The real threat to your abstract safety

Safety is essential.

In our prehistory, sometimes you’d get unlucky. It didn’t matter how fast, strong or perceptive you were, there’d always be something to make you twist your ankle.

Think about how unpleasant that is in a world with desk jobs and cars. Now imagine your main source of protein came from chasing gazelle until they collapse from exhaustion.

Sometimes, you need to be able to withdraw from the action to let yourself recover.

That’s safety for you – a chance to stop minor setbacks blossoming into fatal circumstances.

In Western Civilisation, we’re physically safer. It’s not perfect, of course, but it’s beyond the most idyllic fantasies of a hunter-gatherer. Freedom from predators and getting meat without fighting prey… I don’t know, maybe they’d find it boring. But I bet they didn’t imagine it was possible.

Safety can mean more than just the physical, though.

Now, there’s a financial dimension to it. How much cash do you have in the bank to get you through lean times? How much money could you earn if you were bedridden? Those questions become more relevant than your ability to heal a sore joint.

There’s the social dimension, too. It must have been so different, living in a tribe where everyone knew everyone. Back then, your social status was everything. Now? It sort of still is, except the tribe is potentially billions of strangers.

And what is social anxiety other than feeling unsafe in this strange new tribe?

Safety, in all its forms, is great.

If every day came with a fight for survival, we wouldn’t have the wealth and freedoms we do.

If every business mistake led to poverty, no one would innovate except the deluded and insane.

Socially, a single poorly-phrased tweet can go viral and wipe out your life. That wouldn’t have happened to our tribal ancestors – everyone would take what you say in the context of who you are. Plus you’d have the chance to clarify and apologise, if needed.

It’s a weird position to be in, if you think about it.

You can be ‘too safe’ physically – staying at home and never exercising, for example. That’ll stop tigers eating you or whatever… but it carries its own, slower dangers.

You can be ‘too safe’ financially. It makes sense to have a nest egg to fall back on in emergencies – I think the lockdowns have reminded us all of that. But you can hoard money to the point where you stop investing in yourself.

What about socially, though?

What does it mean to be ‘in danger’ or ‘too safe’ when a viral tweet or video – and not even your own – can make you Public Enemy #1?

I don’t have all the answers to those questions.

But I do know one strategy that’ll help – whether you think you’re too safe or too at-risk.

I explain this exercise on page 25 of this month’s Phronesis Accelerator.

Doing it won’t make you indestructible – but it’ll be the next best thing.

Grab it here and grab it fast, because this offer disappears in less than a day:

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