Footsteps in Faith: Am I Safe?

| September 1, 2017 | 0 Comments


Chaplain (Maj.) Daniel Kang
25th Division Artillery
25th Infantry Division
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — Am I safe to tell my struggle to my leaders?

Am I safe to get help from behavior health?

Am I safe to tell my parents what I did?

Are we safe to talk candidly?

In the workplace, we’re concerned about our careers. We are cautious about what we do and say because of our conscious and unconscious fears and anxieties.

Am I safe to disclose any of my struggles and ask for help whether it is about my performance, marriage or other personal issues? Can we share honest feedback and ideas with leaders and still be treated the same way or ultimately be retaliated against indirectly or secretly?

In marriage, people wonder whether they can show and reveal their darkest secrets to their spouse and still be okay in their relationship. Would he/she judge me or accept me? Am I safe to say that what he/she does is hurting me? Or would he/she retaliate against me for expressing my deepest concerns for our relationship.

At home, can children ask “Can I tell my parent what I do and talk about with my friends?” or “Would my parents humiliate me if I tell them I got an F in math class?”

In the back of our minds, we ask and ponder these questions when we talk to people around us every day. Ultimately, it boils down to the question, “Am I safe?”

It could be, but most of time, it is not about physical safety. It is about our emotional safety. Good leaders, good husbands and wives, and good parents provide emotionally safe environments.

We need to be safe enough to know that when we mess up, we will not be put to shame. Healthy and good leaders, spouses and parents encourage us and teach us. They do not humiliate us, belittle us or retaliate against us.

Safe to share
One time I talked to a Soldier who was struggling with alcohol dependency. The Soldier was a heavy drinker, but was also very high functioning so that other Soldiers near him did not necessarily know what was going on with this Soldier.

This Soldier, however, knew deep down inside that if he/she continued down this path that it would destroy his/her career.

At the time, the Soldier knew that he/she could not get better with this issue by him/herself. This Soldier loved what he/she did in the Army and wanted to serve, but also felt it was not safe to discuss this issue with the leadership.

Could he/she get help to get better? The answer was clearly yes, but did the Soldier feel safe enough to disclose the issue?

Would you blame the Soldier for feeling that way?

Dr. Brene Brown efficiently distinguishes between shame and guilt.

Shame is labeling who you are and guilt is pointing out what you did. For example, when you make a mess, your parents, spouses or leaders could say “You made a mess” instead of “You are a mess.”

Slowly and surely, we need to promote emotional safety in our workplace, marriage and home. I say slowly because it doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time to build that trust and safety net. I say surely because of the importance of our emotional safety in our Army, marriage and home.

Emotional safety
An emotionally safe environment is no fear, no shame, no humiliation and no looks. It is the place where leaders, spouses and parents allow mistakes and growth pains. It is where leaders, spouses and parents encourage, teach and guide with patience and compassion, even if they are all adults.


Category: Standing Columns

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