How many times have you purposely ignored a “red flag”? In hindsight, you realize that you knew at the time that it was a bad idea, a foolish choice, a waste of money, a potentially dangerous situation, a heartache in the making but, you went ahead with it anyway. Later, you smack yourself in the forehead and say “What was I thinking?” You were thinking but you weren’t doing what I refer to as “right thinking”. Right thinking comes from knowing, respecting and trusting yourself. It comes from having standards of personal behavior and ethics that you live by and an inner compass that you follow, even when no one is watching. Right thinking is about protecting yourself from situations that can harm you. Most of us were fortunate enough to have parents who tried to teach right thinking to us but, many chose not to follow their example and advice and insisted on learning everything the hard way. I’m in that camp. Can I see a show of hands?
A red flag is just another way of saying you feel fear about something. I read a very good book about the value of fear called “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin de Becker. The main focus of the book is to provide information about how to avoid becoming a victim of violence but I especially liked the author’s respect for and validation of intuition, also known as gut instinct, because I have been guilty of ignoring or underestimating my own intuition too many times. That book caused me to think about my own gut instinct and the situations in which I ignored it. For example, I can remember waiting alone for an elevator in a high-rise hotel late one night and, when the door opened, the only person in there was a scary looking man. For a split second I hesitated but then pushed away whatever my instinct was trying to tell me and got on the elevator. Fortunately, nothing happened but the reason I got on the elevator instead of respecting my instinct was a stupid one – I didn’t want to offend the man, who happened to be dark-skinned. Women are especially prone to ignoring their intuition for fear of looking foolish or offending anyone.
I’m not thinking exclusively about potentially violent situations but, the fact that any and all situations that have the potential to be harmful to us usually prompt red flags to pop up and it is our reaction to them that is important. I’m proposing the idea that we almost always know when something doesn’t feel right but, for any number of reasons, we choose to ignore those feelings. Have you ever had the experience of being able to actually remember red flags you were ignoring to the point of almost being unaware of them at the time? That is a great example of not honoring and trusting your higher self. The bride-to-be who keeps getting the feeling more and more often as the wedding date gets closer that she is making a mistake but, the banquet hall has been reserved and the invitations were sent and she doesn’t want to look “foolish” so she chalks it up to jitters and gets married. How about the man on a first date with a woman he thought was his “dream girl” who ignores red flags about how much she is drinking and the disturbing information she is revealing about herself because he desperately needs for his dream to be true, damn the reality in front of him? I’m sure you can think of dozens of examples, as can I. In fact, I recently went through a situation in which red flags went up regarding a new acquaintance and, although it may be of minor importance in the big picture, it was significant to me and I chose to have no further interactions with her.
After too many years of ignoring red flags I have finally learned to pay attention, even when they are just protecting me from involvement with negative people. Looking back, I see now that I was too often so concerned with being fair and non-judgmental – or at least appearing that way – that I neglected my own welfare. I have become almost militant about safe guarding what is important to me such as my integrity, happiness, close relationships, and the overall quality of my life. Compromise and flexibility are necessary in order to function in the world but you should never compromise on anything that damages your integrity and you should never ignore your intuition because that is a gift from God and is what connects you to your true nature. Gavin de Becker says “Denial is the enemy of safety” and I think that can be applied to any situation that has the potential to hurt you whether it be physically, emotionally, or financially. Be bullish – let those red flags grab your attention!
Don’t forget to say a prayer today for the men and women currently serving in our military and for our veterans.
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