(Estimated reading time 2 minutes)
Perhaps life should come with a safety announcement like the one you receive when boarding an aircraft.
Turbulence seems to come at the most unexpected times. One can be figuratively flying along through life’s calm skies when suddenly, for no apparent reason, the flight is no longer smooth. The thought of always being prepared – with seatbelt buckled, keeping safe – is appealing at first. It’s appropriate when flying, but does it work to live with the anticipation and expectation of trouble? Somehow the thought of keeping buckled continuously and prepared for turbulence seems like it would come with its own set of problems. These thoughts take me back to an earlier time in my life when being emotionally and physically safe was a high priority. There are crisis times in life when this is entirely appropriate, but mine was not a crisis – just a way of being. In focusing on safety, one would think feelings of peace, security and relaxation would be prominent in one’s life. After all, you’ve taken all kinds of precautions so that you are protected from the vague sense of threat that permeates your life. You’ve put things in place to minimize potential turmoil. It’s safer. It helps you to feel calm and relaxed, right?
My own experience with this tells me that the more I focused on safety, the more I was filled with fear and paranoia. There was no peace, no calm, no time to relax. I was always on guard – alert, thinking and protecting myself. With safety first, the only way forward was to make my life smaller and smaller – take fewer risks, have fewer interactions with others, stifle anything in me that was not entirely safe. At least I felt like that was the only way forward. It turns out that on a starvation diet of safety, I slowly became a shell of a human.
My journey has been one from fear to freedom. I’ve learned to unbuckle my seat belt, figuratively speaking, because most of the time life is about living not about keeping safe.
There is no greater threat to the critics and cynics and fearmongers than those of us who are willing to fall because we have learned how to rise. Brene Brown