One of the things that I have appreciated most about The Mandt System since I became an instructor seventeen years ago and faculty member two and a half years ago is how applicable the principles are to my everyday life. I often tell people that learning these skills has helped me maintain a healthy, loving relationship with my wife over the 12 years that we have been married. I believe one of the most important principles we teach is understanding the need to be a safe person for the people around you. I’m not saying that I do this perfectly because I can think of many times that I have failed and allowed my own frustration, anger, or fear to cause me to respond to situations in unsafe ways. Just ask my wife. I’m sure she can give you plenty of examples!
When I teach workshops, I spend a lot of time talking about the need for our staff to be safe people for the individuals they serve. In order to teach this effectively, I know that I must be a model of safety for the participants in the class and encourage them to be safe with each other. Most of the time, I think I am successful at achieving that goal.
When I initially sat down to write this blog, I told myself that I wasn’t going to mention the recent election here in the U.S. but I don’t seem to be able to escape it. Regardless of who we voted for, it’s obvious from what is on the news and social media that there are a lot of emotions that we are having to deal with and manage related to the campaigns, the outcome, and the ongoing responses.
In the face of the anger and fear that we are experiencing, I am asking myself how I can be a safe person for the people in my life and my country. It’s definitely a challenge when you see the hurtful things that have been done and said and the ongoing reactions that people are having. I am also seeing a lot of folks telling people who are emotionally upset to calm down. This reminds me of when we ask people in our workshops to think about how they responded to a situation when they were emotionally upset and someone told them to calm down. The answer we always get is that it made the situation worse.
So in addition to challenging myself, I’d like to challenge all The Mandt System instructors, students, and anyone else reading this blog to think about how you can be a safe person for the people in your life in all the different ways that you interact with them. It’s my personal belief and experience that we won’t be able to heal our relationships until we make keeping each other safe a priority.
Doug ZehrVogt, Mandt Faculty