Friday, September 12, 2014

On Safe Spaces

I have always been a believer that spaces and environments affect people and vice verse. It turns out that whole idea is an actual, real thing, which must mean I’m very smart. Environmental psychology studies the interplay and affect of individuals and their surroundings.

Wikipedia describes environmental psychology as “encompassing natural environments, social settings, built environments, learning environments, and informational environments.”

My hypervigilant, obsessive nature of observing my surroundings started soon after a significant childhood trauma, which makes a lot of sense. Trauma creates deep, unnatural grooves in our brain that form our personalities and mode of operation over time.

I became a young expert at knowing where every article I owned was placed and if it had been moved, I was keenly aware of how physically close people were to me and where the nearest exit door was located, and I attempted to control every aspect of my environment as a way to self-soothe.  I wasn’t protected from harm as a little girl and from that point on I have sought to protect myself in my environment on physical and metaphysical levels.

I don’t see this as ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ Reality is that this has served me well in a lot of ways. For example, I’ve been complimented on the arrangement, color scheme, and decorative nature of my home for years and years. People consistently comment that they feel safe or relaxed in my living space. I’ve created a safe haven for myself and that translates to others.

In my work as a producer, I get to create live events that incorporate the whole audience/attendee experience – a sensory exploration. What do they see, touch, taste, hear, feel? That’s a niche that I don’t know of many other producers of my type playing in. It sets me apart.

As an adjunct professor of public speaking and communication theory, I get to create a classroom energy conducive for multi-level learning. As an organization coach, I get to assess and rearrange ideas and people-energy for maximum productivity and effectiveness.

Perhaps you could call me an Energy Specialist. Only no one would know what that means.

Whatever the case, I’ve done enough inner healing and work to release fear that has been associated with controlling spaces in the past. Now I get to create spaces that are freeing, peace-filled, light, and calming because that’s me.

One of my projects last year was redecorating my office. This was particularly important for several reasons:
1.     I spend more time in my office than my own bed. Sad.
2.     I have a lot of hard conversations in my work and I wanted an environment that supported a higher, positive nature.
3.     If I didn’t spend the budget money I would have lost it when the new fiscal year started.  

So here is one example, one snap shot of my work life that embodies the idea of safe spaces. Other than the terribly designed chair on the bottom left (that I couldn’t get rid of), I think I did okay. 

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