Why Safety is Terrifying
From a Psychological Perspective
People believe safety is comfortable, but I believe safety is terrifying. Safety is an idea that society has created to lie to us, to tell us that we are protected, when in reality, we are all exposed constantly to dangers that some may not even realize they are exposed to. When you walk outside, what’s to keep someone from running you over with their car? I’d be lying if I said I never considered, either for a brief moment or a lengthier time as my car rolled forward toward the person walking across the street naively, running that person over with my car just to see what would happen. When you eat dinner, what is to stop another from grabbing a knife and hacking away at you? How violent, you think, but have you never had even the slightest momentary thought where you pictured hurting someone?
What I find fascinating is that a grand majority of us do nothing about these ideas. Whether to avoid punishment by law or stick with our morals, we do not hurt each other, yet we fantasize about it quite often. Movies, television, books, and newspapers contain a large amount of violence daily, yet we don’t give in to the vicious cycle that society (consciously or unconsciously) promotes. More than that, we believe we are safe all the time.
I hate feeling safe. To feel safe is to be placated in a way that leaves you unprepared for the unexpected, leaving you vulnerable to being caught off-guard and susceptible to more harm. Safety goes beyond the discussion of the possibility of violence, however. Nowadays, feeling safe in certain ideas causes more harm than explicit violent acts do.
Would you like an example? Because I am not cisgender, I have been told that “no one would love me” by one of my parents. They may not have physically hurt me, but to this day, I still feel my heart being ripped out of my chest whenever I recall them saying those words to me. I wanted to take my life not long after, one of the main reasons being I believed I would forever be unloved and alone because of what they said. No one prepared me for my parent to say that to my face in the middle of the day on a pleasant weekend day, but because I was so shocked out of my safety zone by that one event, I don’t think anyone could ever hurt my feelings or pride when it comes to that subject. Nothing anyone says could compare to hearing those words come out of my parent’s mouth. I won’t lull myself into that feeling of safety, but that doesn’t mean I won’t live my best life and be my authentic self. It simply means I’ve formed a barrier that no insults can cut through, and no violence toward me could make me regret who I am.
The parent that said that to me denies having said it, which is outrageous in my mind and yet also makes more sense than anything else. Why? Because they feel safe in their belief that they would never say something so cruel to their child, so much so that they completely blocked out that memory and believe it never happened. It’s a form of gaslighting in a way, mostly unconsciously toward me since they assure me they never said those heartbreaking words to me, but also it’s gaslighting themselves since they are distorting their memories because they do not know what to do to face up to the reality that they said that. They can’t imagine themselves saying that, so they deny that it happened. Unfortunately, it matches my parent’s personality completely to gaslight themselves into believing they did nothing wrong and lull themselves into that feeling of safety towards themselves. It’s easier for them to pretend it didn’t happen than to have to deal with the consequences of their actions.
“The axe forgets what the tree remembers” is an African proverb that fits this scenario exactly.
Suppose we fall into the idea of safety where we think we are safe from others but also that we are safe ourselves. In that case, we end up being unable to face the dark reality that we are all flawed, but even more so, we are left unable to correct ourselves for our wrong behavior and beliefs.
I come from a family line where their beliefs are against my own, and I hate listening to them talk about theirs at the dinner table because they do not realize how offensive everything they say is. All of my family members would deny being racist, xenophobic, and sexist. A few would deny being homophobic. Maybe one or two would deny being transphobic. They believe they are safe and right in their thinking, when really, they all have hurtful, offensive thoughts toward groups of people that only contribute to all the downfalls in society. It’s almost hilarious to me how not a single one of them sees it.
All we have to do is embrace that which is not traditionally “safe” in our minds, and suddenly all aspects of the world are shown to us in all of their glory. While you might feel safe sticking with a single idea, it could be hurting others. So embrace the unknown. You don’t understand something? Good, that’s the perfect opportunity to learn more about it and make judgments once you are fully informed. Just because you are informed doesn’t mean you can be content with being safe, however. If new information comes along that shocks you out of your bones, don’t push it away. Find out more. Walk into the unknown and unsafe even if it feels uncomfortable or scary.
The reality is you are never safe, you just feel comfortable so you believe you are. It is the feeling of being comfortable and safe that prevents change. No one would evolve and become better people if they did not step out of their comfort zones every once and a while. You can’t make progress by staying in the same place.
Safety is terrifying because it means everything will stay the same, and thus nothing will get better. It’s a false feeling―a lie―that convinces you to do nothing because nothing bad will happen to you.
About the Creator
An aspiring writer who has a passion for mental health and telling stories
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