The costs of security

What does "being secure" or "trying to feel secure" cost us?

Security is important. Some stability is essential. No dispute about that.

But how much security? And, at what point does being secure or trying to be secure create bigger costs and risks? When does being secure create more insecurity, either in the same area or elsewhere? And, even when some security is helpful or "essential," are we clear about the costs we are "paying for our security" in exchange for the benefits we are receiving? Is our security a good deal or a deal we would not accept if we knew its full costs?

Catering to your own desire to feel safe, not only severely limits what's possible in your life,

but also can make your life more insecure.

  • Do you consistently ask others for what you want?

    • Or do you more often cash in on feeling safe because you avoided the risk that your request might make them feel uncomfortable or that you will feel bad if they say "no"?

  • Do you say "no" when you want to say "no"?

    • Or do you more often try to feel safer by saying "yes" so as to avoid the other person's possible upset with you or you can avoid feeling guilty for being "selfish"?

  • Do you share your thoughts and feelings openly with others?​

    • Or do you keep things close to your chest so that you can avoid the risk that others may think that you're strange or selfish or not really someone they would like?​

  • Whenever you discover that someone lied to you, do you get curious about what they were trying to do for themselves by lying or about how your behavior may have contributed to them wanting to lie?​

    • Or do you get upset with them because you want to avoid the feeling of risk that you can't always rely on them to tell you the truth?​

  • Whenever you discover that someone doesn't trust you regarding some issue, do you show curiosity and respect regarding the fact that they distrust you (regardless of whether or not you are actually trustworthy in that circumstance)?​

    • Or do you blame them for not trusting you in your attempt to feel safer in the face of the fact that they currently don't trust you regarding a particular issue?​

  • Whenever you are making plans or agreements with yourself and/or with others, do you accept fully the risks that your plans and agreements may not turn out as projected either 1) because something you didn't know or think of when you made the plans, or 2) because you didn't keep an agreement with yourself as planned or 3) because someone else did not keep their agreement with you?​

    • Or did you avoid admitting such risks by creating expectations that things will go as planned and both you and others will keep their agreements, thereby setting yourself up for upset (either with yourself or with others) if things don't go as planned?​

  • Whenever you have a conflict with another, do you approach it with an attitude of partnership to find a way that you can both be happy?​

    • Or do avoid the feeling of risk associated with trying to create a win-win and instead get defensive with them to try to feel safer?​

  • Whenever you first feel a conflict with someone, do you bring it up and address it early on?​

    • Or do you avoid the risk of doing that and instead let the conflict repeat again and again, building up until there's a crisis?​

  • Whenever you feel a conflict with another regarding taking care of your own self-interests, do you bring it up with the other person with the intention of trying to find a win-win?

    • Or do you keep your mouth shut because of your fear that the other person will blame you for "being selfish"?​

  • Do you plan out your budget regularly, making sure you include a portion of your income for a buffer/savings account?​

    • Or do you avoid the fear associated with making difficult income/spending/savings decisions that would be required if you budgeted regularly?

  • Do you plan out and schedule your day regularly?

    • Or do you avoid the fears associated with making that daily plan, the fear that it will take away your spontaneity, the fear that you'll have to make difficult choices of what to do and not to do, the fear of being disappointed in yourself at the end of the day when you may have have gotten everything done?​

  • Do you set goals and really go for them, even though you cannot guarantee their success?​

    • Or do you only plan to do things or go for things that can be mostly guaranteed because you feel safer than going for something that cannot be guaranteed?​

  • Do you keep your primary focus on the effective execution of the processes of your life?​

    • Or do you put your primary focus on getting the results because this makes you feel safer?​

  • Do you keep your primary focus on whether you choose courage or not?​

    • Or do you judge yourself by the results that you got or didn't get, thinking you are safer by focusing on the results?​

  • Do you accept that romantic/life partnership relationships are risky and that feeling too safe can actually be bad for the relationship?​

    • Or do you try to guarantee and make your relationship safe "until death do we part," thereby setting up an environment where each of you is likely to take the other one for granted?​

  • Do you accept a level of risk in order to create and maintain a job and career choice that excites you and is fulfilling?​

    • Or do you prioritize stability and security in your job at the expense of the the possibility of having that fulfilling job?​

  • When you encounter someone who believes something that conflicts with your own belief, does it stimulate you to wonder what you might not know that could modify or challenge the validity of in your own current belief?​

    • Or do you try to feel safer by putting your main focus on trying to change their belief and finding even more evidence that your belief is the valid belief?​

  • Whenever you have a conflict with someone, are your first thoughts, "How might I be contributing to this conflict? What might I do differently here?"​

    • Or do you try to feel safer by putting your first focus on how it's their fault and others would agree with you?​

  • When someone else doesn't do what you want, do you accept the limitations of your power to make them do what you want?​

    • Or do you avoid feeling that sense of powerlessness by criticizing them, blaming them, punishing them, often ineffectively and at big costs?​

  • Whenever you notice a conflict between your Now and your Next, do you prioritize resolving that conflict?​

    • Or do you allow the conflict to continue in order to avoid the fears of both your Now and your Next that each of them may have to give up something if they negotiate...and to also avoid the fear that you'll be disappointed if you couldn't find a solution?​

  • Whenever you notice a conflict between your Oneself and your Others, do you prioritize resolving that conflict?​

    • Or do you allow the conflict to continue in order to avoid the fears of both your Oneself and Your Others that each of them may have to give up something if they negotiate...and to also avoid the fear that you'll be disappointed because you couldn't find a solution?​

  • Do you accept the fear and risk of choosing a life where you're true to yourself?​

    • Or do you go for the feeling of safety by trying to fulfill the expectations of others?​

Beware the allure of safety

The benefits associated with feeling safe or even being safe can easily incur bigger costs (that is, bigger benefits given up).

Having a great life is about getting the better deals in the trade-offs. There is no benefit or possibility without cost and risk. There is no cost or risk without benefits and possibilities. For yourself. For others. Short-term. Long-term. 

These are all the basic parameters. 

We are wired to want to feel safe. That's good. It kept your ancestors alive in the hunter-gather days (and before). You wouldn't be here today if it weren't for that. Their DNA is your DNA.

The strong prioritization of feeling safe was a pretty good built-in heuristic in those days, in the environments that existed then.

"Is the rustling in the grass a tiger or not?"

"Am I accepted by my tribal members or not?"

"Will they have my back if I have a problem or will they shun me?"

Our environment changed dramatically. Our DNA did not. We can no longer rely on the automatic allure of feeling safe as the best heuristic for having a successful life. That's why making friends with our fear and choosing courage need to become our primary focus, our primary "virtue."