Black and white stripes on a road just one mechanism to make crossing a road safer. “Beware of the dog”. Safety shoes to prevent damaged toes. Safety glasses to prevent damaged eyes. Policies to ensure we don’t get sued, laws to allow us to sue. Use by dates to alert us to the dangers of eating food that might harm us. Bans on games of conkers to avoid bruised hands or worse. Maximum dose eight tablets in 24 hours. Road signs warning of adverse camber, liability of freezing, low bridge or simply to ‘give way’. “Don’t run”. “Slippery when wet”. Barriers at the end of footpaths to ensure we don’t inadvertently run out into the road. Safety belts. Medical screening for illness and disease. No standing upstairs on the bus. ‘Safety’ matches. Fire extinguishers, expensive sprinkler systems and fire drills. Warnings for children on who to talk to and who not to. Fire guards, safety catches, automatic cut-offs. “Eat five a day”. Jabs for our holidays. Pinhole glasses for solar eclipses. Masks to filter our breathing. Catalytic converters to trap pollutants. Helmets for bike riders and sportsmen. “Contains 20% of daily saturated fat”. Life jackets. “Smoking kills”. The list is endless.
Yet when we engage with the world as a human being, put ourselves at emotional and psychological risk. When we show ourselves. When we face judgement. When we risk belonging. When we make mistakes. When we face fear. When we feel lonely. When we show vulnerability …
… then we are on our own.
We have to work it out for ourselves. Try things. Get hurt. Learn quickly. We have to look after our own wellbeing. We work out our own policies and rules. We build our own safety mechanisms. Tell ourselves what is acceptable and what isn’t. Build our own beliefs, values and behaviours to act as barriers to keep us safe. Talk to ourselves, reassure ourselves, beat ourselves up.
Where is the support really needed? I wonder if we have the right balance, the right focus?