To prevail in a physical confrontation, it is helpful to have a number of key skills and attributes–various hard and soft skills, plus the ability to not crack (too much) under pressure; to stay as calm and as focused as you can be under highly stressful circumstances, circumstances that can change quickly and go badly wrong at any time with little or no warning.
Clearly, the more skills and high value training you have under your belt, the greater your chances of prevailing under tricky and often desperate conditions.
You are not fighting because you want too, are you? You are not fighting because you enjoy it.
You are fighting because you had no other choice.
Quite possibly you may be fighting for your life.
However, no matter how many skills you have, there is one other very vital attribute that you absolutely need to prevail in a physical confrontation.
You need self-belief.
On a very deep level, you must believe that you can prevail in a violent confrontation.
If you don’t, your chances of doing so will have drastically reduced.
This is bad for many reasons, but the main one is this: Your aggressor whole-heartedly believes that they can beat you, otherwise they wouldn’t be trying it on with you.
The power balance here greatly favours your aggressor. This is why so many people fail to prevail against their assailant, because their assailant has the self-belief that they can win.
Self defence is not only about fighting skills. If it was, we wouldn’t hear so many stories about martial artists and combat sports people getting creamed on the street by “untrained” thugs.
These untrained thugs have the absolute belief that they can do the business anytime, anywhere, and they very often do so.
How many times in a violent confrontation have you not hit first when you know you should have? How many times have you allowed yourself to be bullied, verbally and/or physically, because you didn’t have the self-belief that you could assert yourself and stand your ground?
If you don’t have the fundamental belief that you can handle violent confrontation in all its forms, despite the fact that there is no real reason why you shouldn’t be able to, then you will struggle greatly in a violent situation and your aggressor will almost always get the better of you.
Remember that most of the guys on the street who you will likely be confronted by will have more experience than you in this sort of thing. The very fact that they are choosing to engage in violence with you in the first place should give you a clue as to their confidence and self-belief.
Violent, aggressive people tend to make a habit of being violent and aggressive towards others. They use violence and intimidation to get what they want on a regular basis.
As it’s highly unlikely that you do the same, it’s also doubtful that you have a fraction of their real world experience. That puts you at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to believing that you can handle what they’ve got.
The thugs and criminals definitely have the edge when it comes to self-belief.
So how can we fix this and redress the balance? How do we get the self-belief we need in order to act when we have too and prevail under difficult circumstances?
Here are some tips to help us do just that:
Tip#1: Self Belief Can Be Learned
Nothing about you is set in stone, including your level of self-belief. Everything can be changed if you try hard enough and go about it in the right way.
If you are struggling with self-belief then you first have to look at some of the ideas you hold about yourself, especially those ideas you hold about how you handle confrontation.
Over the years, due to bad experiences or things other people have told you, you may have formed negative beliefs about yourself.
You may have come to believe that you are not the fighting type, that you are not cut out for violence, that you are too soft with people, that you are a bit of a doormat, that you are not very assertive…all kinds of ideas and beliefs.
Now, just because you happen to hold such ideas and beliefs about yourself, doesn’t make them true.
When I first started bouncing I used to hold the belief that I wasn’t really cut out for the job. I wasn’t assertive enough, I was too afraid of violence etc.
However, after a while I began to examine those beliefs and I soon discovered that many of them were not really true. They may have been at one time in my life, but they certainly were not true now.
Whatever the reason you have held on to these beliefs, now is the time to discard them, for they serve no purpose except to hold you back.
Tip#2: Deal With The Inner Opponent
The Inner Opponent manifests itself through negative thoughts and emotions, but especially through a negative inner voice. It’s that nagging voice that tells you that you can’t do something because [insert reason here].
So in the middle of a confrontation you may hear an inner voice saying, “You can’t handle this, you’re out of your depth here. This guy is going to kill you!”
Stop for a second and think about some of the voices you have heard and ask yourself: Whose voice is it really?
Quite often you will find it is the negative voice of someone from your past, like an old school bully, a negative parent or friend, or just a mish-mash of lots of different negative influences.
One thing is for sure, that voice does not belong to you. It may be masquerading as your own voice but it isn’t yours.
The next time you hear that voice, counter it with something more positive, like, “I can handle this”, or else just plain ignore it.
Tip#3: Turn Weakness Into Strength
If all you focus on is what you perceive to be not right about yourself, you will miss opportunities for self-belief.
While you shouldn’t assume there is nothing to improve about yourself, you shouldn’t also just focus on your perceived weaknesses without also looking at how you can improve said weaknesses, while also giving fair focus to your strengths as well.
For example, if you are not very good at verbal de-escalation and talking when under pressure, you should try to find the positive in this. Staying silent or saying very little in a violent confrontation can help to unnerve your aggressor. They will think you are super confident and sure of yourself because you obviously don’t feel the need to say anything in response.
Another example. Instead of seeing not being able to take pre-emptive action as a weakness, see it as a positive, because instead of just hitting the guy, you are more likely to try harder to defuse the situation by other means and thus maybe avoid violence altogether.
Shifting your perspective in this way can really help you bolster your self-belief instead of having it drained by your perceived weaknesses.
Tip#4: Anchor A Power State
I spoke about the power of anchoring in my article on adrenal management.
Basically, anchoring is when you make available certain states of mind just when you need them.
In the context we are talking about here, you will want to create a state that enables confidence, ability, courage and competence, a state in which you can handle just about any kind of physical confrontation.
Follow the steps in this article to create your anchor.
Using an anchor like this in a situation will really help you to bolster your self-belief.
Those were just a few tips that you can use to boost your self-belief as it relates to prevailing in a physical confrontation.
There is obviously more to it than this. Tied up with self-belief are also things like self-confidence and self-esteem, things that have to be worked on over time.
Look at your past experiences with physical confrontation. Examine what you did right and what you did wrong. Then look at how you can improve future performance.
As with most areas of growth, a good bit of self-examination is required in order to change things into how you want them to be.
As Sun Zsu said:
“To win all battles, know thyself.”
We have a tendency to look outside of ourselves for answers to things. We think more fighting techniques, more knowledge of self defence law and violence dynamics, more reading books, more watching videos, more listening to others (instructors or otherwise) will help us find what we need.
These things definitely help, they give us guidance and direction, but the skills and knowledge gained from these sources will not make you capable in a violent confrontation, not if the catalyst of self-belief is not there to activate them first.
Only you can choose to be the kind of person who is fully functioning and capable in a violent encounter.
Only you have access to the inner-controls necessary to do this.
If things stand in the way of those controls, you have to work on clearing those obstacles.
No one else is going to do it for you.
Be proactive. Take a stand and do whatever you have to do to get results.
That’s what self protection is all about, is it not?
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