on emotional safety and compassion
True emotional safety comes from inside yourself. No one can actually touch you but you - and, you are not your emotions. So - perhaps counterintuitively, the way to feel safe is then to offer love to everyone, like a child. Approach with the assumption that they will love you too. And if they aren't able to, then the reason for that lies with them, not with you. It's still okay to love them even if they can't allow themselves to love you back. Offering our innocence and wonder to the world at large is a position from which we cannot be hurt - we are invincible in it, because in giving love we do not ask for anything back, and there is no expectation from others. It is a one way street. Others can choose to receive the love we give with open arms or not, but their decision doesn't affect our ability, willingness, or spirit of offering this love.
True damage comes when we stop ourselves from being what we need to be - exuberant, joyful, childlike in our innocence and trust and love. We learn through life that it's not safe to bring these to the world because we will not be accepted with them; they will be thrown back in our faces, stepped on, laughed at. Or at least, that's the lesson we think we learn. The actual lesson is that we don't FEEL like it's safe to offer these things because we are AFRAID that we won't be accepted with them. The so-called "second arrow" in Buddhism - the first is the injury, the second is the injury we do when we come down on ourselves. This is a difficult concept to embrace because it requires the acknowledgement that we have been (in some ways, willingly) injuring ourselves over and over and over again for our entire lives.
The truth is, the people who don't accept these qualities in us are those who are in the most pain, those who suffer because they are hiding the farthest in the hole. They lack acceptance and compassion because they know that secretly, they want those open, excitable, joyful, loving things for themselves and they don't feel that they are allowed to. It's a vicious and self-perpetuating cycle. We spend our childhoods rushing to become adults, and then our entire adulthood trying to recover our child selves, or in the worst cases, hide them. The idea that we can actually live as our Truths, that we can be our child selves as adults, and that perhaps we have spent much of our lives seeking safety through dead-end means (money, power, sex, etc) can be extremely threatening if not absolutely devastating; we try to protect ourselves from seeing this failure by judging instead of accepting, sticking to close-mindedness instead of allowing curiosity, clinging to hardness and rigidity instead of inviting love and compassion.
We don't need acceptance in order to offer ourselves fully. The inner Self is a fact, an unchangeable, a Truth. It is not up for negotiation, it is not moldable, it is only exactly as it is. Behavior is not the Self, nor are emotions or thoughts. The Self is a Source. But many of us are afraid of it. How can we face this unchangeable Truth that we have lived with our whole lives, how can we acknowledge its constant existence when that acknowledgement also forces us to see how we continually turn from it, reject it, stomp on it, run from it, despise it?
Safety comes from this understanding and from compassion, the ability to understand the pain of others. By no means do we need to take on this pain, but when we are able to see it in others and see how they bring it to their interactions with the world and with us, how it brings intimidation and fear and instigates self-hatred and self-violence - then it loses its power to spread suffering to us, to find a hold in us and keep us from living our own Truths.
Lesson: it's much easier to do what is intuitively right and be what we are than to struggle against such things, despite the fact that it frequently feels actually impossible to go with said Truth. The struggle against our selves only causes suffering and pain, where the following of Truth brings ease.