I spent a good number of years of my life trying to “learn self defense”. The problem is I took this to mean that I needed to know badass techniques and that I needed to be serious and always thinking about danger. Not a good recipe.
I basically spent a long time programming myself to be a grumpy worry-wort. This is not a good self defense strategy. A worry-wort looks the opposite of confident and in charge (i.e. he’s not sending the signals of someone who will be calm and rational if attacked – i.e. someone who is dangerous for a BG to pick on).
Because I was always looking for the next super-duper-Bruce-Lee move I was always shifting the goal posts, but not in the good making-progress kind of way, it was the never-feel-good-enough kind of way. This sounds like someone who is permanently unhappy doesn’t it? And what do BG’s know about unhappy looking people? Unhappy people usually dwell on, mull over and generally obsess over their unhappiness, meaning that they’re so stuck in the universe inside their heads that they’re not looking around effectively. In other words, unhappy people make easy targets.
So basically, because I made my life entirely about “self defense” Not only did I not calm down enough to learn what actually mattered (effective situational awareness, better mindset etc. etc.) but I was actively making myself more likely to get attacked.
Fortunately I started reading Rory Miller, listening to Tony Robbins, and watching Elliott Hulse. These guys (and some others) really helped me understand and come to terms with how human emotions work and the fact that you are NOT your emotions, that you have a choice, and that monitoring your internal “emotional environment” are important ways to keep yourself happy in this life.
The beauty of learning about emotional self-control is that I’ve picked up on spotting what’s happening in other people too. And between being a happier person who stops to smell the roses (external awareness) and figuring out other people’s emotional state and what their “self-talk” is (awareness of other people and their behaviour), my situational awareness has sky-rocketed. Couple that with happiness, confidence, a decent dose of MacYoung and Miller wisdom, add in a shot of some valuable lessons from knife fighting training and other places and you’ll find me a (hopefully) much less appealing target. And more importantly, I’m happier, a better person, and I now know that I have to always work at being a better husband and father.
SO what was my big mistake – forgetting that this stuff was just a tool in the toolbox.