Thursday, 3 January 2019

Thoughts on being better safe than sorry*

The definition of the saying 'Better Safe Than Sorry' is to be cautious so that you do not make a mistake you will later regret. People who are better safe than sorry to arrange and organize ahead of time so that they do not have to face negative consequences in the future. This may mean they are physically safe or that they are safe from bad events.

*this is a collaborative post on

Parents have always and probably always will tell their children that it's better to be safe than sorry, in the circumstances such as when they're out in the sun and they want their child to put suncream on - it makes sense, it's better to put it on than to be sorry later when you have sunburn. As you get older, we are inundated with even more advice, for example, it is better to go to the doctors, to find out about chlamydia symptoms, to take measures to protect yourself in certain situations or being sure you have some savings to fall back on. But it is always the case that it is better to be safe than sorry?

This saying goes against sayings like 'no risk, no reward,' as this promotes not staying safe, but risking something to get something in return and in business, this is quite a common way to work and a successful way to be. It is very difficult to build a thriving business by always staying safe and never taking chances.

In your personal life, there is no formula for safety. Just because you are concerned about something, doesn't mean that you will then be safe. For example, if you are concerned about flying, but someone else is very carefree about it, the two of you could be on the same flight and are both in the same situation, no one is safer or more in danger than the other. Worrying about things does not protect you from danger. To be safe, you need to be able to make good judgments, however, if you experience anxiety about safety, then this can easily get in the way of making a sound judgment.

Safety is not absolute, it is relative, and the idea that things are "safe" and "unsafe" is not sophisticated enough to optimize one's safety. To judge the safest course of action, you need to use the highest of your high-level thinking rather than the lowest of your low level, primitive fear reactions, and fear-based imagination.

Take this, for example, after the tragedy that was 9/11, the fear of terrorism led more people to drive rather than fly. As a result of this, there was a huge increase in road deaths. As more and more people encountered road traffic accidents, did that mean that more people were afraid of driving and getting in the car? No. Evolutionary instinct plays a role here, as it is ingrained in us to fear heights, but we have never evolved to fear speed, even though that is far more dangerous to us in modern times.

Yet the fact that driving or riding in a car means that you are solidly on the ground, when you drive you have the steering wheel firmly in your hands and you are likely to feel more in control. Flying is actually far, far safer than driving, even when you factor in terrorism. So knowing when you're safe isn't as simple as you might think! 

1 comment :

  1. I totally agree that worrying won't keep you safe and so I definitely try to work on my anxiety in that sense. I think making better informed judgement calls is so important.

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