My whole life, (with few exceptions), has been quite traumatic in terms of interpersonal relationships and in particular relationship conflicts. Being perpetually on guard allows me to function at some level in society, where I can make ‘risk assessments’ of various situations and then choose how to react to people or situations, by the level of risk involved. So it becomes impossible to talk about being ‘on guard’ without identifying the different types of risk and danger, and also to talk about consequences of making any particular decision.
The biggest risk factor for me, (for whatever reason, I don’t know), has been the fear of ridicule. Ridicule, and the risk of ridicule is perhaps the most persuasive and terrifying worry that I have to confront and deal with on a daily basis. Most of the time I will do, (or say), whatever I need to do (or say) to avoid ridicule. This practice includes habitual lying, deceit, and concealment activities.Other areas of risk that I access include financial risks physical danger, risk of failure, and fears of losing the good things in my life that I already have, IE: comfort, security, mental faculties ect. Fear of death is not one of these concerns, although I hope my death will be quick and as pain free as possible as I dislike suffering.
An example of some of the risk factors at any given time, including in this very room right now. You, as another person with free will, you could insult me, ridicule me, yell at me, physically assault me or even kill me should you choose to do so. Conversely, you could be compassionate, provide care and comfort, provide a sense of friendship and assist to alleviate some of my fears. So in making a risk assessment of you the assessment that I make of you determines how I will interact with you. This could be cautious, could be avoidant, could be joyful, and could be any number of other things that are dependant on the actual circumstances and my history of previous interactions with you.
Personal risk is only one component of the risk ‘premium’ in the room however. Other factors may be other people, what are my relationships to them, how are they likely to react to me, ect. The more people present, the greater the risk of unknowns, the greater the dangers of unforeseen and unplanned for events taking place that I do not have control of, or that I have insufficient control of.
As a result of forever being on guard and taking only calculated risks, I avoid crowds- the risk factors are too high, my personal control of events and circumstances are way, way too low. I consequently dislike activities like parties, music concerts, or even shopping in crowded stores for groceries. I even stress to my kids to ‘spot the danger’ to be ever vigilant to protect themselves.
Another factor would be physical safety. Am I safe here in this room? The furniture is likely flammable and could, with a source of ignition ignite and cause physical injury to one or both of us. The furniture or other objects in the room if picked up and thrown could be considered weapons that could cause me physical harm. How stable and well built is the structure we are meeting in? Would the structure provide security from the weather, and natural disasters such as tornadoes, flash floods, or Earthquakes? Other risks include wiring problems, and resulting dangers of electrocution.