‘This will never happen to me’, you tell yourself while changing the channel or quickly navigating away from that awful Facebook post.
And so, we blissfully (and sometimes not so blissfully) push our safety to the back of our minds. We change the channel, or post on Facebook about sending hopes and prayers, or get drunk, or do whatever it is we do except actually dealing the reality that bad things happen to good people every day, everywhere. Denial, as the old saying goes, is not just a river in Egypt.
By refusing to acknowledge the possibility of bad things happen, you disempower yourself.
How so, you ask?
After all, you don’t want to walk around paranoid all day thinking about all of the bad things that could happen. That’s a sure way of going bonkers.
And you are right.
But refusing to acknowledge the possibility of bad events means you also fail to consider how you might act should something happen, and fail to plan for such events.
In much the same way that ‘everyone gets a medal’ creates weakness and an entitled attitude, refusing to be exposed to even the notion that something bad can happen creates - dare I say it? Yes, I do – overly-sensitive people, who cry victim at any slight, real or perceived. Social media is much to blame, as it is designed to polarise. It will only expose you to things that reaffirm your world view, be it right or wrong. This results in us burying our heads in the sand and not actually dealing with some things that can be important. We often obsess over these fears, and engage in discussions and arguments over what should be done against, for example, terrorism. And so we should. But if we look at deaths resulting from terror attack in Australia compared to, say, obesity, domestic violence, drug abuse or drunk driving, we will see that our energy, especially in terms of personal worry, might be better spent elsewhere. It’s much more realistic to worry about getting cancer or dying in a car accident, than it is to worry about terror attacks in terms of your immediate safety (at least here in Australia). What does this mean?
Part of your personal safety plan (oh yeah - you should have a personal safety plan) should include a review of every day life. Do you eat well, exercise, sleep enough and manage stress effectively? Do you take care of your mental health, spend enough time with family and friends, and enjoy healthy hobbies that can help maintain and improve you health?
You haven’t reviewed this stuff? Let me guess – because it’ll never happen to you, right?
These factors have a direct impact on your long-term survival, and you should plan and act accordingly!
A quick detour here. I have written quite extensively about cognitive dissonance in martial arts and self defence training. The behaviour patterns of avoiding cognitive dissonance at all costs can be found everywhere and we are all guilty of them to some extent. I do believe that cross training in different martial arts is the best cure for this (more on this here, here and here).
Back to your safety.
As Dr Gavriel Schneider often says ‘failing to plan is panning to fail’. As a compulsive planner, I agree.
Let’s look at an example. Have you got a plan for what you and family would do, should you wake up to a home invasion? Have you discussed it with your household? Have you reviewed it in the last 12 months, or when you moved house last, or when your circumstances changed?
Another example. Do you have a will, and have you discussed with your family what should happen in the event you should be hurt in a car accident, and become unable to work, or unable to move, or die?
These can be hard conversations to have.
But there is much research that shows that your response when you have planned for such events will be considerably better and can result in significantly increasing your survival chances. So what have you got to lose?
I invite you to conduct a risk analysis of you daily life. What are the risks where you live? How likely are they to happen, and what are their consequences? Do you have plans in place should something happen? Stick to what is reasonable to expect can happen in your context in terms of where you live, the people you deal with, etc.
Does this mean you need to expose yourself to extreme violence, or regular torture? Of course not! But one must be able to openly seek out:
1. Opinion different to one’s own, and try and see the merit in them (more on this here)
2. Find credible sources of information to support one’s claims (hint - memes on Facebook are not it).
3. Understand the risks and dangers of the environment you live in
By being exposed to these, you will develop better critical thinking and will be better prepared in the event of something happening. Not only that, but by having faith in your physical abilities and other self-defence abilities, you will be able to focus on identifying threats before they happen and stay safer.
Give it a whirl and thank me later - when 'it' doesn't happen to you because you were properly prepared for it!
Stay safe, stay tuned.