Adaptability / Adversity / Challenge / Facing Reality / Relationships

The Risk Inherent in Assurances


I SPENT MANY HOURS RECENTLY sitting with a financial broker by the name of Joe, pouring over strategies of how to preserve what precious monies I’ve managed to still cling to for my future retirement. What I basically asked of this man was “Please help me feel more secure about my future. Please tell me what to do so I will survive and, dare I dream, maybe even prosper moving forward from today.”

It was a lot to ask of Joe. It’s a lot to ask of any person on the planet. With Joe, I was potentially handing over my money. But, every day, we hand over a heck of a lot more than just money to people, hoping they’ll do right by us, that they’ll help us feel more secure, that they’ll tell us how to survive and prosper.

We hand over our hopes for freedom and opportunity to a presidential candidate.

We hand over our very life to our medical surgeons and doctors.

We hand over our hearts to our life partners.

We place an immense amount of faith in another person that they will, here and possibly even forever forward, put our interests before their own. I’ll say it again . . . that’s a lot to ask of any person.

When it comes down to it, every person has their own preservation in mind, their own hopes and goals.


JOE’S A NICE GUY, but Joe also has to earn a living. Joe may wish for me to feel secure in the future and may even wish that I prosper, but Joe also has to make money off of me. Right off the bat, we already have a conflict of interest.

Joe is a nice guy, but Joe is also trying to give me assurances–guarantees of lifetime payments or rates of return. I like Joe. I really do, but NOTHING in life is guaranteed, least of all anything that relates to money. Absolutely everything about money screams of risk.

I want very much to believe Joe’s assurances, because doing so would give me absolute peace of mind, but those assurances aren’t realistic and neither is my absolute peace of mind in Joe’s hands. If I invest my money with an investment or insurance company, the company could go under. If I instead put all my money in a bank, the bank could go under. If I stick all my money in bags hidden in the walls of my house, my house could go up in flames, and my physical and financial security along with it.


OUR PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES have their own needs and wants to tend to. Sure, a good candidate may have our interests at heart, but push comes to shove, his or her personal needs and goals will most likely hold the most weight, and really, we should expect they would. Nobody wants to go to sleep at night feeling uneasy, including the President of the United States. If everyone else’s needs are put first, that’s exactly what eventually causes a desire for a nighttime sedative. Everyone has to have their basic needs met before they can meet the needs of others. It’s the old airplane emergency demonstration playing out in real life . . . we’ve all heard the instruction to put our oxygen masks on before we put on anyone else’s, even our own child. Who are we to our presidential candidates if not their adopted children, their family they have agreed to take care of should they become the country’s president?

Our candidates may offer us assurances–guarantees of not going to war or not cutting Social Security. We may like our candidates, even strongly admire them, but NOTHING in politics or the economy is guaranteed. Absolutely everything about politics and economics screams of instability.

We want very much to believe our candidate’s assurances, because doing so would give us absolute peace of mind, but those assurances aren’t realistic and neither is our absolute peace of mind in our candidate’s hands. If we put all our trust in our candidate, he or she could die while in office, could commit a crime and be jailed, could be reduced down to nothing but a puppet by the swarms of political, military, financial, and commercial interests surrounding him or her, could pursue a personal agenda entirely of special interests, financial security, maintained status, revenge, or any number of other desires.


OUR MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS have their own needs and wants. Sure, a medical surgeon may wish for you to live a long and happy life, but he or she may elect different solutions for you based on what he or she feels most comfortable doing, what new technique seems appealing, what solution provides the best financial kickback, and even may make as monumental a decision as whether or not to perform surgery on a day when he or she feels under the weather or otherwise out of sorts.

Our doctors may offer us assurances–guarantees that nothing ever goes wrong with this anesthesia or that surgery technique. We may like our doctors, even have had recommendations from friends or loved ones about these doctors that hold a lot of weight, but NOTHING in surgery is guaranteed. Absolutely everything about our bodies going under the knife is unpredictable.

We want very much to believe our medical professionals that we will be cured, we will be healed, we will have absolute peace of mind that there will be no complications, but our doctors’ assurances aren’t realistic and neither is our absolute peace of mind if we rest it entirely in our doctors’ hands. If we put all our trust in our doctors, they could have a bad day and inadvertently cause us harm, the power could shut down in the operating room, bringing everything to a halt at a critical moment, or one of the six medical professionals in the operating room at the time of your surgery could make a mistake that directly impacts you. We have no assurance everything will go smoothly.


EVEN WITH LIFE PARTNERS, sure they want the best for you, as much as you want the best for them. Sure they’d do anything for you. You have no doubt. But they may draw a line in the sand when their desire to meet your needs or wants conflicts with their own preservation, their own sense of security, their own expectations, hopes, and dreams. Your life partners wish the best for you, no doubt–they want you to be happy, to do whatever it is that most pleases you in your life . . . UNTIL . . . your vision of what’s best for you, what road you wish to take to happiness, what it is that makes you happy CLASHES with their vision.

Our life partners offer us assurances–guarantees that they’ll never leave, that they’ll always support us, that they’ll always love us. We love them and give them assurances too, but NOTHING about love is guaranteed. Absolutely everything about love is risky and unpredictable.

We want very much to believe our life partners will love us and will be there for us forever, that we will have peace of mind knowing that nothing will ever change. But our partners’ assurances aren’t realistic and neither, quite frankly, are our assurances to them. Life is about constant change. Situations change and people’s reactions, needs, and wants change right along with them. A life partner could take ill, could pass away, could figuratively “leave” us and themselves because of mental health issues, could literally leave us for someone else, could have us feeling we want to leave them for ongoing wrong doing or indiscretions or vice versa.


So, What Do We Do?

We put a measured amount of faith in these trust relationships we’ve formed. We hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

We accept that risk and unpredictability are inherent in life. Therefore, we put our faith in the existence of change, so that we are not so dramatically shaken by it WHEN, NOT IF, change happens.

We accept that many of the people we interact with day in and day out are prone to putting their own needs first. This is especially true when life gets chaotic. At times of chaos, people are wired to step into survival mode, to tend to their own basic needs first, to choose safety and security for themselves over that of others.

But even in the normal course of life, we enter into these trust relationships with people on the agreement that we each will balance our own needs with theirs. That is all. Some of us may naively enter into such trust relationships believing the other person is agreeing to put their own needs on the back burner and put our needs first, but this is almost never true.

In trust relationships, we can only be assured that . . .

-+-Β  We are all for ourselves as much as (or even more than) we are for anyone else.

-+-Β  We are humans with a primal beat–civilized, but reacting to not only a fabricated, but a natural world.

-+-Β  Risk is part of our everyday lives. Change is part of our everyday lives. Nothing is ever assured.


5 thoughts on “The Risk Inherent in Assurances

  1. This is interesting. It reminds me of something my husband says all the time, “We are all selfish. Everything we do is really for ourselves.” He throws out examples, like having a baby, choosing a career, etc. Each time I’ve tried to argue, but he’s right. Why should we believe anything different simply because the person is running for office or handling our medical records. Thanks for this, especially the resolution at the end.

    • πŸ™‚ You’re welcome!

      I’m with you in that I would’ve argued the point with your husband, as I probably have with others through the years in one way or another. It’s so against my grain to not think of someone else first, to a fault usually. I have always been convinced I’d be a TERRIBLE salesperson, unless I were peddling pure happiness for a penny, because (I tell myself) I don’t easily do something for my own gain.

      HOWEVER, even in my own occasional martyrdom (something I work hard not to ascribe to anymore), I have proof that even I have had to choose “me” over someone else at times.

      For pure givers, it IS a question of survival. Most of the time, they put others first to such a degree, they run a tremendous risk of harming themselves to the point of extinction when they don’t eventually look out for themselves.

      For pure takers, selfishness comes easy, is obvious, is natural. They are out there doing what they do–wheeling, dealing. Those who deal with them stand a great chance of being bitten, and the taker is okay with that.

      And then there’s everyone in between. We try to strike a balance (usually for sanity’s sake) to give as much as we can when we can, and to take only what we need when we need it. As with all things, whether we are right or wrong in our taking is all determined by the INTENTION behind the taking.

      (Sorry for babbling on . . . probably how I managed to write this blog post in the first place. My mind goes places . . . lol)


      • It’s not problem. I do want to say that he would argue that even if you’re helping someone, it’s for selfish reasons. You’re doing it because you want to and because of fill-in-the-blank-reason. I think it requires not looking at the word selfish with a negative connotation (not saying I agree), but just saying lol Think I’m somewhere in between, no matter how we define “selfish.” Thanks for making me think a little harder today.

      • I read Ayn Rand’s book, “The Virtue of Selfishness” in the last decade or so, which explores the concept your husband points to. It was worth reading. I found many interesting thoughts to ponder in it. Selfish is not meant in the “greedy” way, but in the sense that we must look out for “self” first. We are motivated to meet the needs of “self” first; we only help others if it’s in alignment with something that we want or need. She argues that being SELFish is natural, normal, which is an interesting concept. I certainly highlighted the heck out of the little book. But it also goes off in other directions as well. Food for thought is all.

        Now I’m hungry . . . my “self” is hungry . . . so I’ll choose to end this conversation now, so I may tend to my needs. πŸ™‚

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