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The Safety Trap

I have just finished an interesting book entitled The Safety Trap by Spencer Coursen. Spencer Coursen is a risk management expert that has provided risk management and security services to numerous professional and celebrity clients. The subtitle of the book is “A Security Experts Secrets for Staying Safe in a Dangerous World”. It is written to help people be more diligent in their personal safety. I read it as part of a personal effort to learn skills that will cause me to be more aware of my surroundings. However, as I read the book, I was quite surprised about how much of his work applies to the topic of self-reliance. This week I want to share some excerpts from the book that reinforced or increased my understanding of self-reliance.

“When our vigilance goes down, our risk goes up. … [A] simple truth that you may not want to believe, but I promise is 100 percent factual: you are most in danger when you feel the most safe.” (The Safety Trap, Spencer Coursen, p. 6)

“If you choose to ignore today’s concerns, you will forced to confront tomorrow’s crisis.” (ibid. p.21)

“Awareness + Preparation = Safety.

“Awareness of the realistic risks we are most likely to face allows for us to fine-tune our aperture to those warning signs of harm that provide the necessary framework for us to be able to act in a preventive and precautionary fashion. But there is such a thing as over-awareness. There is such a thing as too much information. Today’s crying wolf is what is known as alarm fatigue, and this overexposure to all the warning signs is having the opposite effect of what they were intended to provide.” (ibid. p.141)

“When it comes to staying safe, one of the biggest security challenges has always been that what is convenient is rarely secure and what is secure is rarely convenient.” (ibid. p. 144)

“We are most fascinated by what we see the most but experience the least” (ibid. p. 146)

“Those very same people who are so anxious about their inability to keep themselves safe are the very same people who willingly engage with social media promotions of tragedy while also allowing themselves to sink deeper into the Safety Trap mindset of “It can’t happen to me”. And they can justify this action to themselves because, once again, they were right. This tragedy did not impact them, at least directly.” (ibid. p.152)

“What helped set me apart from my peers was that I learned very early in my career that I was a million times more valuable to my clients when I could prevent rather than effectively react to a concern. … A true protector looks for the warning signs. … I learned the importance of a good plan. … I would plan the attack, and then I would reverse engineer the attack plan to make sure I have the necessary safeguards in place. I learned this by implementing as many concentric rings of security as possible.” (ibid. p.159-60)

“I always hoped for the best, but I always expected the worst.” (ibid. p.161)

“The optimism bias is why we are more prone to saying “I feel lucky” when we are projecting the likelihood of something good but are more likely to say, “that can’t happen to me” when we are projecting the likelihood of something bad. In fact, the optimism bias may even be part of the reason why we are predisposed to finding some amount if entertainment in negative news. While we may feel a slight increase in our anxiety each time we are made aware of something bad happening to someone else, the fallacy of “It can’t happen to me” is equally reinforced.” (ibid. p.171)

“Identifying an inherent vulnerability and then taking the necessary steps to making that bad thing better is infinitely more preferred to the realization that this vulnerability existed only after it has been exploited.” (ibid. p. 174)

Hard work and sacrifice mut be accepted as your reality. In the end, your commendation for action will not come in the form of applause, congratulations, and certainly not a trophy but rather in knowing that you and your loved ones will sleep in peace some future night because of your preparations today.” (ibid. p. 340-41)

The truth is that whether you consider personal safety, food safety, access to safe food and water, or health and medical safety this is the safest time in the history of the world. We enjoy a time of unparalleled safety and security and yet we live in a state of high anxiety. Most people obviously feel safe in almost every way because they do very little to personally provide for their own safety. As a people, we are fully willing to outsource all our safety issues to others. We outsource our personal safety to police and fire personnel. We outsource our health safety to doctors, hospitals, and pharmaceutical companies. We outsource our water supply to public or private entities that feed water to our homes. We outsource our energy needs to large companies with massive interconnected systems. We outsource our food supply to massive collection of entities that grow, process, and distribute virtually everything we put in our bodies.

One of the issues that concerns me every time I write a blog is the issue of alarm fatigue. I don’t want to yell “wolf” too often. Yet, I feel a grave responsibility to acquaint readers with the risks that I perceive in society. Awareness + Preparation = Safety. One purpose of The Self-Reliant Community is to promote both awareness and preparation and provide ideas that may help individuals and families with both topics. My Awareness + My Preparation = My Safety and Your Awareness + Your Preparation = Your Safety. But I also know that no individual can fully provide for their own preparation or safety. It does take a group effort. As we have previously learned, there is just too much to do to prosper alone in an emergency.

I hope that my efforts to bring awareness do not cause alarm fatigue because that condition is ultimately fatal. Every time we see a problem around us and that problem does not cause a personal issue, we naturally reinforce the idea that “it won’t happen to me”. That attitude prevents us from taking any action to prepare. Awareness without action (preparation) is actually worse that no awareness at all because we become more secure in our belief that we are safe. Remembering the first statement from Coursen, we are most in danger when we feel the safest.

Identifying and removing our vulnerabilities related to self-reliance is the method that will prevent those vulnerabilities from damaging or destroying us and our loved ones. Those actions will never by lauded by the masses; more likely you will be targeted as a loony for trying to eliminate vulnerabilities. But one day, your and your family will have peace because of your efforts now. Persevere and be wise.

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