Logo

    Escape the Safety Trap

    When faced with online harassment, refrain from engaging with the perpetrator. Instead, focus on reporting their actions and preserving evidence. Prioritize your safety and seek help when needed. Explore additional resources in "The Safety Trap" by Spencer Coursen.

    enJuly 20, 2022

    About this Episode

    We like to think that our personal safety and the safety of our loved ones is something that other people — law enforcement, school administrators, social media moderators — will take care of for us. 

    My guest today, Spencer Coursen, would say that while this mindset may help us feelsafe, it's actually when we feel the most safe, that we're in the greatest danger. Spencer — who's a combat veteran and a threat management expert — calls this paradox "the safety trap," and he's the author of a book of the same name. Today on the show, Spencer shares the factors that can put us in the safetytrap, and ways to escape it. We discuss how an avoidance mindset and a reliance on false authority can put us in greater danger, how the run-hide-fight rubric for responding to an active shooter has been misapplied, and how being too polite can get you killed. From there we turn to ways you can take responsibility for your own safety, including knowing the warning signs that someone may take violent action and staying physically fit. We also discuss what to do if people are sending you potentially threatening messages online.

    Resources Related to the Podcast

    Connect With Spencer Coursen

    🔑 Key Takeaways

    • Taking ownership of our own safety is crucial, as relying on others can actually make us more vulnerable. By staying proactive and alert, we can effectively navigate potential threats and dangers in our surroundings.
    • Feeling safe can lead to complacency and increase our risk. We must actively participate in our own safety, maintaining skepticism and vigilance to avoid falling into the trap of complacency.
    • Confronting problems and questioning authority is essential for personal growth and effectively addressing challenges.
    • In a life or death situation, prioritize your own safety by running and creating distance. It is important for schools, workplaces, and parents to have plans in place that prioritize individual safety and empower individuals to make decisions based on their own survival.
    • Prioritizing survivability involves questioning authority, understanding the intention behind policies, and addressing underlying issues such as mental health, disenfranchisement, bullying, and neglect to prevent tragedies in schools and workplaces.
    • Recognizing behavioral anomalies and unusual actions can help detect potential threats, even without direct communication. Pay attention to patterns and communicate concerns to prevent harm.
    • By addressing grievances, promoting physical fitness, and teaching children to trust their instincts, individuals and communities can effectively prevent violence and create safer environments.
    • Parents should teach children proactive strategies for safety, such as identifying safe places and engaging in open conversations to address fears, enabling them to make informed decisions and replace anxiety with understanding.
    • Trust your instincts and be aware of red flags when encountering potentially predatory communication, as it could pose a legitimate threat. Use your self-defense mechanism to protect yourself from harm.
    • Documenting incidents of harassment is essential for protecting yourself. It helps establish patterns and can provide evidence in potentially dangerous situations, saving you from harm.
    • When faced with online harassment, refrain from engaging with the perpetrator. Instead, focus on reporting their actions and preserving evidence. Prioritize your safety and seek help when needed. Explore additional resources in "The Safety Trap" by Spencer Coursen.

    📝 Podcast Summary

    The Importance of Personal Responsibility in Personal Safety

    Personal safety requires taking responsibility for our own well-being. While it's natural to rely on others for our safety, such as law enforcement or social media moderators, this mindset can actually make us more vulnerable. Spencer Coursen, a Threat Management Expert, refers to this reliance as the Safety Trap. He explains that feeling safe can sometimes lead to the greatest danger. Instead, we should be proactive in recognizing warning signs, staying physically fit, and being aware of potential threats. Coursen also discusses the importance of avoiding false authority and being assertive when necessary. Ultimately, by taking ownership of our safety and understanding the factors that put us at risk, we can effectively navigate a dangerous world.

    The Safety Trap: Balancing Vigilance and Complacency

    Feeling safe can actually be the most dangerous thing we do. The safety trap occurs when our vigilance goes down and our risk goes up. We often live our lives on a pendulum swing between hyper-vigilance and complacency. It's important to understand that safety is not an end point, but a journey that requires our individual participation. We need a healthy sense of skepticism and a moderate dose of vigilance to stay safe. Examples like mass shootings and the COVID pandemic show how quickly we can fall back into complacency after feeling worried or taking precautions. It's crucial to recognize that complacency puts us at risk and that we are responsible for our own safety.

    The dangers of avoidance and false authority

    Avoiding problems and relying on false authority can lead to complacency and create safety traps. Avoidance often stems from a lack of understanding or the belief that ignoring a problem will make it go away. However, this only allows the problem to fester and grow, eventually turning into a crisis. In order to address concerns and prevent future difficulties, we must step out of our comfort zone and confront issues head-on. Similarly, relying on false authority can be detrimental in emergency situations. It is important to question the qualifications and intentions of those presumed to be experts, and to prioritize our own best interests. By practicing avoidance and avoiding false authority, we can develop the necessary skills, confidence, and awareness to tackle challenges effectively.

    Prioritizing Safety: Understanding the Run, Hide, Fight Approach

    In a life and death situation, it is important to prioritize your own safety and be your own authority. The run, hide, fight approach has been misapplied and misunderstood, leading to potential dangers. The focus should be on running and putting as much distance between oneself and the threat as possible. Schools and workplaces should provide safe havens for individuals to go to in case of an active shooter situation. Parents should also have a plan in place to ensure the safety of their children. It is crucial to understand that false authority can be misleading and individuals have the right to make decisions based on their own survival. When it comes to personal safety, you are your own authority.

    Questioning Authority and Prioritizing Survivability in Crisis Situations

    Prioritizing survivability is crucial in crisis situations. It's important to question false authority and not blindly follow protocols that may put you in harm's way. Being disagreeable doesn't mean being disgruntled for the sake of it, but rather speaking truth to stupidity. We must understand the intention and direction behind policies and question their effectiveness. In the case of school shootings and workplace attacks, insider threats are often the culprits. The pathway to violence usually starts within these environments, where grievances are first manifested. Mental health concerns, even without diagnosed illnesses, can contribute to such acts. Disenfranchisement, bullying, and neglect can push individuals towards seeking attention through harmful actions. It is crucial to address these underlying issues and provide support to prevent tragedies.

    Identifying internal threats through grievances and ideation process

    Identifying a grievance is crucial in the assessment of internal threats. Whenever there is a threat, there is always a grievance involved. Whether it's someone expressing hatred or disruptive rhetoric, it is important to determine the root cause and when it shifted from a benign situation to a potentially harmful one. Furthermore, understanding the process of ideation is essential in recognizing potential leakage of intentions. These individuals often come up with a plan to resolve their grievances, which could involve violence, blackmail, or smear campaigns. Detecting behavioral anomalies and unusual actions can help identify potential threats, even if the person doesn't directly communicate their intentions. It is important to pay attention to these patterns and communicate concerns to prevent harm.

    Early intervention, physical fitness, and balanced perspectives are crucial for preventing violence and promoting well-being.

    Early intervention is crucial in redirecting potentially violent individuals towards peaceful resolutions. By addressing underlying grievances and providing support, organizations and communities have the last chance to identify and prevent harmful actions. Additionally, maintaining physical fitness not only enhances personal safety but also reduces anxiety and depression. Regular exercise channels excess energy into productive outlets and fosters mental well-being. Physical fitness offers protection on multiple levels - self, family, and community - by equipping individuals with the confidence and ability to respond effectively in emergency situations. Overprotecting children can create safety traps, as it inhibits their ability to seek help when needed. Teaching children to trust their instincts and approach trusted adults fosters a balanced perspective on stranger danger and promotes their well-being.

    Empowering Children to Stay Safe and Make Informed Decisions

    Parents should empower their children to stay safe without instilling unnecessary fear. Instead of simply warning them about potential dangers, parents should teach their children proactive strategies. This can include identifying safe places like food establishments with permits, families with adults present, and flags on buildings or uniforms. By creating a natural operating language for children to assess their surroundings, parents can help their children make informed decisions about who to approach for help. Additionally, parents should not dismiss their children's fears but instead engage in open conversations to address their concerns logically and provide real data. This approach enables children to replace emotional anxiety with understanding and sound decision-making.

    Differentiating Disruptive and Predatory Communication

    It is important to distinguish between disruptive communication and predatory communication. Disruptive communication often comes from individuals who are unhappy with their own lives and try to project their discontent onto others. They may leave negative reviews, send negative messages, or engage in trolling behavior. On the other hand, predatory communication involves a level of insider information and may pose a legitimate threat. When encountering potentially predatory communication, it is crucial to trust our instincts and pay attention to any red flags. If something feels off or weird, it is our subconscious telling us to take action and investigate further. Our self-defense mechanism is highly evolved, and we should use it to protect ourselves from potential harm.

    Documenting Inappropriate Behaviors: A Crucial Step for Self-Protection

    Documenting inappropriate behaviors and harassment is crucial for self-protection. If you receive a disturbing message or encounter any form of harassment that makes you feel uneasy, don't dismiss it. Take the time to document the incident. Having a record of these behaviors over time can help establish a pattern of harassment or fear-inducing actions. By documenting each instance, you build a solid case to protect yourself. This was evident in a real-life scenario where a female employee faced harassment from a male co-worker, both at work and outside of it. When the situation escalated to the point of potential danger, the evidence saved her from harm. Remember, even if you document such incidents, it is best to avoid responding to the harasser and maintain a consistent stance of non-engagement.

    Dealing with Online Harassment: Ignoring, Reporting, and Protecting Yourself.

    When dealing with online harassment or stalking, it is important not to engage with the perpetrator. Instead, ignore their actions and focus on reporting them to the appropriate authorities. Blocking or deleting them may only lead them to target you through different means that are harder to track. By keeping a record of their behavior, such as taking screenshots and emailing them to yourself, you can maintain evidence that may be useful if legal action is needed in the future. Remember to prioritize your safety and seek help if necessary. To learn more about the topic, you can explore Spencer Coursen's book, "The Safety Trap," or visit his website and social media channels for additional resources and support.

    Recent Episodes from The Art of Manliness

    Patton and the Bulge: Blood, Guts, and Prayer

    Patton and the Bulge: Blood, Guts, and Prayer

    General George S. Patton is known for his aggressive, action-oriented tactical brilliance.

    His character was also marked by a lesser-known but equally fundamental mystic piety.

    Those two qualities would come together in the lead up to and execution of Patton's greatest achievement during WWII: the relief of Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge.

    Alex Kershaw tells this story in his new book Patton's Prayer: A True Story of Courage, Faith, and Victory in World War II. Today on the show, Alex shares how, when the Third Army's advance into Germany was stalled by plane-grounding clouds and road-muddying rain, Patton commissioned a prayer for better weather that was distributed to a quarter million of his men, and how that prayer became even more urgent after the commencement of the Battle of the Bulge. We also talk about Patton's qualities as a leader and a man, including his reading habits, how he combined a profane assertiveness with a pious faith and a belief in reincarnation, and what happened to him as the war came to a close.

    Resources Related to the Podcast

    Connect With Alex Kershaw

    Book cover of
    The Art of Manliness
    enMay 20, 2024

    Embracing the Strive State

    Embracing the Strive State

    We often think happiness will be found in the completion of a goal. We often think happiness will be found in ease and comfort. My guest says real joy is found in the journey rather than the destination, and that if difficulty and discomfort are part of that journey, that's all the better.

    Dr. Adam Fraser is a peak performance researcher and the author of Strive: Embracing the Gift of Struggle. Today on the show, we talk about what Adam calls the "strive state," where we have to grow and be courageous to tackle a meaningful challenge, and why this state is the source of the greatest fulfillment in life. We discuss why we often resist embracing the strive state and what happens when we don't have to struggle in life. We also talk about what successful strivers do differently.

    Resources Related to the Podcast

    Connect With Adam Fraser

    Book cover of
    The Art of Manliness
    enMay 15, 2024

    The Dude's Guide to Laundry: How to Save Time, Money, and Your Wardrobe

    The Dude's Guide to Laundry: How to Save Time, Money, and Your Wardrobe

    If you didn’t grow up doing your own laundry, once you headed out on your own, you probably just figured things out on the fly, hoped for the best, and have been doing things the same way ever since. But, while you may be getting the job done okay, you also might be making some mistakes that are costing you time, money, and cleaner clothes.

    In this episode from the Art of Manliness department of essential life skills, we’ll cover all the things you should have learned as a young man but never did, and how to do your laundry effectively. Our guide is Patric Richardson, aka the “Laundry Evangelist,” a laundry expert who runs how-to-do-laundry camps, hosts the television show The Laundry Guy, and is the author of Laundry Love. Today on the show, Patric shares the one cycle and water temperature you should use for all of your clothes, exactly how much detergent you should be using (which is a lot less than you think), how often you should wash your clothes (which is less often than you think), why you shouldn’t ever use dryer sheets (and what to throw in your dryer instead), how regardless of what the tag says, you can wash anything at home (including a wool suit), how to easily get rid of stains (including yellow pit stains), and many more tips that will save you time, money, and hassle in doing your laundry.

    Resources Related to the Podcast

    Connect With Patric Richardson

    The Art of Manliness
    enMay 13, 2024

    How to Get Better at Anything

    How to Get Better at Anything

    Life revolves around learning—in school, at our jobs, even in the things we do for fun. But we often don’t progress in any of these areas at the rate we’d like. Consequently, and unfortunately, we often give up our pursuits prematurely or resign ourselves to always being mediocre in our classes, career, and hobbies.

    Scott Young has some tips on how you can avoid this fate, level up in whatever you do, and enjoy the satisfaction of skill improvement. Scott is a writer, programmer, and entrepreneur, and the author of Get Better at Anything: 12 Maxims for Mastery. Today on the show, Scott shares the three key factors in helping us learn. He explains how copying others is an underrated technique in becoming a genius, why, contrary to the sentiments of motivational memes, we learn more from success than mistakes, why experts often aren’t good teachers and tactics for drawing out their best advice, why you may need to get worse before you get better, and more.

    Resources Related to the Podcast

    Connect With Scott Young

    Podcast #989 featuring the book cover of

    Of Strength and Soul — Exploring the Philosophy of Physical Fitness

    Of Strength and Soul — Exploring the Philosophy of Physical Fitness

    When you’re lifting weights, you might be thinking about setting a new PR or doing your curls for the girls.

    But throughout history, philosophers have thought about physical fitness on a deeper level and considered how exercise shapes not only the body, but also the mind and the soul.

    My guest today, Joe Lombardo, is a strength enthusiast who follows in this tradition and has explored the philosophy of bodily exercise in his writing. Today on the show, Joe and I discuss several different ways the philosophy of strength has been expressed over time.

    We begin our conversation with how the ancient Greeks thought of physical training as a way to develop personal as well as social virtues, and why they thought you were an "idiot," in their particular sense of the word, if you didn't take care of your body. We then discuss early Christianity's relationship with physical exercise and the development of the muscular Christianity movement in the 19th century. We end our conversation by looking at the philosophy of physicality espoused by the Japanese writer Yukio Mishima, and what he had to say as to how strength training moves us out of the life of the night and towards the light of the sun.

    Resources Related to the Podcast

    Connect With Joe Lomabrdo

    The No-BS Secrets of Success

    The No-BS Secrets of Success

    Jim VandeHei didn’t have an auspicious start in life. His high school guidance counselor told him he wasn’t cut out for college, and he went on to confirm her assessment, getting a 1.4 GPA at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and spending more time drinking beer than planning his career.

    Eventually, though, Jim turned things around for himself, going on to co-found two of the biggest modern media outlets, Politico and Axios.

    Jim shares how he started moving up the rungs of success and building a better life for himself in his new book Just the Good Stuff: No-BS Secrets to Success (No Matter What Life Throws at You). Today on the show, Jim shares the real-world lessons he’s learned in his career. We discuss the importance of matching passion to opportunity, making your own luck, surrounding yourself with the right people, keeping the buckets of your happiness matrix filled, understanding the difference between wartime and peacetime leadership, harnessing the energy of healthy revenge, and more.

    Connect With Jim VandeHei

    Book cover for


     

    How to Eliminate the Two Biggest Sources of Financial Stress

    How to Eliminate the Two Biggest Sources of Financial Stress

    There are different philosophies one can have when it comes to money. Jared Dillian’s is built around eliminating as much anxiety around it as possible, so you hardly think about money at all.

    Jared is a former trader for Lehman Brothers, the editor of The Daily Dirtnap, a market newsletter for investment professionals, and the author of No Worries: How to Live a Stress-Free Financial Life. Today on the show, Jared talks about the two biggest sources of financial stress — debt and risk — and how you can eliminate the stress they can cause. We discuss how three big financial decisions — buying a car, buying a house, and managing student loans — ultimately determine your financial health, and how to approach each of them in a stress-eliminating way. We also talk about how to minimize risk by creating what he calls an “awesome portfolio,” a mix of assets that has nearly the return of the stock market with half its risk. And Jared shares whether cryptocurrency fits into his “no worries” financial philosophy.

    Resources Related to the Podcast

    Connect With Jared Dillian

    Cover of the book

    The Secret World of Bare-Knuckle Boxing

    The Secret World of Bare-Knuckle Boxing

    Have you ever noticed the guy in a fighting stance on the Art of Manliness logo? That’s not just some random symbol; it’s an actual dude: John L. Sullivan, the greatest bare-knuckle boxer of the 19th century.

    While most people think bare-knuckle boxing came to an end during Sullivan’s era, in fact, it never entirely went away. In his new book, Bare Knuckle: Bobby Gunn, 73–0 Undefeated. A Dad. A Dream. A Fight Like You’ve Never Seen, Stayton Bonner charts bare-knuckle boxing’s rise, fall, and resurgence, as well as the improbable story of its modern chapter’s winningest champion. Today on the show, Stayton describes bare-knuckle boxing’s incredible popularity a century ago, and why gloved boxing took its place while bare-knuckle got pushed into a shadowy, illicit underground. Stayton takes us into that secret circuit which still exists today, revealing the dark, sweaty basements and bars where modern bare-knuckle fights take place and the ancient code of honor that structures them. And Stayton introduces us to a dominant figure in that world, Bobby Gunn, an undefeated bare-knuckle fighter who combines a love of faith, family, and fighting and has helped turn bare-knuckle boxing into what is now the world’s fastest-growing combat sport.

    Resources Related to the Podcast

    Connect With Stayton Bonner

    Book cover of

    Why Your Memory Seems Bad (It’s Not Just Age)

    Why Your Memory Seems Bad (It’s Not Just Age)

    Do you sometimes walk to another room in your house to get something, but then can’t remember what it was you wanted? Do you sometimes forget about an appointment or struggle to remember someone’s name?

    You may have chalked these lapses in memory up to getting older. And age can indeed play a role in the diminishing power of memory. But as my guest will tell us, there are other factors at play as well.

    Charan Ranganath is a neuroscientist, a psychologist, and the author of Why We Remember: Unlocking Memory’s Power to Hold on to What Matters. Today on the show, Charan explains how factors like how we direct our attention, take photos, and move through something called “event boundaries” all affect our memory, and how our current context in life impacts which memories we’re able to recall from the past. We also talk about how to reverse engineer these factors to improve your memory.

    Resources Related to the Podcast

    Connect With Charan Ranganath

    Book cover titled

    Grid-Down Medicine — A Guide for When Help Is NOT on the Way

    Grid-Down Medicine — A Guide for When Help Is NOT on the Way

    If you read most first aid guides, the last step in treating someone who’s gotten injured or sick is always: get the victim to professional medical help.

    But what if you found yourself in a situation where hospitals were overcrowded, inaccessible, or non-functional? What if you found yourself in a grid-down, long-term disaster, and you were the highest medical resource available?

    Dr. Joe Alton is an expert in what would come after the step where most first aid guides leave off. He’s a retired surgeon and the co-author of The Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for When Help is NOT on the Way. Today on the show, Joe argues that every family should have a medical asset and how to prepare to be a civilian medic. We discuss the different levels of first aid kits to consider creating, from an individual kit all the way up to a community field hospital. And we talk about the health-related skills you might need in a long-term grid-down disaster, from burying a dead body, to closing a wound with super glue, to making an improvised dental filling, to even protecting yourself from the radiation of nuclear fallout.

    Resources Related to the Podcast

    Connect With Joe Alton

    Cover of