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One of the biggest struggles people have when it comes to trusting their judgement and intuition is being able to recognise and act upon red flags, or what I call code amber and red alerts. Ignoring or second-guessing early warning signs always leads winding up knee-deep in situations that are a bigger manifestation of the original potential issues we dismissed or rationalised. In this week’s episode of The Baggage Reclaim Sessions, I do a deep dive into code amber and red alerts. What do they mean, why does this matter so much and knowing when to call it.

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Nuggets from the episode

  • Someone’s perceived potential is often a barrier to people registering and acting on red flags. In these situations, we’ve already decided how we want things to be. Sometimes our focus is what we want to get out of the situation. Thinking about things in code amber and red terms can then mean that in a situation where we’re ignoring ourselves to chase potential, this is an alert that we are going against us.
  • Whatever we ignore in the early stages of a relationship or situation always comes back to bite further down the line. Not only do we have the same issue in a bigger way but only now we’re more invested in the situation, but we also pay the price of ignoring ourselves.
  • Anxiety and fear aren’t ‘bad’. It’s ignoring or misusing them that cause us to run into problems.

Code amber alerts mean stop, look, listen and proceed with awareness (and/or caution). Code red alert means stop, don’t proceed, danger, incompatibility. Both are asking you to be more boundaried.

  • Code amber alerts want you to get grounded. Get a sense of your surroundings and what you’re thinking, feeling and doing. Assess the situation. Notice yourself. Acknowledge whether there are gaps of knowledge that you need to fill in before you can proceed with confidence.
  • If it’s not super-obvious why something is an issue or we know that we’re unsettled but we just don’t know why, it’s a code amber alert that by acknowledging it, we take better care of us. We also become open to gaining further clarity and resolution.
  • Anything that’s a code amber will be temporary because it will go green (resolved) or go red.
  • Code red alerts cover incompatibility and danger. Anything that isn’t congruent with us living and loving with love, care, trust and respect is a code red.
  • Anything that compromises our character and wellbeing isn’t a fit.
  • An ignored code red alert intensifies both in the level of the problem but also in the alerts we receive.

If you barely know someone and you’re already getting code amber and red alerts, is it really worth ignoring yourself to proceed?

  • One of the incredibly handy things about being willing to listen to ourselves and acknowledge alerts is that we see things that we didn’t see before in the past. Maybe we didn’t understand why something was an issue, and now it clicks into place. Perhaps we finally see how aspects of our childhood wounds have been making themselves known through some of our interpersonal relationships.
  • Sometimes we have to wonder what on earth we see in someone we barely know when we’re willing to ignore us so quickly into the proceedings. What would we do if we knew someone for longer?!
  • Any type of rescuing dynamic is a code red alert that we’re in a codependent pattern and that we have fuzzy boundaries.

Making out our problem is that we’re too needy/demanding/difficult/sensitive or whatever is a code red alert that we are dismissing, minimising, criticising and harming us.

  • We don’t need to turn our noticing code amber and code red issues into a sport of trying to catch people out.
  • Outside of issues of abuse, when we recognise that an issue is big enough that it puts a wrecking ball through being able to proceed from a place of being in a mutually fulfilling relationship, romantic or otherwise, with love, care, trust and respect, the relationship can’t proceed as is. The code red issue has to be acknowledged. The boundaries need to reflect recognition of the issue.
  • Our subconscious is our mental filing system. We only have awareness of a small percentage of the billions of files. If we attempted to have everything open, it, like a computer, would put huge pressure on our ‘resources’. When we intuit that something is off or wrong, often that information is coming from those files. Sure, there will be some misfiling in there, but there’s also plenty of handy data about what does and doesn’t work for us if we’re willing to be curious.

Links mentioned

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