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What is Real Danger?

The other night at dinner our youngest daughter told us about an experience she'd had that day.


When walking to her car after school she wondered if she had remembered to lock it. When she reached for the door handle, sure enough it opened and she immediately noticed something on the seat that horrified her:


A Note.


It read, "I'm glad you came to school today."



My husband and I looked at each other to see if we had missed something. What was so scary about this note? "In our day", (yep, we're officially old; that's how we responded), "leaving notes for people was normal. On windshields, in lockers..." We explained that, depending on the content of the note, It was even considered fun, exciting and kind.


She insisted it was creepy. "Who would do that!?" She exclaimed, and she wondered if someone had been watching her. I guess she was right, someone had noticed she was at school and was glad about it (insert smirky grin).


I pointed out that she had been going to school with many of the same peers since Kindergarten. It may be completely innocent. A compliment even.


She stuck to her belief that it was creepy, weird and disturbing. My husband and I stopped trying to convince her it was otherwise and in the end, we were able to have a good laugh about our different perspectives.


And I was reminded, Danger, and everything else we experience, is relative .


Danger is especially important for our brains to know about so that as it scans the world, you can be alerted to things that could potentially harm you. Then you can take action to remain safe. It literally is your lower brains biggest job and it NEVER stops scanning.


When you decide that something is indeed dangerous, your brain takes note of and remembers that information. That's why you can feel "triggered" by certain objects, people or situations that represent or remind you of that danger.


But sometimes we assign things as dangerous that aren't really so.



Words people said or looks they gave us.

What our house looks like.

Making dinner.

Sitting on a committee, going to a party, gaining weight, losing weight, how much money we have, who you work for, and on and on and on.


In truth, I have no idea if that note my daughter received had malicious intent behind it. And neither does she. We both chose our reaction based on past experience and evidence. I think her reaction is based on all the True Crime podcasts she listens to, she thinks I'm naive and out of date.


Neither of us has to be right. A much healthier approach is for each of us to acknowledge that we are creating our experience and own it. It's also healthier for the relationship to refrain from judging or ridiculing another's experience.


When you become aware that you are reacting to something that feels fearful, take a deep breath and add rational thinking. Ask yourself, What am I making this mean?


If the situation is indeed dangerous, of course act on it! Your body will likely do so before you have a chance to think about it.


But if that isn't the case, consider that what your brain is interpreting as dangerous, is more likely fear that you aren't good enough, might not be accepted or that something went differently than you wanted it to - or thought it would.


This kind of emotional maturity will prevent you from adding unnecessary pain to your life.

And instead bring power, joy and connection.


Xo,

Meredith





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