Loren and I were talking last week and he mentioned something that would be an interesting topic to talk about here. It combines the three things I mention in the title:
Here’s what I mean:
We all like to think of ourselves as bad-ass mo-fo’s who eat nails and spit them out as bullets. It’s a nice and comforting thought but it isn’t accurate: except for rare cases, most people will feel fear when they’re in a self-defense situation. That fear can manifest itself in many different ways but I’m only going to focus on one of them now: negative self-talk.
Picture this situation
You’re having drinks with a couple buddies in an up-scale bar, a place where the bad guys usually don’t come. You’re having fun and so is everybody else there. Nothing going on but everybody having a good time. But you do a regular radar sweep every now and then, just in case.
During one of those sweeps, something pings on the screen: one guy gives off a negative vibe. You let your sweep pass him by and then observe him in your peripheral vision. A couple of things become apparent right away:
- He’s huge. Taller, heavier and at first glance, a lot stronger than you.
- He’s from a specific Eastern-European ethnicity. One that has a large, exceedingly violent and very tough criminal element in the city.
- He moves like he knows how to fight. The way he stays balanced, the coordination and deliberate movements, they all let you know he’s busted some skulls before.
- His expression is extremely negative. His face says he’s angry as hell.
So you do a quick check of your surroundings, look for routes of escape, improvised weapons, obstacles to use against him and most importantly: how to get your friends out in one piece too. You use another sweep to mask that you’re looking at him for more information-gathering and something happens: he looks right at you, giving you the evil eye.
That little voice inside your head suddenly pipes up and says:
“Damn, he’s big. He must hit really, really hard…”
Not exactly a roaring vote of confidence from your subconscious…
Not to leave you hanging: I managed to avoid a confrontation with that guy, even though it took a lot of maneuvering to stay clear of him. No blood, no foul and all is well that ends well.
That’s what Loren and I were discussing: sometimes, that voice in your head just starts undermining your efforts to avoid problems and defend yourself. If you listen to it, it becomes so much harder to get out of the situation in one piece.
Why does this happen? Hard to say, there could be many different reasons for it.
Think this doesn’t apply to you? Think again. It can happen to anybody: people with no training or experience and experts with hundreds of violent encounters under their belt.
In the next part of this post, I’ll discuss some of the ways to deal with this but for now, I’d like to ask you to share your own experiences:
What did the voice inside your head say when this happened to you?
Just write it here in the comments and I’ll use it in the next post.
Click here to read Fear, self-talk and self-defense, Part Two