Have you ever done something totally new in your life? I have, many times! I always think it will look so amazing, so smooth, so in control. But it DOESN’T, not to start with anyway! Anytime I step out of my comfort zone, I experience the awkwardness and the clumsiness of new behaviors.
I remember when I chose to be a car salesman at one time in my life. Now mind you, in the beginning I couldn’t tell a Civic from a Camaro (what was I thinking?). I found myself stumbling over the “right” words to say. I felt like a fraud. Needless to say…I was pretty lost at times. But I kept on going…kept practicing…kept putting myself out there. Eventually I learned to recognize the car emblems so I knew what kind of car I was talking about, I learned the right thing to say at the right time, and I was able to gain the trust of many, many customers, who came back again and again, just to work with me.
This behavior of learning new things has followed me into my path of learning self-protection. For example, I have learned the specifics of how to be aware of what is happening around me. I know that I should look around and observe my surroundings instead of walking through them oblivious to anything around me, focused on my phone to see what the new Facebook post was about. So, as I started this new “being aware,” I would find myself halfway through a parking lot, looking at my phone, and then remember that I need to look up, be aware of people, cars, and other happenings around me. I would put my phone down, look around and see that I just passed a couple of guys, and I had no idea what they looked like, or if they even paid any attention to me as I walked past them. I realized that the level of unawareness I had just allowed myself to be in, had put me in a potentially dangerous situation. So, basically, even though I knew what I was supposed to do, my old patterns had taken over and I found myself wondering, “what could have happened.” The good news is that I caught myself half way through the parking lot, and began again with my new behavior of awareness.
I think many times, women feel that they are powerless to stop an assailant if they are “chosen” as the victim. They may worry about being too weak, or uneducated in self-defense to do anything that is effective to get out of the situations. I can tell you, it is all about learning new behaviors, about knowing what to do and acting on them. One of the behaviors we teach in the Refuse to Be a Victim course, and in the LaBCaF Self-Protection Course for Women is about how to be aware. What to look for as you pass people in your day to day life. How to send the message that you are NOT an easy target. It is still a little awkward for me to look at people as I pass them and take an accounting of them, but I am getting better at it. I practice it every day. My awkwardness is changing into a calm, natural behavior.
As children we didn’t stop ourselves from learning. Even when we fell down as we were learning to walk, it didn’t stop us. It didn’t matter what other people thought, or if we looked foolish. We just knew we wanted to get up and get across the room. So over and over again, we got up, wobbled to the left, stumbled to the right, and eventually made it across the room to our desired goal. What strength that is!
I try to remember the strength of childlike determination as I face the fears that tell me that I might not be strong enough, or prepared enough if a bad guy does decide to target me. I take my baby steps, and remember to practice. I wobble to the left, and stumble to the right, and I remember that learning to protect myself is something I can do. I have learned that it starts with practicing these new behaviors every day. I practice, even when I am uncertain that it will be enough. I practice, and practice, and practice. I felt the thrill of success today, when I walked past a guy in the grocery store and I asked myself, what was he wearing? It was a tan colored ball cap. I turned back to see if I was right, and I WAS! Although knowing his description was important (in case I had to describe him), it was more important that my awareness of him sent the message that “I see you, I can describe you, I am not an easy, unaware target.” This was a victory for me today. I am now stronger and more self confident. Now, onto tomorrow with more practice! I can do this, YOU can do this. Just remember to practice your awareness skills with childlike determination!