Sharing our Wisdom

Life is anything but safe. It is full of risk and uncertainty. If we are fortunate, we may have moments, weeks, months, even years of feeling safe. People hold different perspectives about whether those times of feeling safe are real or illusory. After all, unanticipated things can and do happen to us and to other people in our lives. As many of us know all too well, these events can happen at any time, often when we least expect it. But most of the time they don’t, and that allows us times that we can relax and rest in the psychological womb of feeling safe.

Feeling safe is important. We need to feel safe to be willing to take risks. On the face of it, this sounds contradictory, and indeed, it is a paradox. For example, we need to feel safe with another person—to trust them and believe in their fundamental goodness—to take the risk of becoming vulnerable with them. Whether we are developing a very close friendship with someone or choosing to explore deeper emotional and physical intimacy, most of us need to feel a considerable degree of confidence that we will not be exploited, abused, or otherwise hurt by the person with whom we are choosing to share our more intimate selves.

Some of us have a greater need to feel safe than others and we crave different types of safety. For example, one woman may feel a strong need to be safe physically but is willing to take risks in the world, such as starting a business or living on her own. Another may feel a strong aversion to change. She prefers to keep the same line of work, live in the same home and avoid change unless absolutely necessary. Yet this same woman may be willing to open her heart to others with trust, confidence and little fear of being hurt.

With age, we have experienced some hard knocks and sobering experiences that make us realize how illusory our sense of safety can be. Most of us tend to become more cautious as we age and safety becomes more important to us in some realms. Yet, there are other ways in which we may feel freer to take certain kinds of risks as we get older. Let’s explore these ideas.

Questions to Consider:
1) How important has it been to you to feel safe? In what domains is this most important?
2) Given your life experience, do you experience life as fundamentally safe or dangerous?
3) How has your willingness to take different types of risks changed as you have gotten older?
4) When you think about your overall personality, do you see yourself as more of a risk-taker or more as someone who seeks and requires a great deal of safety?
5) What kinds of safety do you need in order to take different kinds of risks?

Created by Dr. Beth Firestein for Wise Women Group. [Copyright 2019]