RealFighting

ALWAYS TRUST YOUR INTUITION

by Michael Linehan

If your warning bells are going off, there IS something wrong.

What is Intuition?
Your intuition is direct perception of reality without conscious interpretation. It’s a hunch, gut feeling or instinct. Intuition can give us a positive feeling or a warning message. Right now, we are concerned with the incredibly important warning messages your intuition can give you.

We all experience them in many different ways, sometimes as internal feelings and sometimes as physical sensations. There’s nothing mysterious or mumbo-jumbo about intuition. Your ability to sense danger in this way is a fundamental, biological survival mechanism. It is immensely sensitive and powerful. It is the subconscious complement to the conscious awareness. When a predator is after you, part of you knows it.

There is far too much going on around us all the time for us to be consciously aware of it all. The brain is constantly making evaluations about what we need to pay attention to right now, focusing on that with the conscious mind, and setting the rest aside. But the subconscious remains aware of it all. If the subconscious mind thinks something is important, you’ll get a signal, a gut feeling.

It’s as if that deeper part of your mind is shouting, “Hey! Urgent message! Something is wrong! We need to change priorities and focus on this other thing.” This means you can pick up subtle information and intuit danger long before your conscious mind is aware of anything out of the ordinary. For this reason, you must always pay attention to your intuitive feelings.

Have you ever had a hunch or gut feeling about something — and put it aside? Maybe you said to yourself something like: “I’m just being paranoid.” or “He’s being perfectly nice. What’s wrong with me?” or “They’ll think I’m stupid.” And then later what happened? Perhaps something unpleasant, or even dangerous. Your first intuition was right!

Many women have told us about a time they ignored an intuition of danger and failed to keep themselves safe. Very few attacks come without some kind of warning. Particularly when we know the person, it is tempting to put the warnings aside, thinking, “What’s wrong with me?” Usually, we have our guard up when someone fits our concept of a potential criminal (maybe a rough-looking street punk), but we let it down for everyone else.

Don’t forget that criminals, including sexual predators, look like anyone else. In fact, far more of them look average or even well dressed than look like thugs. The clues that can be picked up by your intuition and your awareness will help safeguard you against most danger if you pay attention to their warnings.

The best self-defense of all is not to have to defend yourself! With awareness and intuition, you can keep yourself out of most potentially dangerous situations.

If you listen to your intuition and express your feelings to other people, they may agree with you: “Yeah, he really creeps me out too.” But often they may tell you that you are being paranoid or over-reacting. Don’t listen to them. They weren’t there at the time. Your perception of the situation is the one that matters. When your intuition warns you, act to increase your safety

We are the only animal that will walk into danger with our intuition screaming at us, “Look out!” When your intuition warns you, do not continue with the present action unchanged. If your warning bells are going off, there is always something wrong. Not trusting your feelings and then not acting on them can sometimes turn out to be disastrous.

When you second-guess this incredible gift from your mind, you may put yourself in danger. You may leave the area, set a boundary, cross the street, or lock the door. But do something. Err on the side of caution — it’s better to have a wide, comfortable safety margin. Far too many women have erred on the side of giving a predator the benefit of the doubt.

When your gut reaction says that someone is dangerous, do whatever is necessary to put a safe distance between you and the person who is causing you discomfort, even if it causes you some inconvenience. Sometimes acting on your intuition can feel awkward, embarrassing, even stupid, or it might make you feel nervous. Sometimes making the right choice is hard. Do it anyway.

Keep your focus on ensuring your safety, self-respect and well-being. Don’t let embarrassment or other uncomfortable feelings stop you from being safe. My self worth and safety are more important than anyone’s embarrassment or inconvenience — even my own. (quoted with permission of KidPower)

But He's So Nice!
Most people think being nice is a character trait. It is not. Being nice is simply a set of behaviors such as speaking politely and gently, smiling, and doing something that people think of as considerate or helpful. So separate the external behavior and realize that it may or may not be reflective of what is inside.

Some good people may not seem very nice — they are so shy that no-one knows what they are really like. On the other hand, Ted Bundy, probably the most infamous serial rapist/murderer ever, was thought by many to be very nice. This was how he fooled his victims and gained privacy and control.

Ask yourself, “Why is he being so nice to me — what does he want?” This might help you see through a predator’s tricks or manipulations. He is relying on your tendency to trust seemingly nice people, and on your strong inclination to be polite and considerate.

Most predators use the nice approach first. If your warning bells are going off about some apparently nice person, pay attention to his intentions and his actions. Reassess the motives for his behavior. Act to increase your safety.

Intuition Plus Common Sense
Combining your intuition with sensible safety precautions will go a long way toward keeping you safe. While we stress that if your warning bells go off, there is something wrong, that does not mean that if they do not go off, everything is fine. You must also be well informed about what actions are safe and which are not. Sometimes your intuition can have gotten quiet because you haven’t been listening to it. Also, some of these creeps are really good con-artists. We have spoken to some teens who believe that they are safe hitching a ride because they trust their intuition.

They should know that hitching a ride is never safe, no matter how much you trust your gut, because, when you get into someone’s car, you have given away privacy and control. Intuition is a fabulous tool, but it is not enough by itself. Knowledge and common sense must always be a part of your safety strategy.

Promise yourself, right now, that you will always listen to your intuition in the future, and that you will always, in some way, act on it. By making this decision, your level of safety will jump, immediately and dramatically.

Summary
- Intuition is an innate, critical warning system.
- Trust your intuition. If the warning bells are going off, there is something wrong.
- Niceness is not a character trait. It is just a set of behaviors, which may or may not reflect what is inside the person.
- Always act on your intuition — do something to increase your level of safety.
- Use your common sense with your intuition to stay safe.
- Keep paying attention to and practicing your intuition. It will repay you by speaking to you more clearly, more powerfully and more often.

Now commit
I commit to always listen to my intuition. I believe that, if it is warning me, something is wrong. Therefore, when my intuition warns me, I will act in some way to keep myself safe.

Understand Reality -- And Face It

by Michael Linehan

When you accept the possibility of attack, you can see the warning signs before danger strikes.

Understanding and accepting the true facts of reality are critical steps in keeping yourself safe. For example, if a woman believes attacks only come from strangers, she will take no precautions when with an acquaintance. She’ll also ignore any warning signs because they don’t fit with her mistaken understanding of reality. Suddenly, she may find herself in a very dangerous situation. The more you understand reality, the more you can take appropriate precautions in each part of your life.

Not accepting reality can simply be a matter of not knowing the facts. Then just having some new information can completely change someone’s ability to take care of herself. However, there is another barrier to facing reality that is pervasive in our society. This is called being in denial — denying there is or could be a problem and so refusing to admit what we really do know, or refusing to learn something new.

Why Getting Past Denial is so Important
If you are reading this, you have already taken a big step past denial. Let’s make sure you get beyond it altogether. Denial is your biggest enemy. Women who believe “It won’t happen to me” don’t develop the important skills to ensure their own safety and are horribly surprised when something happens. “It came out of nowhere” is a typical statement from such an unprepared person.

A crucial step to increasing your safety is accepting the fact that you could be the target of harassment or attack. You can understand this from parallel circumstances in other areas of your life. For example, once you admit to yourself that you could be in a car crash no matter how good a driver you are, you’ll take preventative measures. You’ll always put on your seat belt, watch for erratic drivers running the red light, and so on. You are not expecting to have a car crash, but you want to be prepared in case a dangerous driver comes your way.

Many of the bad things that happen to people could be prevented (car crashes, workplace accidents, preventable diseases, violence). Imagine what all those people thought before they became victims. Probably every single one of those hundreds of thousands thought, “It won’t happen to me. I drive carefully/don’t smoke much/have nice friends.”

You must get past the idea that it can’t happen to you. Once you acknowledge that a predator could target you, you immediately become safer — because you can immediately become more aware and take precautions. You need to be prepared, but you need to be prepared in advance. In an emergency, it’s too late to start thinking about what to do.

"I used to read in the newspaper about a rape or a home invasion happening in another neighborhood, but never really thought that it could happen to me. Facing the reality that I could possibly be attacked has enabled me to look for ways to increase my safety." Martha G.

The reality of violence is uncomfortable to contemplate. We all tend to think other people are pretty much like us. We don’t want to hurt anyone so we have a hard time believing others would want to hurt us. But there are those among us who are not only willing to hurt someone else, they want to. It makes them feel good.

This is what an attacker is. He is not just making a mistake or having a miscommunication. He wants to dominate you, manipulate you, trick you, intimidate you, or force you to do what he wants. Decide now to accept no emotional or physical abuse. Look after yourself.

"Facing reality meant telling a neighbor with two small daughters to keep his children away from his neighbor — the man who had molested me as a child." Karen J.

Some women say they don’t want to think about these things because they don’t want to feel afraid. The truth is that they are already afraid and spend all day, every day, trying to bury and push the uncomfortable thoughts and feelings aside. What they really mean is that they don’t want to look their fear in the face.

There are two kinds of fear. There is the natural, sensible reaction to imminent danger, i.e. real danger that is in front of us right now. This type of fear is a great asset — it actually helps ready the body for flight or fight. It amps up our senses and our power. It helps us win! One important characteristic of this kind of fear is that when the danger is past, the fear goes away.

The other type of fear is the gnawing, everyday anxiety — the fear of the imagined possibility, of parking lots, of taking the dog out in the evening, of an unfamiliar sound. This kind of fear can limit everything you do. But you can face this pervasive anxiety and do something about it. Otherwise, your life will be so much less than it can be. Taking responsibility for your safety and learning new skills can give you a new sense of security and diminish fear. Let fear be your friend and advisor, but not your jailer.

Sticking your head in the sand may seem comforting at first, but your subconscious always knows when you are not prepared. Most of what you communicate to others is through movement, posture, voice quality, eye movement and other non-verbal cues. This is your subconscious communicating, and you may or may not be aware of what you are saying. When you are unprepared for the possibility of danger, it shows in your body language and your voice. On the other hand, if you are prepared for danger and are prepared to look after yourself, potential assailants can sense that. They are more likely to classify you as a hard target and stay away from you.

We may not even realize that fear is controlling us. We become masters at hiding the little anxieties, nervousness, and uncertainty from ourselves. We learn to brush off uncomfortable emotions with reasons such as “I’m imagining things,” “I’m mistaken,” or “He didn’t mean it in a bad way.” Think about it. Aren’t there times when you are home alone or in a parking lot when you rush, hoping nothing will happen? And aren’t there times when you feel uncomfortable with someone and don’t quite know how to take or handle a comment, look or gesture? Wouldn’t your life be more enjoyable if such moments didn’t bother you?

"Facing reality gives me a huge sense of relief. I used to be fearful of what could happen to me, of certain environments, situations or people, but I did my best to ignore those fears because I didn’t want to be consumed by them. In actuality, I was consumed by fear without really knowing it. I didn’t realize what a damper it put on me until I got rid of it, how big a part it played in my life until it left! Imagine. Like always I am aware, and I am careful, and now I have a plan if I need it. I was only able to make a plan after I faced reality full on. Facing reality gave me knowledge, and knowledge is my weapon. Facing reality is essential to my safety." JULIE W.

Denial is the biggest enemy of real safety. When we acknowledge the possibility of trouble, we can begin to keep ourselves safe.

Articles from "Real World Safety for Women"
by Christine Schlattner and Michael Linehan

Endorsement
"Real World Safety for Women is that rare combination of practical information and readability that keeps its promise to readers — greater skills and greater safety. In a culture that holds women down, here is a book that lifts them higher."

Gavin de Becker - Best-selling author of The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals that Protect Us From Violence and Protecting the Gift: Keeping Children and Teenagers Safe (and Parents Sane).

About the Authors
Christine and Michael have trained thousands of women and men in personal empowerment through self defense. Many of their graduates have successfully protected themselves verbally and physically. They each have a Master of Arts in adult education, have made an intense study of the psychology of change, and have a combined 35 years experience in facilitating personal growth. Michael holds a third-degree black belt in Aikido.

Together they run the Internet Marketing company, Marketing Alchemy (www.marketing-alchemy.com).