The Experiment of Creating a Safe Place

Can you find your own?

I am offering you a specific safe experiment on this page. It is a thought experiment, or visualisation. That said, I am not a visual person; I can hear, feel or sense things better. Please think of visualisation in this widest sense of the word and use all the senses available to you to imagine experiences in our head.

You do not need to follow my guidance to the letter; only bear in mind that the task is to find a way into a safe place of your making, and to find your way back again with all parts intact.

That way you can return to that place again and again. This is one occasion when note-taking is not helpful – until after the event.


….. as rushing things can create its own obstacles.

The Safe Place experiment, in its stages, are:

  1. relaxing down using controlled breathing, practical relaxation and visualisation.
  2. finding an image that is easily recalled and enables you to create a feeling of calm and safety. You can have more than one as you explore, and settle in one ‘place’ in due time; a place you can describe as safe.
  3. the image can be real, imagined or drawn from literature and art. The only condition is that it is the image enhances the calming actions of controlled breathing.
  4. the image(s) are able to evoke emotions and sensations when you focus on the image.
  5. name those emotions and sensations and the location of any pleasing physical sensation. This involves the Body Scan experiment.
  6. take time to enhance the image – even ‘play’ with it. You do not have to be ‘serious’ about it; simply make it stronger, brighter, clearer in any way that works for you.
  7. take your time to be in that place – long enough to ‘hear’ or ‘see’ anything it has to offer you at that time.
  8. return from it slowly, noticing your ‘pathway in and out’ of the experience.

Find at least one image that is that safe PLACE. Living creatures are fine, but keep in mind that our relationship with them will change over time.

Use self-talk to affirm what you hear, see and feel when it feels right to do so.

Take as long as you need although there are only 24 hours in a day – so setting a realistic time limit is sensible.

Frequent and random journeys

…. to your safe place may improve your ability to seek out things just a little bit different that you want to do.

Finally, can you find a reinforcer (or anchor) to help keep the image sharp and more ‘available’ to you in the days and months to come. An ‘anchor’ can be a word, a movement or a touch – whatever works for you. Is there a word that summarises the whole experience; maybe a specific part of the image that gets your attention.

Another thing that might help as you stay in your safe place would be affirmation work. This does not suit everybody, and do not ‘crowd’ your experiment. That can be a problematic as rushing it through.

If it helps, after the event, use the Subjective Unit of Distress (SUD) to monitor changes in the the intensity of feelings and sensations through the duration of the safe experiment.

Please bear in mind that any record of the safe experiment might be helpful at a later date. For instance, if the experiment goes well, and I feel good about it, I can return to the experiment at a later date when I do not feel so good.

Further leads to consider


What is a nudge

How to design a nudge

Building on small results

Need professional help?