Friday, October 19, 2007

Self Defense Tip of the Week: Trust Your Instincts

We've all been in a situation before where we just had that feeling that something was wrong. Maybe you were walking alone and thought that someone was following you or watching you. At a college party some guy may have started giving you the creeps. Maybe these things are nothing. Do you ignore those feelings and continue as if all is well? It could be paranoia. Then again, maybe someone is following you with intent to rob you, or maybe that guy at the party slipped something into your drink and is just waiting for you to pass out. Sometimes you can walk into your office and you just know from the atmosphere that your boss is having a bad day and everyone is on edge. You don’t have to think about it, you just know it.

Our brains are constantly calculating. They process everything we see, hear, taste, smell and feel whether we are conscious of the fact or not. We have some built in automatic responses, like pulling quickly away from touching a hot surface to avoid burns. This happens without a thought. The pain signals are registered in the brain and the brain recognizes the danger and responds to it for you. So why doesn’t your brain respond the same to that creepy feeling? Well, believe it or not, it already has! Your subconscious has recognized that there is a danger and has sent your conscious brain warning signs so that you can make some decisions. The warnings might come as an upset stomach, tightness in your upper back and neck, speeding up of the heart and breath, or in some cases panic. This is all part or our fight or flight response.

We have this response to allow us to assess and evaluate a threat and respond with the best possible actions for survival. The problem is that in today’s world everything is moving at the speed of thought. We are in the beginnings of the information age. With access to the Internet we now know more about what’s going on in foreign countries half way around the world than we do about what’s going on right around us. We’re all plugged in. Everyone owns a cell phone and everyone is walking around with MP3 players hard wired into their ears. We are programming ourselves to ignore pretty much anything except the very obvious. Or maybe we pass off those jittery feelings as mere paranoia? Or maybe it wouldn’t be socially acceptable if you left the party or the bar early?

Whatever the reasons are, we need to start paying more attention to the natural indicators we were born with. When you need oxygen, you breathe. When you are hungry, you find something to eat. When you get those icky, jitterbug, creepy feelings that something isn’t quite right, LEAVE! Don’t worry about looking foolish, or missing out on a few beers and some good gossip. Develop a plan to vacate, and execute that plan.


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