Graeme Newell

Normalcy bias

When events go terribly bad even the most prepared among us have a tendency to misjudge the risk. At some time in our life, most of us have vainly tried to persuade a friend or loved one that, “This time it’s different. You need to do something!”

Normalcy bias is a survival skill that can place us in real danger when we’re faced with a true emergency. To put it simply, normalcy bias causes our brain to simply deny the danger. We tell ourselves, don’t overreact; everything will be fine.

Normalcy bias isn’t built on logic or rational thinking. It’s a defense mechanism, our brain’s attempt to de-escalate frightening events and make ourselves feel safe.

All of us have experienced a life full of unexpected events and dangerous situations. Experience has taught us that things usually work out okay in the end. This becomes most people’s default reaction when adversity strikes.

This is great for keeping us from continually freaking out, but normalcy bias can blind us to true emergencies.

How can you beat normalcy bias?

1 – Be open to experiencing the fear and uncertainty when facing a dreaded situation.
2 – Notice if you’re overwhelmed. If you are, do your best to defer taking action.
3 – Seek the guidance of trusted friends who are not involved.
4 – Talk it through. You’ll make better choices if you vocalize your options.
5 – Seek out experts. Who is a professional at handling your difficulty? Get some help.