"The failures that you beat yourself up over are the ones where you experienced warning signs and can connect the dots backwards after the fact." Caroline Ghosn

Searching, yearning, looking for a sign. In the world around us, and the people that occupy it, we look for signs. Some kind of guidance, advice on who to be, or just affirmation that we are doing what we should be. There's this pressure, learned, and applied liberally that tells us there's both a right and a wrong way to exist. There's a values judgement applied to us and who we are. There is an assessment that we are constantly placing on ourselves, and onto others, and them unto us as to the righteousness of what we do. We look for signs to make sense of what goes on around us, about why the world is working the way it is, and about who we're meant to be. Signs have this power to both obscure, and to provide clarity when we seemingly need it most. Signs are all open to our interpretation. We just want to know we're on the right path. The right path. Right. There's that word again that has so much impact to it. What happens when we stop to interrogate that phrasing? How do we know what is right? Who gets to define rightness? Why does rightness even matter? That entire conceptualization is part of our socialization for continuity for the human condition, for us to behave in certain ways, and for us to go through the world the way "we're meant to." Rightness is beyond duality. It is multiplicity, and context heavy. We get to decide what is "right" for us and our lives - nothing and no one gets to take that away. Maybe we don't need signs, but we need the self-actualization, and empowerment to forge our own paths. 

The paradox of signs is that we often invalidate the ones we do "receive." If a sign is not the one we want, we can just as easily disregard it. That defeats the purpose of signs. Don't ask for a sign when you really just want a co-sign to your problem behavior. Don't ask for a sign when you have already seen one and ignored it. Don't ask for a sign when you intend to continue past it anyway. Don't ask for a sign if you've resolved to be unchanged. There are ways in which we expects signs to be these pivotal moments in our lives, and they can - if we choose for them to be. Signs are usually subtle, and easily overlooked. When we do recognize a sign, it's up to us to internalize it, and make the commitments, and changes necessary for it to be the revolution we've been asking for. Signs only work if we take them in, adhere to them, and stay steadfast with them. Soon we'll look up, or look back, and realize that sign really was the crux of our change. Signs are only useful if we act with them in mind. 

Red flag, the universal sign for stop. Cease and desist. Do not go any further. Danger. Imminent destruction, and death. Red flags communicate an urgent message that something is not right, that we're not quite feeling safe (not just uncomfortable - the difference matters), and that we need to assess the situation to respond appropriately. Stop romanticizing people. People are never who we imagine them to be, for better, and for worse. Let people tell and show you who they are, believe it to be true (the first time), and act accordingly. Ignoring red flags is letting make-believe overrun common sense. Red flags demarcate alarms. It's like hearing a fire alarm, pretending it's not sounding, and being surprised when we are engulfed in flames. 

Red flags communicate to us vital information. Proceeding even with caution, without taking the proper time to decipher why we are getting a red flag, is disregarding sage advice from our inner selves. When we dismiss red flags we betray ourselves and our sensibilities. It's discounting our instincts for idealizations that often lead us to peril. Red flags are meant to protect us, and to keep us from repeating mistakes. Failing to being admonished by them is us causing our own anguish, when it could be easily avoided. Stop. Listen to yourself. Trust yourself. Let people go who trigger your personal alarm system. That means something. 

Signs matters as much as we allow them to. Regardless, what our ideologies is around predestination, free will, happenstance, and the rest, the signs we would be wise to adhere to are those produced from within. Our bodies give us constant feedback about how we're feeling, what we're experiencing, and the ways that we're responding. We are at our best when we are in sync with ourselves. When we pay attention to the people and the environment we find ourselves in, and our attempts at modern day human homeostasis we have a pretty reliable measure of our status. When we have been decalibrated, off in our assessments of others, or made the mistake of ignoring red flags only to be undermined by them, it can be challenging to trust ourselves. It's critical for us to give ourselves time. Start relearning how to identify issues, forecast conflicts, and taking note of how your body responds in various situations. Getting to know and regain confidence in our selves is imperative. From there pointing out red flags, addressing them and/or listening to them gets to be routine. When we consistently use signs and red flags to guide us, we find that we get to avoid so much conflict, ambiguity, and disappointment. Our biggest sign is us. X


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