Becoming a Safe Haven

Some human beings are safe havens. Be companions with them.


Several years ago when I had recently gotten married, I distinctly remember two family members of my then husband-who several relatives spoke about with disdain for their arrogance before I had even met them. I consciously chose to keep an open mind. When we met, I had several one-on-one conversations. I quickly learned about their lives. For whatever reason —that I had the status of “out-law” (this is what the cousins called the non-blood relatives who married into the family) or I had curiosity —these, two men opened their hearts to me. I heard stories of their growing up, how they had fallen in love with their wives, some of their life-shaping experiences personally and professionally, and what they felt passionate about. Listening with genuine interest, I discovered a great deal about who they were and what they valued. One of these men, who I don’t think ever got tears in his eyes in front of anyone, regularly teared up while talking with me. Neither one ever disrespected me privately or publicly.

I witnessed the boorish behavior they used with other members of the family. The gossip held merit. Yet, both of these men revealed much depth and breadth about their lives that allowed me to realize they weren’t Arrogant Know-It-All Uncle Saul or Pompous Cousin Clyde (not their actual names). During our private conversations, I had begun to recognize what might have fueled their arrogant ways.

I chose to hold compassion. I had no interest in joining the gossip behind their backs. I’d regularly walk away from “Pick a Little Talk a Little” conversations while wondering what was being said about me behind my back. I also knew it wasn’t my business to guide these two gentlemen to discard their arrogant ways or alter the gossiping behavior of the other family members. I continued to learn about the kind of human being I aspired to become, how unproductive gossip is, how we are multi-dimensional, and not a label other people attempt to stick on our foreheads. From even earlier situations in my life, I realized we can experience this unsatisfying, fleeting sense of bonding with others in the mutual dislike of another person. What a bad taste that ultimately leaves in one’s mouth.

Have you ever walked into a room and immediately been verbally bullied by another person or witnessed this behavior? Have you ever been publicly or privately shamed by a colleague, boss, family member, or friend? Have you been gossiped about behind your back, scapegoated, or labeled? Have you participated in gossip or shamed another person privately or publicly?

Like me, you’ve likely experienced, witnessed, and participated in most or all of the above scenarios.

On the other hand, have you ever encountered a person whose presence feels immediately welcoming, warm, and kind? You simply know you could share just about anything with this individual while trusting all that content would be held in confidence in their heart and being. You notice you can take off the armor, cease the tap-dancing show of “I’m fine,” and effortlessly be your empowered, vulnerable, resilient self in their presence. Your strength of character, beauty, intelligence does not make them feel threatened. Your uniqueness is welcomed and celebrated.

You notice they seem to bring out the wholeness of other people including honesty, genuine smiles, laughter, sassiness, silliness, quirks, griefs, curiosity, or creative expression. Children, teens, and adults seem to wake up, become animated and engaged when these people walk into the room. The space and energy field around them oozes with warmth, softness, openness, and clarity. They seem deeply grounded inside themselves, a force of goodness, humility, and courage.

You observe that if there’s conflict, these individuals can speak to the different perspectives. They hear, see, and appreciate this diversity as they honor unique points of view and describe a common thread amidst the differences. They feel like the loving glue that keeps us all connected in meaningful ways. These individuals exude acceptance, compassion, radiant love, and non-judgment.

Hopefully, most of us have experienced certain individuals with whom we feel completely safe to be ourselves. Maybe you have become a safe haven.

Who are the safe haven people in your life? Are you becoming a person with whom people feel they can be genuine? What practices do you engage to exude welcome and warmth or does this come naturally to you? What would your experience of life be if you knew your gifts, quirks, perfectly imperfect being could be consistently appreciated with open arms?

May you take the time to get to know another human being beyond other people’s labels, judgments, experiences.

May you know yourself through awakened self-discovery, the loving eyes and honest feedback of respectful, high-quality people. May you become a safe haven for the people you love and respect.

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Laura Staley
Laura Staleyhttp://www.cherishyourworld.com
The founder of Cherish Your World, Laura Staley passionately helps people thrive by guiding them to a holistic transformation of space, heart, mind, body, and soul. Laura knows that there’s a relationship between the conditions of our homes or workplaces and the quality of our lives. Trained and certified with the Western School of Feng Shui and seasoned by almost two decades of working with a variety of clients, Laura uses her intuition and expertise to empower her clients to produce remarkable results in their lives. Her trifecta of serving people includes speaking, writing, and compassionate listening. As a columnist, Laura writes personal essays focused on self-discovery, feng shui, emotional health, and transformations from the inside out. Laura is the published author of three books: Live Inspired, Let Go Courageously and Live with Love: Transform Your Life with Feng Shui, and the Cherish Your World Gift Book of 100 Tips to Enhance Your Home and Life. Prior to creating her company, Laura worked as a fulltime parent and an assistant professor at Ohio Wesleyan University. She earned a Ph.D. in political science from The Ohio State University. Her joys in life include laughing with loved ones, dancing, reading, meditating, running, being in nature, and listening to music she loves. She resides in Black Mountain, NC with lovable dog, Layla. Laura is a contributing author to the inspiring book Crappy to Happy: Sacred Stories of Transformational Joy


  1. There are people who we observe and listen to in silence, who enrich us and who, almost unwittingly, make us better every time. But they don’t even notice it, because they have a humble heart and can’t imagine how important their example is.
    We could confidently say that each of us needs someone to admire, someone who is a point of reference who inspires them. It is not a question of having a model to follow, of copying the words of a philosopher, a writer or a guru who makes himself known through the media. Rather, we need a point of reference close to us. And there are people who appear in our life as if chance had decided to put them in our path at just the right time. They are a breath of fresh air that comforts our mind and soul, which fits perfectly with our values ​​and breaks through our hearts almost without asking for permission.
    When you find such a person, we must pay attention, take care of them, and let their positive stimuli envelop us.
    It is said that there are irreplaceable presences in our life, people who leave their mark. Since the journey of all of us in this life is short, we must not hesitate and enjoy every moment that we are allowed to spend in their company.

    • Thank you, Aldo, for this beautiful and eloquent contribution and reflection on this topic of safe haven people. From your expression, I ‘m certain you are a safe haven for many and that you experience those who are a “breath of fresh air that comforts our mind and soul, which fits perfectly with our values and breaks through our hearts almost without asking for permission.” Yes, indeed. Grateful for your insight and resonance.

  2. Laura,
    This is the most beautiful description of real life emotions encompassing a variety of experiences that we all indeed witness or project. Netting family or friends can either be a relaxed, enjoyable experience where nobody is trying to score points. Genuine love and empathy are cherished experiences. You Have opened a box of thoughts, memories, good and challenging. When meeting someone for the first time, there is an instinct; sixth sense; vibes, heart alert to the individual’s genuineness. Laura, I am truly in awe. Your vivid but gentle descriptions say such a lot about human relationships. It makes me stop and think; reflect.

    I think trusting one’s initial instincts usually works, but the other person will be doing the same. With people you feel comfortable with, not ‘at risk’, totally relaxed; able to exchange views in any subject. That is the ultimate feeling of harmony and empathy. Laura, you enlightened my day and I thank you.
    Simon (from across The Pond)

    • Simon, Your thoughtful reflections have brought tears to my eyes. I’m so grateful to know this essay allowed you to stop and think-to reflect. Having had so many different types of interactions with people-some extremely difficult-I’ve discovered-over time-that there truly are those people who have lived through experiences that have softened them, opened them, allowed them to hold deep compassion for others-these individuals feel like incredible treasures in life-you can share freely-maybe even swear a bit-act goofy, laugh, be serious, be silly and safe haven people will keep loving you, accepting you in all your expressions. As you stated it-that “totally relaxed comfort-able to exchange views on any subject.” This does create harmony and empathy. Yes, indeed! Thank you so very much for all you’ve shared. I value you and your contribution, my friend. Grateful to you -across The Pond! From the mountains here to you across The Pond. With gratitude always, Laura

    • Thank you so much, Darlene. I really appreciate your insight that safety and trust create the foundation for the authentic self. I know in our work with clients that trust, safety, and confidentiality remain essential. I appreciate your kind words, your valuable insight, and you.