top of page

Safety vs Protection / episode 41 show notes

Updated: Mar 27, 2020

SAFETY (Mercedes)

What is it? General definition: The condition of being protected from danger, risk, or injury; Unlikely to cause danger, risk, or injury; The state of being safe

Polyvagal definition: A state of the nervous system determined by one’s neuroception of environmental cues as being safe. In our safety state, we can access our social engagement system.

Other feeling words associated to safety: Welfare, Well-being, Protection, Security, Harmlessness, Shelter, Freedom

Why does this matter? / Why would I want safety?

  • “Health, growth and restoration” - dr porges

  • So we can be curious


  • Trust

  • Love

  • Respect

  • Honesty

What does it feel like to be safe?

  • The world is safe, fun, and peaceful

  • Soothe and be soothed

  • You can experience feeling: Calm, Happy, Engaged, Attentive, Meditative, Interested, Excited, Joyful, Relaxation, Again: freedom

Polyvagal state

Safe & Social (obviously!)


  • Something I see in the clients that I work with

  • Based in relationships; Probably various types, but I’ll focus on romantic and friendships

  • Settling for protection, not safety

Relationships - I’ll ask - “Do you feel safe with …?” pause and say yes, but after clarifying, they say no

Gangs & peers

  • No one is actually in their ventral safety system and making genuine connections with compassion, trust, empathy

  • Drugs, alcohol and high risk bx tie them together with a sense of protection amongst them

  • Code of not snitching

  • Not real since they all turn on each other

Protection comes from a defensive state

  • Sensing danger is out there

  • Us vs them mentality might go along with it

  • Very true with gangs

  • I wonder if those in a sympathetic state make for protectors?

  • Those in shutdown make for being protected?

  • Abuser and abuse victim

  • Trauma bond

Not actual safety: No safe connection; No ventral activation with vulnerability; No compassion, empathy

The sustainability of these relationships and the overall health?

  • How safe can a relationship based on protection be?

  • A healthy relationship is two well-regulated individuals meeting in the middle

  • A relationship of dependence is potentially two dysregulated systems

  • Bad combo potentially


More Open Letters are coming!

"Stack 1" is available now. 10 Open Letters from Justin for $20 -


I must share with you that when I first started listening to your podcast, I was a cook that ran a food program at a preschool. I’d listen while I cooked and became so fascinated with polyvagal theory. Not only did I begin to unravel my own story and apply it to myself, but I also began to think about what a future would be like if we learned how to self-regulate and therefore be co-regulators for our kids. I began to test out some of this whenever I had a chance to see the kids in the class. Validating their hurts, frustrations and happiness was so therapeutic for my younger self that never received that. I began to think about how cool it would be to be a teacher and apply pvt in a classroom. I continued to listen to your podcast and continued to build this dream of becoming a teacher that created a safe classroom environment and who helped her students to know that they are ok to be themselves. Flash forward a couples months, and I am now a teacher. I got a really unique opportunity to teach 6th grade home ec. I had a moment the other day where I realized that I was actually living the future that I had envisioned for myself. My why was being put into motion; to create safety and to support my students. I can’t thank you enough for the work you’ve put out. Not only is it digestible for those with no formal training in the subject, but it is motivating to heal yourself so that you can begin to heal others around you. It’s a continuous process and I am still getting to know my own nervous system. I can whole-heartedly say that this work has changed my life and has invigorated me with a sense of purpose and meaning for which I believed I never had. THANK YOU.

Intro/Outro music & Transition Sounds by Benjo Beats -

73 views0 comments


bottom of page