Social Safety Nets

This post is about a particular, wrong framing that keeps people from learning the skills of Part II. Part II is something vegetarians will have a much easier time learning/solving, but normal people can still learn it.

Many people reading Part II are missing the main point, saying things like “I already know what social signalling is”. That’s not the point I meant to make, but no worries.

Probably what is going on here is that a nonverbal part of your mind feels safer if you refuse to learn what I’m trying to communicate, because doing what you want, as per my definitions, might cause people to reject you. That’s fair enough; safety is a legit desire.

Sometimes emdr is helpful for this. Sometimes going to a retreat is enough to “fix” this. “Fix” in quotes, because what you really want to do is to listen to that part and incorporate its wishes for safety into yourself, e.g. take its desires 100% seriously and not as just something to be fixed. That’s like, the whole meaning of doing what you want: taking your emotions as something to be listened to, until you listen to them just right and learn what they were trying to tell you all along.

Anyways, this post is about a specific emotion that seems to block people from being able to understand Part II. Namely that, most people feel that learning the stuff here might be unsafe, as if your place in your social group might be lost if you learn this stuff. If you’re new to introspection, maybe this manifests as you feeling uncertain or apprehensive but having some interest in what I’m saying–if that’s the case, try to listen to your feelings of uncertainty and see if there’s more to them, perhaps along the lines of what I’ve just described. Sometimes this also manifests as “wow, learning the mental tech from this blog would be a great idea, I’ll have to make myself try it sometime”, and then never trying it because it takes effort to do so.

So, let’s imagine in a bit more detail what troubleshooting this could look like.

This could look like someone talking with themselves, and then the “I want safety” part being like “no I don’t trust you I’m scared”. Followed by them coming up with a plan to satisfy the “I want safety” part’s values, and executing on it. One idea would be: spend an hour trying to make new friends who like you for who you are, and not for who you present yourself as.

If you try the above and you can’t even communicate with the “I want safety” part of yourself, you can try talking out loud to it, as if it’s another person, and then wait for it to answer.

If you try finding new friends who accept you for who you are and not for how you present yourself, it’s still possible that your “I want safety” won’t feel any better after. If that happens, just try your best to ask it what that part of you wants instead. Maybe cutting off a controlling partner or family member is more important to it? If you don’t get an answer, make an educated guess about what it wants, and just do that.

A very incomplete list of things that make people feel unsafe, as if they have to appease others to survive, are:

  • Not having friends who like you for who you are
  • Having friends/family/partners who will withhold affection or support if you don’t do something (like, get good grades, or offer them your submission)*
  • Having lots of acquaintances, but no close friends who would like, have your back in a fight (hanging out 1-on-1 is good for making closer friends)
  • Believing you need to do a specific thing to be “good” or “safe”, e.g. get good grades, earn lots of money, have certain politics, etc*
  • Not having enough money to survive if you get fired* (or, fear that you don’t have enough, even if you do)
  • Being part of a cult (looking at you, Effective Altruism)

* Some things do actually make you unsafe, so if you want to work around this, maybe build a new social safety net first, and then try troubleshooting the actual fear of being unsafe once it’s no longer a big issue. Or work on building a social safety net at the same time as you learn this mental tech, knowing you won’t be able to learn the full version until you feel mostly safe, but that both processes can speed each other up.

Next Post: Doing What You Want