How Can I Cultivate Safe(r) Relationships?

Before we can cultivate 'safe' relationships, we have to know what that even looks like. 

Being 'safe' means being free from harm and risk. Think on that for a moment. We feel safe when we lock our doors, wear seatbelts, wear the correct gear on our adventures and stay within our boundaries. We keep our valuables in a safe. When the base runner touches homeplate without being tagged, he is safe. 

As noted, each of these instances allow us to experience freedom from harm or risk, at least it is the best 'we' can do. Accidents can still happen when we wear our seatbelts or protective gear; however, if something were to happen and we and those we hold dear are protected to the best of our ability, we may experience less regret or trauma, especially if the unthinkable happens.

What is a 'safe' person, you may ask. Great question. I have a very succinct and accurate definition of what I believe describes someone who is a safe person.

"A safe person is someone who does not put you on edge". 

Although, a simple definition, I want to break this down into a more definitive description because I believe when it comes to relationships, our emotions can play a huge part in the people we 'choose' to be in relationship with.

So, let me add a dose of logic.

Safe People help us to grow and become better people. Here are some ways they add value to our lives;
*They listen to us.
*They are relatable, not attempting to be perfect or trying to control or fix us.
*They are reliable to follow through on their promises when they say they will do something or be somewhere.
*They accept us without judgment.
*They manage their emotions.
*We can be ourselves around them.
*We are able to trust them.
*They treat themselves and others well.

We cannot very well understand what a safe relationship might look like unless we are aware of what we are facing if we deal with 'unsafe' relationships. 

Unsafe people can often be characterized as those who abandon us when they aren't comfortable with what we are saying or facing. They can be critical, speaking truth without love or not willing to offer grace or forgiveness. 

Some unsafe people are simply irresponsible, and make excuses rather than necessary changes. They blame others and aren't willing to own their actions or mistakes. They may borrow and not repay. They add more stress and chaos than joy in our relationships. 

Some unsafe people may be caring and fun. However, their lack of dependability or responsibility can be a source of irritation if they are continually late or neglectful in meeting us at restaurants or important events or in paying back money we may loan them. They may mean well but don't make the effort to communicate in a timely manner or follow through what they say they will do. 

If we continue to allow these behaviors in important relationships without addressing them, we can grow to resent them. They may not necessarily be mean or hurtful toward us, just careless. Continuing to enable these unsafe patterns can be harmful to the relationship.

God's Word teaches us that others will know we are followers of Jesus by our love for Him and for them. We can better demonstrate our love for others when the close relationships that support us are with safe people.

Safe relationships offer us the comfort of being supported by folks who will take responsibility for doing the hard work in life which at times can be difficult. 

If I were to step outside when it's raining and slip and fall, it would not be my fault. However, I would have to be the one to take the initiative to see a doctor, possibly face surgery, go to physical therapy and rest so my body can heal. This would be the hard work needed to restore health to my body.

Or the other option I could choose if I were an unsafe person, would be to not be pro-active in taking action for what my body may need to heal. 

I could stay angry, stuck and bitter for a long time. I could blame others for the situation. 

God caused it to rain. The contractor who designed my driveway was incompetent. Yada yada yada...

I could hold onto what happened to me with a vengeance as though I am a victim. I could continually complain and ruminate over it to anyone who cared enough to listen for as long as I could get away with it. I could wear my pain like a badge.

A lot of what separates safe and unsafe people is the willingness or lack thereof, to own their lives and the fact that sometimes difficult things happen. Not everything that happens is caused by someone else's negligence. And God can work it all together for good if we allow Him to. Even if it's a hard thing.

Another thing that can differentiate between a safe or unsafe person is the willingness to always be truthful. Period. No excuses. 

Regardless of where we are in life and where we've been, we can move ourselves toward being more of a safe person by taking responsibility to do the things that we need to do to manage our lives well. 

My grandmother often said that anytime I was pointing at someone else (as the problem), I have three fingers pointing back at me. (Make a fist and then point with your index finger... your middle finger, ring finger and pinky are all pointing back at you). 

If I am to live my best life, it must begin with me accepting what I cannot change, changing whatever I can... and leaning on God to learn the difference.

One of the great things about finding supportive, safe relationships is that safe people actually have a better capacity and desire to connect and have close relationships. That's not always true for those who are not safe. 

You are likely to receive true compassion and empathy from safe people. As well as experiencing them being willing to act on their compassion, as opposed to just talking about it. Or being showy about it.

Safe people will show up for us, keep our secrets, pray with us, apologize when they've hurt us and mean it, forgive us, be a positive influence, not flatter us, always tell us what we need to hear, and be someone we can rely on to be consistent as opposed to unstable.

One of the best gifts you will ever give yourself is to find and become a safe person. We do become like those we associate with. 

I'm not saying we are to give up every relationship we have unless these people fit the bill that I've described. However, there is a snowball effect of becoming a safe person. When we surround ourselves with people who live out the principles of God's Word, eventually we become safe(r) people as well.

That being said, we can then positively influence all of our relationships by being safe for them to learn and grow. We do this by being open to feedback and not defensive. We cease faking fine and admit our weaknesses. 

We are able to be spiritual instead of religious when we deal with our issues rather than refuse to take responsibility for them. With the right relationships in our lives, we learn humility and the ability to change things that we need to change. 

As we gain more safety, we will be one that others can trust.

If you desire to learn more about Safe People, here are a few things to consider. Find a friend and a support group of individuals who want the same thing. There is a great book, "Safe People" by Christian Psychologists, Henry Cloud & John Townsend that will give you a birdsye view of what it's all about. And finally, face your fear of doing hard things.

One of the ways you can learn more about safe people, setting healthy boundaries and creating joy-filled relationships is to join me live every Tuesday at 12 noon EDT on the Joy-Filled Relationships Mastermind Group for women. You can register here to receive the link and access to an online portal that allows you to view each week's replay:

Sheri Geyer is a Boundaries Coach for Women

Are YOU Ready to create Joy-Filled ❤️Relationships.... even when it's hard? If so, we need to talk!

I'd like to invite you to Sign Up for My Free Weekly Mastermind Group beginning June 18, 2024 on Tuesdays at 12 noon EDT,

Would you like to learn more about establishing healthy boundaries so that you can cultivate relationships that bring more joy?  Join me on a 5-day Journey to do a deeper dive into discovering how you can find and maintain more joy-filled relationships... Sign up for Free here:

Have You Ever Felt Defeated Due to Other's Unspoken Expectations of You?

Someone is unhappy about a gift you gave or your offer of kindness and the response does not meet what you expected.

There is no doubt: unfulfilled and unspoken expectations can impact our experiences and relationships. This is especially true with those closest to us. 

Have you ever realized you were making expectations of others or yourself? When we can learn to surrender our expectations, we can gain grace, peace and contentment.

Our expectations of others, others’ expectations of us, our expectations of God, and even our expectations of ourselves are quite often unspoken. This is like playing a game but no one knows or is given the rules.

Trying to live up to expectations, whether unmet or unspoken, is exhausting.

The reason for this is that expectations are a subtle form of control. 

And control is the antithesis of surrender.

Surrender is to cease from resistance.

Resistance is a refusal to accept or comply with something.

Maybe with the limitations someone else has on meeting my expectations.

So, I try to control this or them by the way I treat them, usually withdrawal or anger. 

After all, if they would just 'straighten up and fly right', then I would be okay because my expections of them could all be met according to what is suitable for me. 

Wait, what did you say? What's in it for them?

Hmmmm, but they should know what I need.... after all, we've been married for 20 years, she gave birth to me, I've been running this business since he was knee-high to a grasshopper....

In creating expectations for others, God, and ourselves, we are unconsciously setting the standard that we will only be happy, satisfied, or content if or when such expectations are met. 

What’s even worse is when our expectations remain unspoken. 

That’s like asking someone what they would like to eat for dinner and hoping you guessed right out of the billion possibilities that exist!

We really have two feasible options: to share our unspoken expectations with others so they are known (although this still doesn’t guarantee that our expectations will be met by others) or to forego our desire to control, and release others, God, and ourselves from the tyranny of our expectations.

By not recognizing and acknowledging our expectations, we set ourselves up for disappointment, frustration, and at times even despair. 

And we can usher in estranged relationships with those we care deeply about.

By becoming aware of our spoken stated or unspoken unstated expectations, we can then make a conscious decision regarding what is first reasonable and second necessary in our minds. We can exchange unspoken expectations for peace and contentment.

I'm convinced that when I've had unspoken expectations of others, God, or even, myself, it sets me up to feel hurt or angry, regretful, disappointed or sad.

Once I realized I was making expectations of others and myself, and that others could not live up to my unspoken or, at times even my spoken, expectations of them, then I could make the conscious decision to let go and surrender to what would be. By surrendering, I gave myself and others the freedom to enjoy whatever came our way.

And this is the path that brought more joy for me in my relationships..... 

And, I'm certain it provided more joy for others who I let off the hook for my unspoken expectations. 

I also discovered that I was much more able to give myself grace as well. 

And with that grace, came peace and contentment.

Jesus was no stranger to folks holding unspoken expectations of Him. 

The Pharisees and religious leaders 'expected' their 'King of the Jews' to come in a less-lowly fashion as He entered the earthly realm to deliver His people. 

Jesus didn't fit their bill of how their king was to be resplendent is all their 'expected' glory when He came by  way of birth in a manger.

He didn't play by their rules. He didn't measure up in their eyes. They sought to ridicule, mock and shame Him.

Have you ever felt this way? 

Have you held nothing but a desire for good in your heart for another.... friend, spouse, parent, siblings, neighbors, only to have them think the worst of you? 

Instead of seeing your gestures of goodwill toward them, what you said or offered fell short of their unspoken request (demand) for what they want or need from you.

In essence, you were weighed and found wanting.

And the sad part, is that since their expectations were likely not even communicated to you, and you simply had no way of knowing and no recourse.

Jesus must have felt the same when He stood before Pontius Pilate listening to the Jews' accusations of Him. 

Ironically, Pilate found no guilt in Jesus.

Jesus was only given the sentence to be crucified because it was time for Passover and Roman custom allowed for a known and condemned criminal to be released and another accepted in their place. 

So Jesus, became the sacrificial lamb for me.... for all that I have done wrong. 

He became my eternal hope that will never fade away.

He was 'condemned' so I could be forgiven.

And guess what, now God wants me to offer that kind of love and forgiveness.... actually, because it is what sets me free.

I may not ever be forgiven for all the ways and means I've tried or failed to try by family or friends in this life. 

I may be ostrasized, criticised and isolated from some that I have only wanted the best for.

Thankfully, in my case, God looks at my heart and sees my sincere hope to only offer love, light and encouragement for others. And to hopefully, learn to love as I have been loved. 

And that counts, even if another is unable to receive it in the way it is intended.

Even in the study of the 5 Love Languages.... I could add a few, but that is a post for another day .... We can only give what we have been given and have been willing to receive.

You read that right... we must be willing to receive what we are offered. 

To you, what I bring may seem small.... but to me, it may be all I understand and come from a deep place and a heart that desires to be pure.

Compared to your best, it may be sorely lacking..... and while, I accept my limitations, my desire is never to disappoint. (Think of the little drummer boy.... his gift brought the smile of acceptance from the Christ Child, as the song goes).

And He accepts me and you.... that only makes me love Him more.

He knows my heart.... when no one else can.

And it helps me to also accept my limitations when I am unable to meet the unspoken expectations of others.

Only good can come from all the ways I've failed or other's have perceived me as failing. The good comes because like my mom always would say when my life was hurting, "You'll either get the win or the lesson".

I've definitely decided that, while as a child lessons came first and then the test; yet, as an adult most often, I am given the test and then I get the lesson.

And the lesson still helps me to have a win, however small it may appear. It's nonetheless a win and worthy of me celebrating what I've learned and how I will grow through it.

When we've done our best, we know what His 'well done' feels like down deep in our soul. And that is enough.

Regardless of what others may think or say....

Until next time...

Sheri xo

Sheri Geyer is a Boundaries Coach for Women

Are YOU Ready to create Joy-Filled ❤️Relationships.... even when it's hard? If so, we need to talk!

I'd like to invite you to Sign Up for My Free Weekly Mastermind Group beginning June 18, 2024 on Tuesdays at 12 noon EDT,

Would you like to learn more about establishing healthy boundaries so that you can cultivate relationships that bring more joy?  Join me on a 5-day Journey to do a deeper dive into discovering how you can find and maintain more joy-filled relationships... Sign up for Free here:

Have You Ever Seen the Real You?

Several years ago, I had laser surgery on both eyes as a preventative measure against narrow angle closure glaucoma. During the weeks of my procedure and healing, I had to wear my glasses during my waking hours and not use my contact lenses. 

Not so bad, right? 

Well, not anymore. But, it wasn’t always that way … At age 11, my already coca-cola bottle thick glasses were upgraded to bifocals. Pretty tall order for a little girl who weighed about 70 pounds soaking wet. 

Not the accessory that I wanted to add to my daily wardrobe. It didn’t matter how pretty my frames were, no one could see them for looking at two eyes that appeared to be a “uni-eye”.

The fun really began when I wanted to start wearing makeup. Guess what makeup does — it enhances your eyes so they can look larger. I tried every way possible to get mine to look smaller. 

I prayed often for my eyes to be healed.  If that wasn’t enough, I had overactive sebaceous glands and large pores.  So add acne to my list of “how do you see me now” wonderment and you get the idea of what middle school and high school were like for me. 

I was blessed to have cool, name brand clothes. But, no matter how I wrapped it, the package that I presented caused people to stare and whisper. And, of course, that made it a challenge for people to be friends with me because it meant they would risk also being considered, 'not cool'.

There were many times that I came home in tears wishing I never had to go to school again. (I homeschooled my girls, probably, in part, to feelings that I carried from this point in my life).

Fast forward to age 17 – I discovered benzoyl peroxide, got my braces off and found a doctor that would fit me for contact lenses. 

With an overall improvement in my appearance, and starting college, I was moving up from stay-to-myself-shy to Sheri-the-social-butterfly. 

Suffice to say, my life in college was much different than high school, except for the grades. 

I had been a bookworm for way too long – at one point, in life, around age 13, I would read a Nancy Drew Mystery every single day. I was probably the only kid who checked out the maximum amount of books at the school library and actually read every one!

Over the course of life I married and gave birth to three amazing and beautiful daughters! 

During my pregnancy with my oldest daughter, Angel, I prayed every day that she would have perfect eyesight, straight teeth, clear skin and curly hair! Everything I didn’t have… and she’s pretty well batting a thousand, apart from a little astigmatism. I prayed for AnnaLynne and Rachel too, but probably not with such fervor about their personal appearances. (If you've seen my daughters, you would agree that God sure did make them pretty! LOL)

I learned that my self-confidence, self-esteem and self-worth were not necessarily better because I had evolved from my caterpillar stage to the butterfly phase. Regardless of the outward changes, inside I still felt empty, unlovely and unlovable. 

I equated outward appearance to feeling loved, accepted, cool, and all the things. What a disappointment to find this wasn’t the case at all.

At 22, after having grown up in church and spending some years being the prodigal, I got my business straight with God and began a deeper journey to intimacy with Him. (By far, the best decision I've ever made by-the-way!)

At 39, I began doing a Christian weight loss program that focused on drawing closer to God so He was my comfort and not food. 

During this journey, I learned that God had been with me through all of those years.  He was and is the Father I need to teach me how to do this life well. It is beyond belief the difference having this knowledge made in my life. 

You see, I lost my dad in a car accident at age 9, I missed out on the valuable male insight he could have provided about guys, dating, not compromising my values to feel loved, marriage, car repair, career paths etc. I lived that loss numerous times like when I would attend a wedding and I would watch the bride walk down the aisle on the arm of her father. 

I began to ask God for the abundant life His Word promises. This would take me on a journey that led me to value people but to no longer be driven by my desire for love and acceptance from them.  

I began to see myself as God sees me. I saw that I am beautiful and that every struggle I have faced has served to draw me closer to Him and to the understanding that He has seen me at my best and my worst and loves me unconditionally.

All the while, He was patiently teaching me to love myself. He sent little messengers along the way, like the little four year old girl who put her hands on my face and told me that I was pretty, that Jesus loves me, and when I get to heaven He would heal all the “holes” (acne scars) on my face.  

Once after we had both attended a leadership training, a friend that I served with at church told me that regardless of the acne scars that I have, the more he had gotten to know me, the more they seemed to disappear and they in no way “detracted” from my true beauty. I was proud of him for his courage.

So today, when I wear my glasses and someone comments about how thick they are, I can respond without feeling embarrassed. I smile when I touch my skin and find that as my daughter Rachel suggested, by eliminating foundation makeup and simply using a concealer as needed, my skin has actually improved. I would have never imagined I could look in at myself in the mirror without a heavy layer of foundation makeup on my skin and see beauty. 

Wow, God! He can certainly change our perspective and our hearts!

Sometimes, I still ask God to heal my skin and eyes. I know He can if He chooses too. I am now happy behind my peepers, when I choose to wear them, and in my own skin. It probably helps me to be more considerate in my actions so that my inner beauty can shine through.

So at the end of the day, and in the midst of the many times I’ve felt embarrassed, having learned to love and see myself through my Father’s eyes truly has made the most amazing difference. I have stepped out of my shy-I'd-rather-be-in-the-shadows season of life and gone on to pursue much bigger things than I would have ever imagined I could do or have the courage to even try.

If you struggle with feelings of low self-worth, I hope you will take these to the Lord. (I highly recommend a journal... it's the best low/no cost therapy I've ever found). God has a wonderful way of reminding us of what a treasure we are to Him. 

Allow Him to whisper His truth to you and ask Him to allow you to see you through His eyes.... You will never 'see' the same again! 

Until next time,

-Sheri x0
Sheri Geyer is a Boundaries Coach for Women

Are YOU Ready to create Joy-Filled ❤️Relationships.... even when it's hard? If so, we need to talk!

I'd like to invite you to Sign Up for My Free Weekly Mastermind Group beginning June 18, 2024 on Tuesdays at 12 noon EDT,

Would you like to learn more about establishing healthy boundaries so that you can cultivate relationships that bring more joy?  Join me on a 5-day Journey to do a deeper dive into discovering how you can find and maintain more joy-filled relationships... Sign up for Free here: