Safety Dance

You need to build up your tolerance to danger.

This is partially a parenting thing, but I think this advice applies to a whole heck of a lot of adults, too. You need to be unsafe. A lot. It’s good to have certain places and times of the day when you’re secure; it’s definitely a good thing to have a roof over your head and a door with a lock and a solid eight hours where you’re not on alert for predators of all kinds so you can get sleep.

But you shouldn’t stay there. If you have a safe place, a comfort zone, a secure location – leave it. Frequently and at great length.

This can manifest in a lot of different ways. When you’re young, it means using knives and building fires and climbing things. When you’re older, it means taking a lot of risks of all kinds. But you have to do it.

You are not, and never will be, 100% safe. You’re probably safer than most humans in history, but emergencies happen. And not only do you need to know how to deal with them, but you need to be the kind of person who can.

Why? Because there are few qualities that will serve you better in life than “calm under pressure.” Put yourself in danger, not just so you can learn to deal with that particular kind of danger in the future, but so you can calibrate your innate panic response to low and manageable levels.

There’s no ideal level of risk tolerance – it differs from person to person, and that’s okay. But no matter what your personal level is, you should operate about 10% outside of it on a regular basis.

There’s another element to training yourself out of reliance on safety, and it’s just as important as teaching yourself to be calm under pressure. It’s also an important element of your independence. An over-reliance on safety almost always entails a lack of decision-making power over your own life. If you’re afraid of being unemployed, then you’ll make bad choices to keep a job – even a bad job. You’ll sacrifice things you don’t want to sacrifice, behave in ways you wish you didn’t, all because of fear.

But if you train yourself not to be afraid of things, to feel confident in a crisis, then you’ll make the best choices for yourself. You’ll move when it’s time to move.

Go do something dangerous.

Let's get dangerous.
Let’s get dangerous.

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