“May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift” – “Forever Young”, Bob Dylan

When the path of our life suddenly looks radically different, it can of course be hard to absorb. We tend to expect and believe that things will continue as they always have, even in the face of evidence to the contrary

So often we move through life believing we are on rock solid ground

when life throws a curve-ball

This is the basis of NORMALCY BIAS – a cognitive bias that leads us to disregard or even underestimate threats or disasters.

Part of normalcy bias can simply be that we can’t even consider the concept that things can change so dramatically.  It just doesn’t compute.  An inability or refusal to react may also be a reflection of the freeze response, which occurs during a threat and preceded fight or flight.

During normalcy-biased behaviour we become fixed, into small circles of familiar thinking and behaviour. We cling to the security and comfort of habit.

Normalcy bias, or sometimes referred to ‘head in the sand response’, may lead to as many as 70% of us to react with a lack of reaction! In the face of disaster or threat.  We believe, or unconsciously assume, that everything will continue as it normally does just because that’s the way it’s always been.  So we don’t react or adjust. An inability or refusal to alter our expectations when circumstances do a flip turn can cause us all kinds of problems. As well as failing to respond appropriately in emergencies, we may also beat ourselves up when we’re depressed.

Behave like nothing’s changed

When things change radically, some of us may be unable to let go of how things were. So we stop living in the present and we ignore the fluidity of life

Responding to changed circumstances doesn’t necessarily mean being immediately proactive. Understanding that you have to, for a while, function in a different way to normal – which may mean doing very little for a bit – is doing something. It’s adjusting.   How we face life and deal with events determines and shapes our character.

When an event doesn’t fall within our range of expectations, it’s almost as though we don’t see it and can’t respond to it.  People who refuse to evacuate as a fire or hurricane approaches are displaying – normalcy bias.  People who assume they should be able to do what they normally do when they are sick or depressed, are displaying normalcy bias.