Your personal safeguarding
When people have a conversation about safeguarding, it’s usually to do with a professional approach. For example, if you work in educational health services, then you will be accustomed to this rhetoric. I find that what people don’t think about when they are talking about safeguarding is about their own personal safeguarding.
One of the most intriguing defence mechanisms that exists in the contemporary era is the human brain. It is within its own right an organ which has produced many technological innovations, free and radical thoughts, and has allowed us to debate many issues. This is all the conscious part of mind; however, what happens when we don’t follow logic from a safety point of view? Scientists have identified something which is called a ‘predictive processing network’ within the human brain; more commonly this is referred to as ‘a good instinct’ or a ‘gut feeling’.
The gut feeling works by encouraging the brain to constantly examine the environment the person is in, and it attempts to identify strange or unfamiliar patterns. The brain famously likes familiarity, and people often develop a sense that something is wrong when they recognise something that is unfamiliar to them, and this in turn prepares the fight-or-flight system. What happens when you have a gut reaction is that the brain has identified something that’s not right about the current situation: it’s like seeing a room that has been painted entirely navy blue, except for one 10cm square which is a dark crimson. Instantly your brain identifies that square, that something is not familiar to it, and begins a process of investigation to determine what on earth is going on.
Sometimes the body does this entire mismatching identification subconsciously, making you aware that there’s a problem, but you cannot identify what it is. This happens entirely automatically, and as part of the brain’s process. An example of this is when we are on the road; if we are familiar with the route, then our subconscious takes over and does all the work, and when there is something new that we haven’t identified then it makes our consciousness aware of the issue and we can act accordingly. To give you an example, you might notice that you’re driving along and suddenly you may realise that your car is veering towards the wrong side of the lane, and maybe at this point your body acknowledges this, seemingly out of nowhere, and adjusts the car’s position back to the correct side of the road.
In any situation this is vital, because it is identifying patterns you may not completely know of, and this can be something which can prevent you from getting into tricky situations or potential harm. Never ignore your gut - always trust in that feeling - because even though it might seem irrational, people base these feelings upon extensive information collected by their brains over many years, and it is all there to act in your best interests.
A counsellor may be able to help you work on your personal safeguarding.
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About Brian Turner
I am a psychotherapist that uses a diverse and wide spectrum of techniques to ensure that my clients feel empowered and confident, so they are able to achieve what they wish to achieve when presenting with a broad range of issues.