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.