Protecting Your Property Can Become Problematic: Here's Why

As a homeowner, you have likely experienced the pressing need to protect your home. This is entirely
natural; your home is likely to be the most expensive purchase you will ever make, and you thus
want to ensure that it is as safe as it can possible be at all times.

To achieve this, you - like most homeowners - likely use a two-pronged approach:

  • You do all you can to protect your property from security threats, fire, and other
  • potentially-disastrous issues.
  • You also take out an insurance policy for additional peace of mind.

This allows you to achieve a situation where:

  • You reduce the likelihood of your home’s security or safety being breached…
  • … but you have protections in place, primarily via insurance, should the worst happen.

This dual approach is incredibly sensible, and is recommended by security, financial, and insurance
experts the world over.

However, for some people, going through this process can actually trigger unwanted, intrusive, and
distressing thoughts.

How can protecting your home become problematic?

In the vast majority of cases, protecting your home is a sensible decision. Installing security cameras,
obtaining good insurance, closing your windows, locking your doors, and ensuring you have proper
fire protection measures in place genuinely are good ideas, and the point of this post is not to detract
from this basic truth.

However, for some people, contemplating their home security can be a gateway to distressing thoughts.
Yes, protecting your property isn’t problematic for your home - it might be problematic for you.

How can this happen?

When you contemplate your home’s safety and security measures, you are essentially contemplating
the worst case scenario. You have to think, in detail, about how a number of distressing events may
occur. You can no longer think of the threat as an abstract concept; it’s something you have to truly
engage with.

Many people deal with this situation well; they contemplate the worst of the worst, and then feel
reassured by the protections they are able to put in place to guard against such an eventuality.
The process is simple:

  • Step One: Worry that their home is vulnerable to security or safety threats.
  • Step Two: Implement physical changes to their home to protect against these threats.
  • Step Three: Take out an insurance policy to protect against additional threats, or to cover areas
  • that cannot be managed with physical property changes.
  • Step Four: Feel reassured, continue life as normal.

You will often see this pattern reflected in marketing literature for home security and insurance products:
there’s a constant emphasis on peace of mind.

However, in some cases, contemplating the worst case scenario can be genuinely distressing. The need
to feel secure is a fundamental human requirement, and identifying all the ways your home - and thus
your family - aren’t secure can give way to extremely problematic secondary thoughts.

It’s at this point the thought process becomes disruptive. Rather than the clean cycle as described
above, you don’t ever reach the fourth step of reassurance and life returning to normal: you continue
to worry. For example:

  • What if a burglar steals items of high sentimental value?
  • What if our insurance doesn’t pay out for fire damage?
  • Where would we live while the house was being repaired after a storm?
  • … and so on and so forth.

This can be extremely distressing. As you are unable to reach the fourth point - feeling reassured, -
protecting your home has actually been inherently problematic, and you may experience a significant
rise in your stress and anxiety levels as a result.

How can you control this?

It’s important to understand what has happened if you do experience an increase in intrusive,
distressing thoughts as a result of examining your home’s safety and security.

Life is inherently dangerous, and the things we do everyday are genuinely threatening to our lives.
For example, as the statistics on demonstrate, driving a car is extremely dangerous -
taken in isolation, these statistics should be worrying enough to convince people to give up driving
altogether. Yet we all do it, day after day, even though we know how dangerous it is. Driving is not
the only area of life where we wilfully ignore a reason to be fearful, either; the principle applies
across all areas of life; we do things, every single day, that are inherently risky to our own personal
well-being and the safety of our family.

So why are we not all curled up, constantly terrified? Because our brain is able to rationalize information
that may otherwise cause a great amount of fear - for example, by acknowledging that car accidents
can and do happen, but that this does not mean they will happen. This rationalization allows us to
conduct our lives without living in constant fear.

However, there can be a point where this rationalization stops functioning as it should. This is
especially likely when contemplating something as fundamental as the safety of your home
and your family. Suddenly, you’re no longer able to rationalize your fears as you usually do;
as a result, your anxiety levels and incidences of distressing intrusive thoughts suddenly spike.

While not easy, bringing your anxiety levels back under control is a simple question of following the
thought through. This is a common technique for managing intrusive thoughts. It works as follows:

  • You experience a “what if” style thought that upsets you; “what if my insurance company doesn’t
  • pay out?” or “what if items of sentimental value are stolen?”

  • You then seek to answer this question, rather than just - as is most common - letting the thought
  • linger.

  • So, for “what if my insurance company doesn’t pay out?”, you could double-check your policy
  • guidelines to ensure you are in compliance, or visit claims adjusters such as

  • today for further insight into the process.
  • For “what if items are sentimental value are stolen?”, you could seek ways to protect those
  • items - perhaps by moving your most important pieces to a storage unit, or by scanning old
  • photographs so you always have a digital copy.

There is a chance you will experience further thoughts when attempting this technique. If this happens,
apply the same technique: keep answering the question because, eventually, the thought will run out
of steam.

For example:

  • “What if items of sentimental value are stolen?”
  • I’ll put them in a storage unit to protect them.
  • “What if the storage unit is burgled and they are stolen?”
  • Then I’ll lose them. I’ll be upset for awhile, but I’ll recover. It won’t ruin my life.

By following the thought through to its conclusion, you deprive it of its power, and should thus be
able to reduce anxiety levels.

In conclusion

The technique of following a distressing intrusive thought to its conclusion can be beneficial, and can help to ease problems caused by contemplating your home’s security and safety. However, if it doesn’t work, then it may be worth speaking with a doctor or therapist for further guidance on managing the matter.

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