Clinical psychologist Dr. Tony Humphreys details a path to fearlessness, conscious awareness, psychological safety, enhanced self-trust and improved leadership.
Clinical psychologist Dr. Tony Humphreys discusses the journey to psychological safety, a state of personal psychic fearlessness. He covers childhood influences, parenting, self-actualization, how leaders must lead fearlessly, and the difficulties of any voyage of self-discovery and self-love. Humphreys holds out hope for the ultimate goal of comprehensive self-knowledge and self-love as he explains how to replace fear with personal psychological safety.
Humphreys, who founded the Relationship Mentoring modality of psychotherapy, has written 47 books, including The Power of Negative Thinking, Leaving the Nest: What Families Are All About and Self-Esteem: The Key to Your Child’s Future.
Humphreys begins by noting that aware adults seek secure ways to deal with their “physical, emotional, sexual, behavioral, intellectual, social and creative” issues. Adults who achieve psychological safety may resolve emotional and psychological scars from childhood as they advance on their journey of self-discovery and affirmation.
Not knowing in our blood and bones that we are truly loved and lovable wisely leads us to hide our capacity to give and receive love.Psychotherapist and clinical psychologist John Welcood
People who feel psychologically unsafe unconsciously erect personal safeguards, while those who feel psychologically safe consciously make the decision that such defenses aren’t necessary.
In a state of psychological safety, Humphreys clarifies, your “conscious resonance” focuses your thinking, and you replace fear with fearlessness. When you feel psychologically safe, you love yourself and extend that love to other people. You regard yourself as worthy and encourage yourself.
When you feel threatened, your “unconscious resonance” – a battery of defenses – moves to the fore. In a defensive state, people create psychological safeguards that often result in anger, malaise, withdrawal, faultfinding and rejection of love.
To support your psychological safety, develop and nurture your passions. Be honest, aware and patient. Set distinct boundaries. View each success as a stepping stone to greater success, and each failure as a lesson and an opportunity to learn and grow. Treasure your individuality. Stay true to your chosen course.
Raising Psychologically Safe Children
Most children grow up under the protection of adults, and that contributes to their psychological safety. The relationships that psychologically safe children develop with their parents, teachers and community sustain their ability to minimize external threats that might disrupt their internal harmony. The way parents raise, treat, guide and teach their children shapes their sense of security and psychological safety.
The teaching aspect is particularly important since mothers and fathers are a child’s “first educators.” Ample evidence demonstrates that a child’s first three years – long before most kids interact with a teacher – are critical to establishing his or her lifetime attitudes toward learning. Parents should inculcate a “love of learning” early in a child’s life.
Parents and teachers should not preemptively label any child as lacking the ability to learn or having less mental acuity than his or her peers. All children and all adults can learn more and improve their learning throughout their life.
When a child experiences love being tied to ‘good’ behavior or any achievement, a wise hidden fear is created that ‘if I fail, love will be withdrawn and that possibility is terrifying to me’.Dr. Tony Humphreys
Parents are their children’s primary role models and ultimate teachers in early childhood. Therefore, Humphreys cautions that moms and dads should carefully weigh what they do and say in front of their children. He notes that too many parents and teachers humiliate, embarrass and punish kids when they fail, instead of helping children learn from negative experiences and losses.
He explains that parents and teachers should support children who fail by helping them handle each failure or loss as a learning experience. With that support, children can find that failing opens new opportunities to discover and learn. However, when adults treat children’s mistakes or shortcomings as failures, they prevent their children from recognizing and seizing growth opportunities.
One advantage of cultivating your own sense of psychological safety is that you’re likely to pass it on to your children, who will pass it along to their children, and so on.
However, Humphreys warns, psychological guardrails that work for children are inappropriate in the adult world. Grownups can’t hide behind childish protective armor. Adults must construct their own age-appropriate guardrails as they find their path to psychological safety. Among other things, this means striving to attain a secure work environment and build safe relationships.
Your Inner Hero
Like all human beings, leaders have psychological issues that affect how they manage and lead others, and how the people who follow them regard their approach to leadership.The more negative internal issues leaders have, the more problems may emerge regarding their effectiveness in leading people and organizations.
Leaders and managers must identify their “conscious hero”within themselves. Their hero helps them champion themselves, understand their precious uniqueness, remember that nurturing their talent is a process and savor small achievements that lead to large goals.
Aware leaders and managers can become conscious heroes for their employees. By serving this crucial role, they nurture employees as they seek to discover their own internal, conscious heroes.Dr. Tony Humphreys
Leaders must be receptive to positive feedback from strong individuals. Demonstrate that you are willing to listen to others and respond with equanimity. Then, people may stop viewing you as posing some kind of danger. Being open enables a potential meeting of the minds. People who offer each other mutual, calm feedback or critiques are in a better position to work out their differences.
Humphreys emphasizes that leaders must be aware of any unconscious tendency they may have to bestow approval and warmth only in proportion to employees’ achievements. Such behavior teaches people that their worth derives strictly from how they perform their jobs.Ask employees how they feel about their accomplishments to help them own and savor their achievements.
Organizations are systems. By their nature, systems lack intelligence and soul, which only the people inside them can supply. Interactions within systems depend entirely on people’s awareness of themselves and others. Leadership is a significant factor in how psychologically safe each person in a company feels. Those who feel most safe can help leaders and managers become less fearful.
You can only provide psychological safety ‘holding’ for others when you possess such a safety ‘holding’ of yourself.Dr. Tony Humphreys
Fearless organizations practice horizontal communication, embracing each employee’s personal authority. They prioritize workers over profits, appreciate individual differences as wellsprings of creativity, accept disagreement as a route to aware solutions, and offer employees specific roles instead of labels.
Every person possesses understanding and knowledge and has wisdom and love to share. Psychological safety enables individuals to experience that depth and poetry within themselves and then to share it and encourage it in other people.
Though his book’s title might mislead you, Dr. Tony Humphreys is no wannabe self-help guru. In the vein of Brené Brown, he’s a thoughtful, perceptive, scholarly explorer of how psychological processes can entrap people in fear and self-doubt or free them to find their strongest selves. Humphreys writes with clarity, seldom repeats himself and offers concrete examples to back up his advice. His most moving, revelatory chapters deal with the need for parents to develop psychological safety, so they can instill that safety in their children. Humphreys presents that effort as a kind of sanctified quest, and indeed it is.