Wired for Safety

Research in neuroscience has confirmed we are wired for safety and security.

What does this mean in our everyday life, and in terms of our close relationships?

1. In summary, through the use of our senses, our brain is constantly trying to assess if we’re in a situation that is safe or dangerous. This includes assessing our relationships.

2. This process takes place outside of conscious awareness; it’s something that happens automatically.

3. We’re continually scanning the environment, and reading and weighing the non-verbal cues, to create a clearer picture of ‘what is going on’.

4. If we feel at risk at all, we’re immediately on guard. Everything within us is preprogrammed and designed to adopt a position a position of suspicion and defense. (Since the primary goal is to protect us from harm.)  

5. When we’re on high alert we can’t ignore things and relax. We really need to know if we’re safe or we’re at risk, abs this person is a threat, and how serious a threat.

6. This is especially true when we’ve been betrayed or harmed, and especially if it happened in our close relationships. These experiences have taught us: ‘It isn’t safe to trust. People can deceive us; they don’t always care for us – despite what they might say, and despite what we expect.’

7. In the case where we have doubts, then we won’t want to connect. We won’t want to engage. We won’t risk being vulnerable. Even if our friends, or our logic, say we should.  All thee non-verbal cues are going to take precedence. We can’t make ourselves feel safe, when we don’t feel safe.

8. When trust has been destroyed, it takes time to trust again. And, unfortunately, we can’t speed this process up. Even if that person is trustworthy today. Even if we through reason we can rationally conclude that: “They’ve absolutely changed, and they truly care for us.”

Our brain won’t take that risk. It will always overrule.

9. When enough time has passed (and this can be a long, long time), and our brain has amassed sufficient evidence, it can slowly begin to be vulnerable again. However, the ability to do this relies on:

(a) us taking our time, and not feeling pressurized

(b) the evidence being reliably consistent over many months, or years.

10. We don’t trust “all at once”. We take hesitating steps, and we carefully assess if that move was wise – or not.

So, over time, we can learn to relax and trust again. But we’ll always be on guard, and be quick to notice signs that we could be at risk of being hurt or harmed again.   

Trust takes years to build, seconds to break, and forever to repair.” – Unknown

10 thoughts on “Wired for Safety

  1. Thank you for saying that people who have experienced trauma or betrayal need time to heal. Often lots of time. As you’ve said before, trusting/forgiving someone who has victimized you can wait. Focus on your own healing first.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Communication is so important for trust. I’m becoming wiser daily. I didn’t understand how much I didn’t understand about fear and trust… Until I did a trust fall into Jesus’ arms. No matter my fears or ignorance He never let me go. My life is His completely 🙏

    Liked by 1 person

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