if we feel unsafe then we can be overwhelmed. Feelings of overwhelming fear will debilitate us and all as being safe and secure is the most basic human need of all. But being safe and secure on its own is not enough as human beings aspire to and require a lot more. We need to be connected to other humans, we need to create and make and do and to exchange and nurture. And most fundamentally of all humans need meaning in their lives.
And what we learn over time is the profound understanding that there is a balance we must strive for between all of our human needs – and that no human need can ever be met in its entirety and forever and with complete satisfaction.
Indeed we can go further – that we learn that there may be trade-offs involved. That a little more of one need may require that we sacrifice a little of another. Of course this is not always the case as very often our various human needs can be reinforcing and this can be truly magnificent. For example, if we are working well in a supportive working environment, then we can find that we are meeting a range of needs around meaningful activity to supportive human interconnections. And as we feel better at work, so we are more able to develop more satisfying family relationships.
And so back to our need to feel safe, which was where we started and which is being exposed by the crisis. Our collective safety priority lockdown response has temporarily hidden the trade-off between the various and essential human needs. Thus, if we strive at all times just to be safe and to stay safe then we will discover that this impossible aspiration will never ever be met and we will fail also to meet many or most of all the our other essential human needs.
We need to find that balance at all times between safety and security and the striving for meaningful work and relationships. It’s actually about understanding risk. Afterall, we take risks all the time as we expose ourselves to danger, disappointment and loss in order to be able to feed ourselves and our family, to connect, to work satisfyingly and so on.
One consequence of the world that we are coming into after the pandemic crisis settles down is that there will be greater risk and uncertainty. Indeed we may feel greater fear as we face this uncertain future of even greater risk
How can we function well in a world of increased risk where we may have to accept an increased level of uncertainty and being more unsafe?
Are these doubts and uncertainties assailing you? If so listen to this audio and enjoy the full audio script that follows.
Getting scared when Lockdown ends audio
I need to feel safe in this new world of risk script
Here is an economics lesson for you. I’m going back more years than I am happy to remember from my university days as I share it with you. It’s about risk and uncertainty – what they mean and how very different they each are. Risk is a probability that you can measure, such as the probability that someone you know including yourself will die or become seriously ill in the next five years. There’s a lot of data around the experience of other people and you can make a good estimate. And there will have been risk measures of the likelihood of a pandemic developing over say a five-year period. Pretty low perhaps and maybe the estimates would have been very wrong but this would have been a factor of risk and therefore measurable in some sense.
What of uncertainty? This is a development in the future that you cannot measure the probability of and indeed you can’t really define it or put your hands on it. You just don’t know. And of course we live with uncertainty all the time because the future is never really known is it? And we all know that forecasting is a very fraught thing to do. “Never make forecasts, especially about the future” in the immortal words of Sam Goldwyn and he was right.”
And so we live with uncertainty all the time. Not really knowing what will happen – not the detail of it – the whys and the whats, the whos and the what ifs. Uncertainty is the air we breathe and like the fish, the water in which we swim. And yes, we may hold onto a rail that appears solid or be standing on a rock that appears firm but we never really know how solid for firm it is, do we? Yet we survive and we prosper and we plan and we prepare life as life is.
So just allow yourself to take all the time you need to slow down now, to settle down now as a sea can settle down when the wind calms and the waves gentle themselves. Or it might be that you can recall times when the sun begins to go down and the summer heat fades and there is a moment of calmness and stillness that becomes a long time. How I wonder is your body responding to the slowness and stillness and heaviness and your limbs deepen down you can feel the weight of your legs all the way down to the tips of your toes. That’s right you are relaxing now and opening yourself to all that you need, to prepare for the adventure of this new time that is coming now.
And you will remember and recall times from your past when you are so pleased and proud of what you had accomplished at that time – an exam passed, a friendship or a love that asked much of you, a project when you got something right or perhaps a great plan coming right. And it was a success of sorts, perhaps a great success. Stay with your accomplishments and your pride now and as you do you will feel the excitement and be aware of the adventure and the challenge and the risk that you took. You aimed a little higher or a great deal higher and the arrow swept up to its target. And at that moment you realised it was worth it and that accomplishment and achievement and success must be earned by effort, and even grind and disappointment at first. It may be a alluring thought to win a big lottery prize but that is not an achievement that you can be proud of, is it? So as you stay with the striving and the stretching and the aiming high, you can feel yourself readily re-energised to what may be now approaching. Fearfully excited and excited in your caution – yes that’s right.
But right now do you know that it is the not knowing and knowing very well the not knowing that is creating that doubt and desire to hold off and feel safe and hideaway even though the better part of you is holding onto that excitement. We never know everything or even very much do we? But in this moment you hear my voice and recall the adventures of the past you might be excited by the not knowing and the adventure of not knowing and the movement forward to higher vantage points so you can then look down and see where you have come from.
As you look back on this time now, on this lockdown and big change time and what will be the lessons that you have learnt I wonder? What will you have discovered of yourself that pleases you and what will you have learnt and relearned and rediscovered of your life now and your friends and your family that pleases you and encourages you and comforts you? And how they have been and how you have made them better and stronger? It will all be there as you look back and so now as you look forward – how good is that? And you are ready for the disappointments and you know you will learn and move and go higher still as you always have. Your arrow is aiming high.
Very good and now I will count down and you can return. 5 4 3 2 1
Do please listen to this again and again as you build up your muscles and regain your desire.
And do find time to look at my website andrewmrichardson.co.uk that’s right andrewmrichardson.co.uk.