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The ABC’s of Empowerment Self-Defense - The Letter I

The ABC’s of Empowerment Self-Defense

Self-defense is more than just how hard you can hit. It is the full spectrum of tools that you can use to protect yourself every single day. We utilize skills from self-defense in our decision-making processes, such as when we communicate with people, when we drive or do activities, and more! Self-defense is really so expansive that we thought we would give you a better idea of what to expect when you take a self-defense class with IMPACT by breaking it down for you ABC-style.

The Letter I: Intuition

(From the Safety Godmothers, written by Lisa Gaeta and Ellen Snortland)

“Never apologize for trusting your intuition – your brain can play tricks, your heart can blind, but your gut is always right” - Rachel Wolchin

Our bodies are ingeniously designed to protect themselves, and included in that design is a highly sensitive alarm system routed through our senses, beyond our logical brain. Our senses are “early warning systems” designed to keep us safe. These early warning systems work in conjunction with our other systems for survival. Innate reflexes, intuition, fight-or-flight reactions, and flinch responses — just to name a few — help us quickly make decisions and automatically respond to danger. For example, when something comes flying at your face, by the time you think about stopping it your flinch response has already kicked in and is raising your hands and turning your body away from the danger. Recent brain research has actually proven that the brain sends out signals to act before you are conscious of the action itself.

In our opinion, the most important tool we’ve been given is Intuition. People experience intuition differently. Your intuition will tell you when something is wrong, and most of the time, your intuition will be right.

If we understand intuition, we can hone it and use it to our advantage in many areas of our lives, not just for staying safe. Many of us have experienced the feeling of just knowing the decision we are making is right, or meeting someone for the first time and “clicking” with them, getting along with them right away. We believe these feelings also come from our intuition. In the same way, it gives us information that helps us determine if we are in danger; intuition also makes the connections that help us determine if things are right or good.

The Safety Godmothers have a non-scientific way of describing how intuition works: your system takes in all kinds of information through all of its senses and then devises a response. All day long you experience sounds and smells; you touch and taste and see things, many of which you are not consciously aware. Then at night, while you sleep, your brain processes all of the information and files it for retrieval later. That’s why you may have crazy dreams, like “why is that dolphin driving a car...?” Your brain is trying to figure out how all the information fits together. Then later, when you encounter a stranger for example, your brain will compare what’s in front of you with all of the information it has gathered and give you a sign. Some people feel the hair on the back of their necks stand up, some people get goose bumps — everyone is different — but we all get some kind of sign. And this happens in nanoseconds.

On the same note, someone may approach you to ask a question and you feel relaxed; none of your alarms are going off. That’s intuition, too, telling you things are fine.

You may have heard someone say “if my dog likes you, then you are OK with me.” In light of scientific revelations of how dogs interact with people, what’s probably going on is that the dog is not making its own intuitive decision; rather, the dog is “reading” its master’s eye movements, emotional state and body language, and will react one way or another depending on how the master responds. So we guess it’s OK that you trust your dog’s intuition, since she or he is simply reading yours. Brilliant!

Students often ask us questions like, “How will I know if the person asking me for directions means me harm or not? What if they are really just asking for directions, and instead I tell them to take a step back... won’t that just make them angry?”

This all boils down to a very simple, yet profound question: “What if I’m wrong?” What if my intuition tells me something and because of that I hurt a person’s feelings or anger them?

The first thing we want to say is that you cannot turn a normal person into an assailant. If, for example, a person approaches you and asks for directions and your intuition tells you to ask them to take a step back, the way they respond will give you all the information you need at the conscious level. A person who means you no harm will probably just apologize and take a step back. A person who means you harm will likely get angry at the request. There is your answer! If they get annoyed with you for setting a boundary, you need to be prepared to protect yourself.

On another note, if your intuition tells you something is wrong with the situation in front of you, and you respond by getting into ready stance and looking like you are aware and therefore not a good target, they may just walk away — problem solved. You may not know for sure if they actually meant harm, but it doesn’t matter, as long as you are safe.

Learning to respect your intuition will serve you well in life.

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