying. But as an adult, it shows up more as like being canceled, or having, like having my reputation be like, totally taken the fuck down, right, making some sort of mistakes, mistake, and I make lots of mistakes. So it could actually happen. And it did happen recently.
Unknown Speaker 7:38
I’m not really going to get too much into that I’m going to get into another example. But it’s something that’s still highly, highly uncomfortable for me. And it really comes down to, like I said, the terror of being ostracized from a community. And funnily enough, I’ve had some past life regressions into a past life where I was ousted from my community, this was probably in like druid times or something. And I died alone. So there’s that. But when I went through my divorce, and my ex was very hurt, and lashing out from that place of hurt, it was very, very hard for me to receive
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his perception of me or his story of me the way that his Yeah, his image isn’t, is internalized interpretation of who I was. And his image of me was, what he needed it to be in order for him not to feel the pain of grief and loss, right. And I understood that.
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But it was still highly, highly sensational sensational in my body, to know that there was someone in the world, especially someone that I had loved that I shared children with, who appear to want to destroy me, who was really sort of like, it felt very focused on that task of like wanting to take me down. So it was very, very activating. And during that time that I was happening was like, over what, two years.
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During those two years, I centered my entire world on pleasure, because I knew this was a long term problem, first of all, and that
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the soothing that I needed was a like, was a longer term solution as well, like I needed to just really, really focus my energy on pleasure, on joy on feeling free from the inside. And what happened was that I was able to turn that vitriol into rocket fuel. Like I had to focus so hard on regulating my system, at least to a very
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specific level where I was actually able to bring more of myself out into my work. So it’s like I had to like, imagine that the energy coming at you is like, Tiger energy, right? So there’s like a tiger coming at you the energy that’s required to meet the tiger, you have to meet it at Tiger level. So you know, if a sloth is coming at you, then you can sort of meet it that slop level, you don’t need to go tiger on it. But if a tiger is coming at you, the way that you need to activate your, your healthy fight response has to be at the level of Tiger, right? Because anything less is just like, you’re not going to sort of win and be able to regulate at the level that your nervous system needs, right. So I was bringing, I was bringing pleasure in at the tiger level and regulating at the tiger level. So what happened by accessing that healthy fight energy, I actually moved it through my business, I started sharing my message more, right. So that energy that I was like, conjuring up, I moved it through my business, I moved through my content, I created content specifically about this type of stuff. And it really, really helped me. So that whole experience gave me the opportunity to reinforce my energetic boundaries, and expand my nervous system capacity around something that I had feared so much. And that whole fear around like ostracism, or being disliked or hated, just kind of lost its grip on me. It’s lost its hold on my nervous system. So it’s just like, Okay, well, motherfuckers don’t like me, okay. All right. So it’s not the end of the world, I will survive. Because why? I do have tons of people who like me, and I have people who really, really care for me and love me, there are some who don’t, that is okay, that is a total totally normal response. To me. I can be polarizing sometimes, like, not even my I remember my teachers not liking me, because I didn’t know why. But for some reason, there was like, they didn’t like my vibe or something. And some of them did. Some of them didn’t. But you know, as a kid, we want to be liked by everybody. We want to be like, Yeah, I want to be like, you know, I want to be best all around. And just, that’s just not realistic. So. So, you know, the point being that I was no longer as afraid. And
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how this shows up in relationships. When people say they’re triggered when people say they feel activated, or when they feel unsafe, you know, that it’s coming across, like, like an accusation, or sometimes they feel this express feeling unsafe when they feel attacked, right, so their nervous system is having an experience of being attacked. Maybe it’s not what’s actually happening, maybe, you know, maybe if you have this experience of feeling attacked, maybe you’re being called in, maybe you’re being called out, maybe somebody’s pointing something out to you that you don’t really want to look at, or that’s uncomfortable to look at.
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Like I said earlier, I’ve gotten my ass handed to me in the last two months, quite a bit, I was gonna say 12 months, the last 12 months by the universe, but the last two months by actual people. And there’s something to be said about holding a piece of criticism, or feedback long enough. And exploring where it might be true. It is uncomfortable. Personally, I hate it. But I kind of love it too. I can feel the part of me that loves it because I want to grow, I want to develop. And I know that it’s through those experiences that I will deepen that I will I can create more intimacy from those conflicts.
Unknown Speaker 14:07
But um, yeah, like, oftentimes, when somebody brings something to us, somebody bring something to a partner, for example, or a friend and say, and says, like, Hey, I didn’t like the way you did that. Often, our first reaction is defense is like, well, what are you talking about? And that’s already like, you’re already pushing it away. But what if you just paused and let yourself just listen and breathe with as much of like a sort of a curious open heart. If this person obviously is very close to you, you’re gonna want to do that. If it’s somebody that you’re not invested in, emotionally who was not significant to your life, well, then you know, whatever.
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But really, this is this whole point is about running the feedback through the filter of your discernment and all
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honest self examination, like where might this be true? Like, sometimes my kids bring stuff to me. And the first thing I want to say is like, No, I didn’t, or that’s not true. And then if I just listen, I can see it, where it’s like, yeah, I am kind of contradicting myself a little bit. Thanks for the feedback, I’ll do better next time, or I’ll consider that.
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And sometimes they say stuff to me that it’s like, dude, no, that’s not what this is. Thank you for your feedback.
Unknown Speaker 15:33
Yeah, and I’ll explain why it isn’t the thing that they’re thinking it is. But the point is, you take the learning and let the rest go. And
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you have it like,
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having a nervous system.
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That is capacitated doesn’t make you a better person doesn’t make you a better human. But it does give you more choice.
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You have to
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you have to expand your nervous system capacity to have different results in your like a for a deeper connection in your relationships you for if you want a bigger life, if you want more success in your business, you have this sort of like a like a no brainer, or like, it’s not an option for you to like not capacitate your nervous system, it’s just it has to happen for you to like, just live grander and bigger and like sort of open yourself up wider to the opportunities and the possibilities available to you. And, you know, it really is about having more choice, more choice in how to respond versus react. And I can still, you know, as much as I’ve done this work, I can still feel the parts of me that react and sometimes I just am reactive, it just is right. And it depends on whether I’ve slept enough whether I’ve been feeding myself well, or whether I have a headache or not, or I’m in pain, and I just feel more irritable or on, you know, on certain parts of my cycle, right, I will just not feel as capacitated. And I will respond and react to things differently. So it really is about giving you giving you more choice, not only in how to respond to
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things, people in sort of the immediate environment or even online, but also about
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having a bigger life and experiencing just more joy in your business, just creating the life that you want, essentially.
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you know, when it comes to trigger warnings, I don’t do them.
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I don’t do them, because I don’t like the idea
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handling people with with kid gloves. I was just thinking in German about velvet gloves is what we call them in in Germany like kid gloves. It just I don’t I don’t think people are delicate. I believe people are resilient and sovereign as like, at the baseline. And so I don’t write really intense content. But I also don’t do trigger warnings because it’s like, you’re, you know, you’re a grown ass human you can you can deal with this, you know, and if you’re triggered, you can there’s stuff that I read that triggers me and I just stopped reading or, you know, I just keep on my way, or I soothe myself or do whatever. But anyway, I do occasionally appreciate trigger warnings, depending on how sensitive I’m feeling on a particular day. And if I’m feeling particularly sensitive, I will also not be on social media very much. And I don’t watch the news. I don’t read the news, precisely because I am sensitive. I don’t know, I don’t want to know about all the shit that’s happening in the world because either way, it doesn’t change the way that I deal with it. I’m going to still continue caring about the world I’m still going to continue donating and and doing whatever I can to create a better world but I have to sort of stay in my lane. It doesn’t really help me to
Unknown Speaker 19:35
to get so activated where I’m not able to do my work or I where I feel so depressed where like I feel like I can’t go on. Anyway.
Unknown Speaker 19:44
That was a little that was a little side note on trigger warnings. But anyway, activations help you expand. But
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when you’re in a relationship, where you feel pretty constantly activated
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That’s not a sign to stay, because you think you need to grow. Right? Oftentimes, I see people
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activating each other’s most Primo, primal, young parts. I’m like
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this, it doesn’t need to be that hard, right? Like we were going to activate each other. Right. And it can also feel easy to navigate through those activations. So I’m talking here about the twin flame relationship versus the soul, soulmate relationship.
Unknown Speaker 20:37
Yeah, so I see a lot of couples who are are activating each other and are stuck in a loop, where they are actively
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just going into those deeper wounds or the deepest wounds. And this doesn’t mean to leave the relationship, it just means that the level of skill that’s needed to navigate that depth of activation, it’s very high. And it’s something that you may need to either work on or let go for now, or come back to, if and when the time is right. Like sometimes it’s, it’s time to take a pause, or it’s time to invest in a coach or it’s time to get more therapy or get a different type of therapy, when you see stuff coming up continually or repeatedly. And it’s like you can’t get through the loop, right, you can interrupt the loop. So as I was saying earlier, there will be times, you get to decide where you want to get activated and where you don’t.
Unknown Speaker 21:43
Right, in a lot of cases, life just hands you situations where you don’t have a choice about whether or not you get activated, you’re just going to freak and expand because the universe has decided to like, you know, deliver something on a silver platter.
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So whenever you can exercise choice
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about whether or not you get activated, recognize that those are moments you can set boundaries, like use your discernment again, if it is a dear friend coming to me and saying, Ah, I really need to talk to you about something.
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I’m going to take a breath and be like, okay,
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all right, I’m not gonna like this, I can already feel like I’m in trouble, right? All of these all of these experiences coming up. But because I value the friendship, I’m going to do the best to regulate myself and, and like, show up for that because I know that I’m going to grow, there’s something that they’re wanting to bring to my attention that I may need to work on.
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However, if it’s somebody who, you know, doesn’t know me that well, or doesn’t know me at all, I’m not going to take the time, I’m probably not going to take the time to really listen to an opinion or something they have to say to me, right? If they’re upset about something, I will listen because I do want to grow. And I’m just gonna, I’m gonna filter it though, through that discernment. And be like, where is where is this true? Where is what they’re telling me? Where is there like an ounce of truth in there? Can I just take that piece and discard the rest? Right? So
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there is something that I want to share too of round, like,
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like boundaries around this kind of stuff, and maybe it is too much of a sidetrack. Anyway, I’m going to say it just because I feel like it’s important. Um,
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you know, sometimes our past experiences
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you know, sometimes we have trauma, right? We have trauma around certain things, and we get to ask for what we want, when people call us out on stuff.
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Like, in my friendships, for example, like, and because of the work that I do, and my friendships I require.
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I require that right.
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I really like consent. So when somebody’s coming to me, and they’re just like, they want to rant they want to, like, just have have like a dump session. Sometimes, when I’m not feeling as capacitated I really want consent, because I want to prepare myself to be able to hold whatever this person is bringing to me.
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And because of the work that I do, I don’t always feel capacitated like I feel like I need a lot of rest and I’m pretty high in absorption of other people’s energy. So I do need time to sort of like filter out stuff or like let things go. And I do really like consent when somebody is coming to me too.
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will share something with me that they don’t like. Or it’s really just about me preparing my nervous system to receive what they have to say. So I feel like I just needed to say that as as a side note, because you get to ask for what you want. You get to, you know, when, when you’re being presented with a choice about whether you want to expand your nervous system or not, whether you want to get activated or not, you get to say yes and no. And in those situations, I’m a No, I don’t like people to bring their rants to me, I don’t like people to sort of like, dump, dump with me, without me sort of like knowing it’s going to happen, or having a sense that it’s going to happen. Sometimes most of the time, I’m okay, but sometimes I’m not.
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So the steps to expand your nervous system,
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obviously, you want to be tracking, you want to be noticing, you want to have a relationship with your body where you can sort of feel or hear the hum of your nervous system at all times, right? It’s constantly, it’s constantly assessing, it’s constantly moving. So it’s from moment to moment, you want to be assessing what’s happening, different situations, different people. This morning, I had a situation where I got a notification that the payment to the electrical company didn’t go through, and I felt really angry. It’s like, I don’t want to be on the phone with the bank. Again, and I’m pissed, right? And then I’m like, Okay, I’m noticing woof, I’m noticing like, hi, or energy. So, took some breaths, you know,
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obviously noticing when it happens is the first step. The second step is to track sensations in your body. When that thing happened with the, with the payment, I could feel all my energy sort of up and my shoulders and chest and my throat come up my jaw was was feeling kind of
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was feeling kind of hard and tense. So
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and I wasn’t feeling uncomfortable, but I could feel myself just like getting tight inside.
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And then the third step is to assess for actual safety. So first step is to notice, track what’s happening.
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The second step is to notice the sensations and experiences of discomfort. And the third step is to assess for actual safety, right? You want to like, sometimes it’s helpful to just look around your space and be like, Am I safe, right? And sort of like look down at your body? Yeah, I’m safe. I’m actually safe. I’m okay, I’m going to be okay, right. And you can just give yourself a little bit of a pep talk. Sometimes. This is just what happens when your nervous system is activated. It’s sort of like, sends a message to your brain to like, protect, Do this, do that. And so the brain will sort of make up all sorts of stories about what’s happening in order for it to protect itself. So this is when we get into like, ego protective behavior, like we get into defense patterns and strategies to limit connection or to like push people away. Right? When I when somebody brings a grievance to me, when a friend brings a grievance to me, my first reaction is, what the fuck are you talking about?
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What the hell, right. And so I can I know that that’s what my brain does. The first thing is to push away, right to avoid, deflect, right just to push away in some some shape or form. And then I can like, I know, that’s what my brain does. So I know that to not pay attention to those thoughts and to instead, breathe and soothe myself, which is the fourth step after noticing your thoughts is to actually the fifth step after after noticing your thoughts, breathing and soothing. So you just want to like take a breath, and soothing can take all different types of forms, it can take the form of like, self touch, just kind of like touching your hair or touching your arms, touching your body somewhere giving yourself a squeeze. Or it can be engaging in the behavior that you experience is pleasant. Maybe it’s cooking, maybe it’s knitting, maybe it’s taking a walk outside and taking some breaths. Maybe it is calling a friend and saying, I’m really scared. This friend called me out. And I’m just feeling really nervous about having that conversation. So like just just getting connection in those moments, whether it’s a nature, whether it’s with another person or with your own body, it really is about connection coming back into your body in a gentle way, or treating yourself to a lovely meal. And just kind of like oh, okay, yes, things are gonna be okay. So, those are the five steps. I’ll repeat them again.
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Notice when you get activated, second step is track sensation. Notice where the discomfort is happening in the body. Maybe you want to also track fear
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The third step is assessing for actual safety. Most of the time, you will be physically safe, right. Fourth step is noticing your thoughts and definitely not believing them. And like letting yourself be more curious versus like judgmental, or this is what’s happening data. And the fifth step is to breathe and soothe.
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the, like, when you are activated, the reframe the, the mindset shift is, this is an opportunity to practice capacitation this is an opportunity to expand my life, this is an opportunity to expand my range of experience, my potential for success, my potential for deeper love. Right, it is all happening right now. So
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I want to say also that
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you know, something about emotional
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unsafety. You know, there’s a lot of shit happening in the world that I don’t read about in newspapers or watch on the news, but that I know are happening. And
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we, I really want to, like get people out of this idea of their fragility. Because you may feel unsafe, emotionally, but you are not physically in danger. There are a lot of people in this world that are physically in danger that are actually in shit situations. And you may be in a shit physical situation, I’m not going to deny that or take that away from you. However, most of the time, and I’m talking here to entrepreneurs, especially right, like, even when you feel emotionally unsafe, you’re not actually unsafe, anchor into the communities that you are part of seek comfort and safety, right safety and connection, where you can find it, learn to soothe yourself, come back to yourself, meet that part of yourself, the fearful one inside of you, meet them with compassion, bring that that like a tuned presence that you have, within yourself, bring that attuned presence to the fearful part, hold their hand, that is so much more powerful to build your nervous system capacity than anything else. And that is part of the process of
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you know, practicing sovereignty is meeting those parts of yourself that you feel like in the in the place of where you might have some insecure attachment or I don’t really like those terms, either. But for the sake of everybody understanding what I’m saying.
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When you have when you have that anxious attachment or when you have that insecurity, that is how you bring security to yourself is by meeting those parts of yourself with compassion with the attune presence and staying with them as long as they need so that they feel safe again, so that they’re regulated again. Okay? So again, when you feel activated,
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it’s going to be uncomfortable, you’re not going to like it, and you don’t have to like it, you may be feeling vulnerable, you may be experienced unpleasant emotions, such as shame and guilt. And that feeling of emotional unsafety is really
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like, you want to be willing, you want to be willing to feel right. When people feel emotionally unsafe, and they they don’t want to sort of
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go in and explore deeper as maybe they’re unwilling to sit with the discomfort. They’re unwilling to sort of be with it. Or they have less relational practice because they haven’t done certain types of work or amounts of work or depth of work. Or they just may have a bigger trauma history, right? They’re just not there yet. So
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again, just inviting you to reframe, feeling unsafe as an opportunity or an invitation to expand into more of your potential and who and what you came to do and be in the world. All right, love you and let me know how this landed for you. I’m really curious to hear what you are feeling sensing if this triggered you let me know if this if you feel activated around this or if you have your own opinion. I’d love to hear about
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All right, bye.
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Thank you for listening to today’s episode. Remember to hit the subscribe button to get notified of new episodes dropping on the new and full moons of each month. And if you haven’t already, leave us a five star review on iTunes to make sure that everyone who needs this transmission receives it. Until the next episode I’m sending you fierce, fierce love.