Being more than an accident of birth

I spoke to my daughter today and thanked her for being my daughter. Her reply was to say “thanks, but I don’t actually have much of a choice in the matter, since you are my father.” Who taught her to be so smart?

I pointed out that she was biologically correct, however from my perspective that wasn’t quite the same thing.

For example, I am biologically a father because I managed to spawn a child. However what makes me a father is not the fact of managing to impregnate her mother (try not to think about it) but because I am in her life, being a father. How I interact with her is far more important than the mere fact of my presence or existence, which is far more important than a single point in time that lead to fertilisation.

In a similar way, I am grateful that my daughter was brought into this world, for who she is and who she has become. But I am also grateful for the role she plays in my life, for how she interacts with me as my daughter. I pointed out to her that she could choose to not be my daughter any more  She can’t change the biological fact of her DNA that leads to me, however she could say to her mother “I never want to see Dadda again”. She could refuse to talk to me any time that I am near, she could refuse to do anything that I ask and she could go out of her way to be problematic. Instead she chooses to see me, chooses to talk to me and listen to what I have to say and she does what she can to live harmoniously. It is these choices that I was thanking her for, as well as having allowed me to spawn a child process.

In these ways is she being more than an accident of birth.

Later that same day we were in a car park outside of a shopping centre. We heard a man open up the door to his car and yell out “SHUT UP!” at the top of his voice. My daughter and I looked at each other and said “not a father”.

There is an element of “True Scotsman” in this – a True Scotsman would never do X, this Scotsman has done X, therefore he is not a True Scotsman. The element is important to note, you are who you are (a truism) regardless of anything. Just don’t mistake that you were born as an excuse for the rest of your life. The decisions you make every day is who you choose to be rather than who you are by default. In this case I believe that what I am thanking my daughter for is the continual choices she is making rather than a biological fact.

Pro-actively Adapting to our Environment

Here in Australia we are currently experiencing the tail end of Summer. Where I live we have just experienced another heat wave. The ambient temperature (that is the temperature outside of ourselves) can affect our moods. When it is hot, we find ourselves more tired, less motivated and often skip meals. When it is cold, we may find ourselves depressed because cold usually happens in winter, which usually means less light, which prompts some of us towards hibernation. There’s nothing like sleeping in on a cold morning, hey?

People will react consistently to the same changes in temperature and light. However just because I react in a certain way doesn’t mean you will.

When we notice that we have changed, we are not helpless. Instead we must adapt to the changes. If you find that your appetite is suppressed, then you need to ensure that you eat consistent high energy and high nutritional meals, so that the decreased quantity does not affect your health.

If you find that you are not sleeping well, then work that into your routine as well. For example, if you are sleeping in small bursts, go to bed early so that your midnight wake up allows you enough time for a second sleep before you must get up for the day. If you are finding you sleep longer, then again go to bed earlier so that you can fit that in, and be rigid in getting up on time. If you find that you are not sleeping at all, ensure you have some down time where your body and mind can relax, even if you are not actually sleeping.

We live in our environment, and are affected by it. We must adapt to our environment as we cannot always adapt it to us. We must also adapt to how we have adapted to our environment, since to only react is to lose our selves.

I present the present of your present – the only time is now


Look at this moment.

In this moment you can act, whether that act is to think, to do or to wait.

This is the time when you can consider your past, not to feel guilt, shame or other justifications for self-abuse, but to learn from it. That is all that the past is really good for, to tell you what worked and what didn’t, to remind you of what you like and what you don’t. It is there to inform you about what you want your future to contain.

Consider your future. If you don’t like what you see, then perhaps you should consider making changes now that will affect that future.

Are you seeing your future clearly? Is this what you want? If what you want is based on someone else’s choice, then you aren’t seeing your future, you are trying to see theirs. If I see my future as the new husband of some person, then my future relies on them and how I see them. Often we don’t see people for who they really are. Instead consider, what is it that I like about that person (whether it is real or not doesn’t actually matter), and what kind of person do I want to be such that a person like that will want me. We have now removed the specific person and substituted it with the ideal type of person.

Do I like this hypothetical person? Is this who I want to be? If not, then perhaps I need to re-examine my perspective on this. If so, then what changes do I need to make now to head in that direction? What changes do I need to maintain to keep this person I am growing into stable and achievable? Make those choices, and then make those changes.

We can all make changes to our future by making changes in our present. What is hard is keeping those changes going and not sliding back into the habits of who we have been.

Anger, what is it good for?

Well, it turns out, quite a lot. It tells you when something is wrong, when there is an unidentified danger, or when there is a situation when you have decreased power. Often our actions are turned to the outside world in a reflexive action designed to reassert ourselves and give us temporary reprieve, or they are turned inwards, leading to self-harm physically or socially.

The best general response to anger is to not act. In the heat of the moment you cannot accurately act in a meaningful way because often you don’t really know what you are angry with, or when you do, your emotions cloud your response system and you overreact. So, step one, don’t act.

The next thing to do is calm down. Acknowledging how you feel is a good tactic for calming down. “I am angry”, “I’m pissed off”, “I am enraged”. There is nothing wrong with how you feel – the feeling is trying to tell you something. Acknowledge it, feel it, let it run its course. This could take a few minutes, a few days or even a week. If it takes longer than a week, perhaps you need to consider doing more calming actions.

Once it has moved, look back at the situation leading to your anger and look at the triggers. Were they direct or indirect triggers? That is, did your level of anger match the thing that triggered you, or was that trigger the bit of the iceberg that you can see, the last dribble of the avalanche of events that has collided with you and many more metaphors? If your response was far greater than the triggering event, look at what that event means to you and see if it is indicative of something deeper or elsewhere that you actually have to deal with. What I am briefly describing here is complex anger rather than simple anger, where the event was met by justifiable rage.

Now that you are calm and you know what has triggered your anger, it is time to work out what you can do about it. Often we can’t fix the entire problem, but we can put in strategies to manage repeats. Sometimes we can’t fix the problem at all. This can be very frustrating, but what we can do is manage ourselves until the situation can be fixed.

For example, I can quit work, leave a relationship and tell my best friend that what he did was wrong. These are actions I take to change the world around me. If I can’t quit work (such as financial problems), am guilted into staying in the relationship (she only has a few months left to live damn it) or I can’t tell my best friend what he did was wrong (since I’m not supposed to know and that is breaking someone else’s confidence) then the change that I must enact is internal rather than external until the situation changes and I can make an external change.

Anger only leads to the dark side when you do nothing about it. Anger itself is not bad, regardless of what society says about it. What is bad is the aggression that we often use on others or ourselves instead of calming down and solving the problem.

If you want changes in your life, you have to make changes in your life

I have often heard that there are three types of people in this world, those who can count, and those who can’t.
I believe that two categories is more appropriate, with several sub types.

The Blamers

Blamers concentrate on the problem rather than the solution. Generally the problem seems insurmountable and nothing much is done about it.

Self Blamers

Self Blamers feel that they are the sole contributor to the problem. They are usually accompanied by self pity, low self esteem and fail to act because they don’t feel that they are worthy. Often the amount of change that needs to be done to the self seems too much to actually achieve anything and so the individual fails to modify behaviours, perspectives and life style to address the issues that are holding the individual back.
A large proportion of the energy of the individual is pumped back into feeling incapable and unworthy rather than actually working on a solution. The individual is so problem focused that they cannot see solutions, even if they are looking. Self Blamers often run out of hope and just stop trying.
Self Blamers often excuse their lack of action on an inability to work out why they should change, or how they could change that they haven’t already tried and failed. Self Blamers will often given token efforts at change and stop before any significant result can be noticed.

External Blamers

External Blamers feel that they have nothing to do with the problem. That is someone(s) or something(s) else has created this problem and the problem would just go away if someone else would change and fix it.
People who have this mind set generally see the responsibility for change to be someone else’s. When they do see that they should make a change to fix the problem, they plan to change the whole world, which is too hard and destined to fail.
All of the power to solve what ever problems the individual faces, is in someone else’s hands. This forms the basis for a lack of action as solving the problem is too big, to complicated and not really their responsibility.

The Doers

Doers come in three main flavours. Doers are those who act to solve a problem because they see that unless they do something, then nothing will change.

Overachieving Doer

This individual takes on too many changes and cannot adequately support any single change, leading to a systemic failure as the house of cards falls down due to poor foundations and design. The Overachieving Doer is someone who makes up for quality with quantity, but without that quality will find that quantities of crap only creates a very large pile of crap.
The Overachieving Doer will often be heard to exclaim that with this much effort something is going to change. This may be true, but the odds are that when something does change, the Overachieving Doer won’t notice it in the large pile of crap they have created for themselves. The Overachieving Doer has no real game plan, they just keep trying to plug leaks in the damn wall and hope that it will all work out. The likelihood of disaster is high because the individual has not got an effective strategy for success and too few resources to share amongst all of the actions.

All-or-nothing Doer

As I couldn’t think up a snappy two word description, I have cheated by concatenating three words into one.
The All-0r-nothing Doer is an individual who will put all effort into changing one single aspect and assume that it will change everything. These individuals will use lines like “If I just get this one thing done, everything will be all right”. Unfortunately this is often a head in the sand solution. If problems were as easy as solving one thing, then they wouldn’t be problems. In effect, this is an attempt to regain control of the situation by controlling a part of the situation. It is an illusion, controlling part does not control the whole.
Going back to our bursting damn solution, it is like ensuring that you find the right piece of wood to put in the right spot at the right time to prevent the crumbling wall from falling down. Failure means disaster.
Balanced Doer

I was considering this step to be the “Thoughtful Doer”, but I think Balanced Doer is a better descriptor. This is a match between the All-or-nothing Doer and the Overachieving Doer. This individual will try a small range of plans to make the necessary change to solve this problem. By considering the problem first and working out goals to achieve to create the solution, this person uses energy in a balanced way to make headway in several different aspects to achieve a solution. Due to the limit of having only a few plans in place, this person can meter our the resources to make effective change.
Not all the plans will work, but because several are on the go at the same time, the average is success. This makes failure of a plan a learning curve rather than a disaster.

Having a few plans for making changes that are not important is just as foolish as all of the other strategies. To be effective requires understanding the problem, coming up with a plan and believing in ones self worth and ability to achieve.

Resources and artificial scarcity

Resources. It is all about resources. There are just so much before the raw resources run out.

I look at my life and I see myself attempting to manage my resources on many levels in many ways.

I consume resources, such as food, electricity, oxygen and so forth, transforming them entropically into other items, which hopefully become resources for other things.

Not all resources are simple matter transformation though, such as creativity, social connection, emotion, time and thought.

A certain amount of time and effort and time must be spent in the pursuit of the fictitious resource called money. Without it my access to vital resource is cut off or made exceedingly difficult. Thus this resource of time, energy and empathy is prioritised and allocated to the pursuit of cash, leaving me with diminished time, energy and empathy for the rest of the time in my day.

The less energy I have after parcelling out other resources, the less resources I have to be creative. Personally I wish that I could prioritise this resource, but I have responsibilities to my family – they need my time, energy and empathy too.
So I parcel more of my personal resources to them, leaving me with even less resources to put into creativity.

All of this also takes a toll on the resources that I spend on maintaining myself. If I spend too much of my resources on others and not enough on myself, I am harmed and eroded with the result of having less energy at the start of each day. This cycle leaves me vulnerable and requires a change of priorities. Sometimes I must let the family struggle on it’s own, or give off working a day.

It can seem like my existence is merely to serve the masters of money and the family. This spends emotional resources sapping the reserves for a positive perception of life.

The result of this is that I must manage my personal resources intelligently. This may mean expecting less of myself, or making more of the resources that I do have.
An easy one to examine is time. There is only twenty four hours in each day. A certain amount must be spent on travel, eating, sleeping, working, getting ready for the day and so on. By the time this minimum time has been spent, one can consider that there is very little time for the self. Oh the longing for an older time of nomadic wandering, where eighty percent of time was spent doing whatever one felt like.

Clearly time is immutable. Yet there are things one can do to shift the time around. Sleep is hard to change, as is eating. However one can change how one cooks to decrease time spent on that, and one can increase the quality of sleep to make the most of that. As I drive to and from work I will listen to podcasts, which parallels the use of that time. I could also find a workplace closer to home. I am always on the look out for a more efficient way to get ready for the day so that I can cram in more so that when I do spend time on me, it is more time and of higher quality. Even if that means that I just sit and do nothing or go and play in the park with my daughter.

The management of time, and by extension other resources, is really important. Often we forget to look at the efficiency of what we do and end up stuck with what we have always done. We loose ourselves in tradition and forget to prioritise what is truly important.

I still want to find a way to make money from being creative. It’s good to have goals.

Illusion and Misdirection – Anger revisited

Anger is a powerful force. It simplifies and polarises, it inspires super human effort and it allows one to get on with what is necessary. Unfortunately the flip side of that is blindness of the complexit of reality, overlooking human frailty and can lad you to miss what you should really be concentrating on. Anger helps us overcome an obstacle, and when harnessed well it is a great survival tool.
We become angry when we feel that our power has been diminished. This is usually due to someone or something interfering with what we feel we should do. That someone can be a system, a stranger, a friend or ourselves; while the something range from a natural disaster to the role of a die.

There are a number of illusions that should be addressed here. The majority of times we find our power to do diminished is due to self restriction. It is rare that one finds oneself physically or chemically restrained. Generally the restraints we feel are societal, emotional, conscience, spiritual or tradition. The ones who is choosing not to act, that is choosing not to exercise power, is the self. The previous list is our reason, also known as excuse, to restrain ourselves, not the cause. If these wee causal reasons, then I would never be able to do things that I consider wrong. My conscious tells me that I was wrong, it doesn’t stop me from doing. If I consider my actions and work out that it would be wrong first, then I choose not to act, or I judge the consequences worth doing the wrong thing – both reward and punishment.

The diminishment of my power, then, is generally myself, not another. I deflect my frustration and anger at myself to those who I perceive have interfered with my actions, to those who have crossed a boundary and catalyzed my change of action.

When something is the ’cause of my anger’, I will anthropomorphise the event to have a will. I may call it ‘God’ or ‘Geaea’ or ‘fate’, but it isn’t. The event just is without a will, without a want. It is easier for us humans to transfer blame to a human like entity, to feel that the events are happening for a reason and that reason has us at its center. That traffic jam just had to a make me late to my appointment, because clearly Karma wants me to suffer… as if the rest of the people in the traffic jam have no issue with the being late either, or they had all done something to also deserve it. In this situation, we need to realise that we perhaps should have left earlier, taken a different route when we saw traffic thickening up too much, or just accept that this is beyond our control and wait, call ahead and let people know we are going to be late, or some other action.

Generally we will externalise our blame rather than accept that we should do something different, or do nothing at all. We frequently rile against that which we can not change, and do nothing about that which we can.

Generally, the anger that stops us is our own anger, which we can stop.

De-Institutionalised Skills

Not long ago I broke a bone in my hand. By not long gap, I mean to say that it was about four months ago. Still fairly recently, all things considered. It took about six weeks before I could tentitively use it again, and twelve weeks before the occupational therapist allowed me to go back to ‘full use, so long as I was gentle about it.

The injury itself was a fracture of the lowest bone in my pinky finger of my right hand. For all intents and purposes, I am right hand dominant. Not using my hand fully for twelve weeks dropped the strength of my right hand squeeze to two thirds of my left (that is, my left hand was now one and a half times stronger).

Four months later I still find that my right hand reacts poorly to impact and when people give me a hard squeeze in their hand shake I am fully conscious of the possible damage to my bone. Sometimes I even imagine that I hear or feel the bones crunching. I frequently notice that I am using my right hand to hold things while my left does the ‘real work that my right hand use to do, or that I am carrying things preferentially with my left hand.

My occupational therapist told me that the best way to regain full use of my right hand was to use it. Just keep using it. Easy words, hard to do when I have unconsciously promoted the use of my left hand. Whenever I notice that I am using my left instead, I stop and use my right.

Why? If my let hand can do the jobs just as well as my right, why not let myself become left hand dominant? At least that would then match my left eye dominance. I may even become a good pool or snooker player.

The reason is that my right hand isn’t disabled, it is institutionalised. If my right hand no longer functioned, or could never function as it once did, then learning to compensate for the loss makes Spence. This changes me from disabled to differently-abled. According to my medical experts, my right hand isn’t disabled, it has just lost skills. My choice is between becoming differently-abled and reclaiming my skills by de-institutionalising. I choose to reclaim.

For many who loose skills via an institution, this too becomes a real issue. Perhaps many miss the point where they choose to become differently-abled instead of reclaiming their skills and ability. It is the moment where you they say something like “I can’t” when really, with a bit of time, trust and effort they could.

I am currently working in post hospital rehabilitation with a select transitional residential target group. One of the constant team decisions is “are we having a therapeutic effect on this person?” If the answer is ‘yes’, and we have time, then we keep the person to continue delivering the benefit of being in a our institution. If the answer is ‘nom then we move them as quickly as possible. This has nothing to do with the client being a success or failure, but in a n effort not to institionalise the client unnecessarily.

Just being in a supportive environment when you no longer need that support can unlearn your living skills. Examples of this is cooking for yourself, planning your day, making decisions, mediating yourself, cleaning your area, paying bills, seeking socialisation and choosing your life instead of drifting in someone else’s.

By supporting my injured hand, I initially gave it the supportive, nurturing environment where it could heal and have the greatest potential to come good. My hand no longer has any injury based reason not to grow back to it’s former functionality and strength. What threatens my hands recovery was not the injury, not the supportive cast, not the occupational therapist, not my desire to keep getting help from other, but my laziness in not using my right hand when given the opportunity, my laziness in not exercising my right hand, my laziness in not consciously using it as my first choice. By being lazy to my old injury, I risk institutionalising my own right hand.

The power to reclaim my old skill, strength and ability lies in my conscious decision to heal and grow.

Childlike Eyes

I was talking a lady recently who said that she doesn’t understand why anyone would want to bring a child into a world like this. That got me thinking. What world is she seeing?

The world we see is filtered by both our expectations and that which we choose to see. Clearly what she saw was a world that was not safe for children. We humans are facing a great upheaval in the way we do things. We can no longer rely on fossil fuels to power our devices as both the fossil fuels will run out and our atmosphere will fill up with carbon dioxide, creating a run away climate change disaster. The world is full of wars, terror and horror. People are being lost in alternate computer driven realities, giving up their lives in the pursuit of virtual goods with no inherent meaning. Clearly bringing a child into this chaos would be bad.

Yet is this a fair assessment of the world? Two hundred years ago we humans barely relied on fossil fuels. Our mode of transport was foot or hoof. Running out of fossil fuels is barely a blip on our timeline. Our atmosphere faces a great challenge, and so do we humans as a result of it. However consider that we are capable or surviving upheavals. We humans are adaptive. Beyond changing our current living practices, migrating to more habitable places and limiting the number of children we have, we humans should survive it. While the survival of humans will require us to change, at what time in our past have we humans not adapted to the world we find ourselves in? The world is full of wars, violence and terror, but there are less wars every year, less violence and less to be terrified about. The little that is left certainly is represented more in the news, but that is the nature of ‘The News’.

I do not see that the world today is any worse than the world of 80 yeas ago. If we look at 80 years ago, the Western World was recovering from World War One. It was in the great depression of the Western countries. The Eastern countries and other parts of the world mostly were not affected. There was the Spanish Flu, which killed millions of people, although less than what the war killed.

One of the greatest cliches is to compare now to the past and find both that it was better then and that times were harder. “Back in my day” usually leads to stating that now is bad and soft. If this cliché were perpetually true, then humanity would never have progressed beyond stone tools. Clearly this isn’t true, so perhaps the cliché is false.

To what point do we keep insisting that the world is such a gloomy and dangerous place? That this is no place to raise a child? Why do people miss the beauty all around us?

I put it down to confirmation bias.

Confirmation bias is a human trait of promoting in our memories the events that confirm our theories and demoting in our memories those events which contradict our expectations. It is how every sound we hear at night confirms the danger we fear, the look in the ladies eyes that convey disgust and the cherry picked evidence that proves we have cured cancer, again.

In the case of violence in our world, either from man or nature, confirmation bias can be accelerated by a dirty sample. A dirty sample is where we believe the evidence before our eyes is fairly representative of nature, but we are wrong. A good example is a deck of cards. Shuffled properly, the deck should give us a random card when we split the deck, that is, the odds of drawing an Ace should be 1 in 52. If we stack the deck though, the odds change, and if we tamper with the deck, removing some cards and adding others, the odds can change to a certainty. A deck of just Aces means we will get an Ace.

We humans like to know what is going on in the world and we tend to pass on information that we think is important. Often we don’t tell each other the nice stuff, we warn each other of the bad stuff. This is a survival trait – I would rather know there is a saber tooth tiger in that field over there than some lovely flowers. If there is no saber tooth tiger in the field, feel free to tell me about the flowers, but really, can we get on with the bit where you tell me where all the danger is so I can just survive?

In the modern age, the most commonly used method of communicating danger is referred to as “The News”. Media companies cover this in many different formats, but it mostly represents the same thing, whether it is a free to air television, cable television, the radio, news blogs, social networks and so forth, people are more interested in hearing about the bad stuff over the good stuff. We like to be heard, so we will tend to tell the bad stuff.

If we base our reality on this dirty sample, then the world is going to seem to be filled full of bad stuff. The world isn’t actually that bad. I am fairly confident that for every negative thing reported in The News the reports could easily find ten things that are positive. They don’t report on these as people are less interested in hearing about them, so they will sell less copy and thus make less money. While there are a few web sites dedicated to only reporting good news, they are swamped in numbers by the web sites reporting bad news.

If we think that the world is frightening, then look around us, we will see a plethora of evidence to support our view. Yet the evidence is a dirty sample, biasing our information and confirming our fears. It takes strength and courage to turn your back on these dirty samples and go looking at the world again, without the bias we have built up and see the world as a child sees it.

If we see the world through childlike eyes, we will see that it is actually worth bringing a new child into this world. Just not too many please.

Securing Insecurity

It is often hard to tell the difference between a situation that is socially dangerous and one that you are feeling is socially dangerous, but isn’t. If the situation is dangerous, you need to defend yourself, while if the situation isn’t dangerous, fending for yourself may make it dangerous. The trick is to have in place enough safety in place if you gain evidence of danger that you can quickly become safe, while not putting too many safety systems in place such that you create a hostile situation.

The first thing to remember, if you do not have clear and present evidence that you are in danger, then you probably do not need to panic right now. It is important to calm down and think rationally. The way that blood tends to flow in the brain, when emotions are heightened, blood flows into the areas of your brain that process emotion and physical action and away from the areas that deal with logic and strategy. With such uneven blood flow, plans are made poorly, logic is distorted and you can end up creating danger where none was before.

What do I mean by social danger? This describes any danger that is not an immediate physical danger, such as a dangerous animal making threatening attacking motions, an impending truck about to strike you, or some other direct physical threat. If it is not a direct physical threat, then it is most likely to be a social or psychological threat. Most social threats involve other people and social situations that lead to danger to your future plans, such as friends, community or work. Psychological danger is usually an internal issue which can involve how you see the world, or how you view your placing in the world and your purpose.
Ok, now that we have that sorted, here are some things that you can do about a potentially dangerous social situation.

First of all, assess the situation. What actual evidence do you have to indicate a threat? The evidence is what you need to work on first, because it is the only real information you have. Assess the evidence based on what it indicates the actual danger is, rather than implied danger, and then which actual dangers you can do some action about to negate that danger.

Next assess whether your actions have a negative impact if it turns out that you are wrong. For example, quitting a job may be really foolish if it turns out that you misread the situation, and very hard to undo. Looking for another job if it turns out that you are wrong is easier to let go of, but also has a backup plan for if you are right. These half actions are what we really want to create. A situation where the action increases your options, and safety, but doesn’t push you down a set path that is difficult to alter, in case you are wrong.

Actual evidence may suggest other dangers, but these possibilities are secondary to the known, even if these possibilities are hugely detrimental to you. They still need to be considered, but without direct evidence of reality, they can not be acted upon without decreasing your real security. I take real security over virtual security any day. Plan for how you are going to deal with implied and or interpolated threat, but avoid taking half actions (as described above) and don’t take full actions just because you are scared. Actions before evidence is premature.

Also be careful who you talk to. Debriefing with a select friend or confidante can be a fantastic reality check, or good to bounce plans off when considering strategy. Talking to your potential enemy about the theories you have of their eventual betrayal will most likely place you in a vulnerable position and may trigger the event that you fear. Also consider how many people you want to talk to about your concerns. Talking to one is very safe, but may not give you a reality check, especially if they have similar concerns already. Talking to a few can give you a more grounded perspective, but decreases the secrecy of your fears. Telling too many people means that your internal considerations have become public knowledge and can quite likely trigger events that will place you in a vulnerable situation.

In summary, make careful half actions on evidence, make plans on assumptions, discuss with only a few people what you are concerned about. This is how you remain safe when you aren’t sure of what is going on.