Safe Spaces to Save the Planet

The issues that occupy the news these days, like climate change, Covid-19, oceans full of plastic, the exponential growth of the population and big data threats need to be addressed on a global scale.

This raises the question: How to mobilize ourselves to take care of each other and of our planet?

The answer is remarkably simple: By creating safe spaces.

To understand why, I want to take you on a little detour in the land of neuroscience.

From the book ‘Thinking fast and slow’ by Daniel Kahneman and from research done by many others, we have learned that our autonomic nervous system shapes our reactions and decisions. This subconscious system is also responsible for our fight, flight or freeze reactions to a threat or PERCEIVED threat.

In its attempt to keep us safe, the system prepares the body for the ‘danger’ at hand by releasing various hormones (e.g. adrenaline and cortisol). These hormones have an immediate effect on our bodily and psychological functions; it narrows our vision, shuts down emotions, focusses on the (perceived) ‘danger’ and slows down the creative thinking process. 

Here is our problem; over 50% of the population in Europe experiences this fight, flight or freeze response daily. And another 15% of people are affected by an overly frequent and intense activation of this response resulting in a range of clinical conditions, including most anxiety disorders and burnout.

The result of living in this constant state of fear is that we live in denial, blame others or find excuses for not dealing with the planetary issues we face. The good news is that instead, we can learn to take ownership and responsibility to find and implement creative solutions for saving the planet.

To make this shift, we need to get educated on how to co-create safe spaces where we are in a frame of mind that allows us to look at and reflect upon our own behavior, and engage in goals bigger than our own wellbeing and that of our loved ones.

Let’s start with asking ourselves daily:

How do you feel today?

What makes YOU feel safe and how can you bring more of that to your workplace?

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