To feel safe

I was almost killed.....

I'm standing beside my bike at the crossover of a mainroad.

My foot is one one bicycle pedal and I'm about to go as the light turns green. But then, an Audi races before my eyes through the red light. I'm able to turn my steering wheel at the last moment and take a step backwards.

I am totally shocked, my heart beats terribly fast and my head is spinning! I should have felt safe because the light for me, a cyclist, was green and because others on the road stop if the light turns red for them. But I don't feel safe. I trust this traffic light no longer....

It makes me think of safety...and specifically: feeling safe. Safety for me goes together with trust. I feel safe when I know that my environment won't do me harm, has no judgement and provides help if I ask for it.

A “leap” to my work as a supervisor: in supervision it is important that supervisees have trust in their supervisor—trust that he/she will listen in a genuine way, is interested in them and is aware of them. Within this “climate” the supervisee can fel safe to “cross the road” and follow his/her way to make a step forward.

It makes me think of the recent story of one of my supervisees. She has a conflict with her manager—she calls her boss a “bitch”. I am very touched by her story and can hardly hide my feelings, but I'm not showing this, of course.

But this “bitch” is very bothersome...almost bullying, toward my supervisee. I hear and feel that she has no defence system and that this manager will not change her behaviour.

That manager is an Audi...I have no influence on that Audi. As a supervisor I'm about to indicate this possible “dangerous” situation for my supervisee. I carefully talk of the atmosphere at her work where, apparently, there is no trust or safety.

She nods and feels heard; I understood her well.

But my supervisee is not yet there...next week she has a performance interview with her manager, that “bitch”. She fears that interview already.

In our supervision session we talk about what she can do to feel safe in a difficult situation.

My supervisee and I talk: about not reacting at once but holding a foot on the bicycle pedals, keeping her hands on the steering wheel and then, when this manager has raced past her, only then thinking about the interview and react on it, if she wishes to.

It is the art of: creating your own safety and learning to wait. Look left, look right or in this case: look back in the sense of reflecting on the situation, trying to look for the meaning afterwards.

Managers who are “bitches” and Audis will always be there. When you neglect them you get hurt, you will be affected and you will suffer the worst outcome.

So....better to trust your own traffic light....

Gerian Dijkhuizen

This column was first published in ANSE Journal 2018