On Her Own

The self-defense grind: why it’s worth the work

It’s a lot of work to prepare yourself against all of the various threats that you can face; you have to consider your home, your bank account, your emotional safety, your physical security, and more. The world is a scary place, and there are so many ways life can go wrong. It can seem like a losing battle to do all of the things you need to do to maintain the physical and mental boundaries that will keep the bad guys away, not to mention just the circumstances that can go sideways with nobody intentionally trying to harm you. You might wonder if it’s worth all of the resources that must be poured into defending yourself or if it really was better when you lived in ignorant bliss about the evils in the world. I think that the effort is worth it, and here are a few reasons why:

The bad stuff will happen regardless of whether you believe in bogeymen and nightmares. You cannot will them into or out of existence, and you cannot will them out of your life by thinking really really hard about only good things. Hoping that people will always be on their best behavior and that outcomes will always be in your favor is an optimistic way to move through the world. While that attitude is certainly less saddening and anxiety-provoking, it doesn’t change reality. By being honest about the negatives even while you stay appreciative of the positives, being pushed out of your comfortable existence won’t be quite so jarring when – not if – it happens. And that means you will be able to deal with those sudden difficulties more effectively and efficiently.

Preparation doesn’t need to be all-consuming. There are so many small things you can do that can increase your security significantly. Whether it’s as simple as locking doors behind you, carrying a small flashlight with you for those dark parking lots, or slowly saving a small emergency fund, you don’t have to make big changes in your life to manage many potential harmful events and people. You might not get to a point where you can obliterate every enemy who crosses your path, but you can, with relatively low amounts of effort, build enough skills and other resources to manage the most common. Instead of being overwhelmed by how much there is left to do, focus on how much you can and have done. Even if you can’t win a particular struggle, you can do enough to be able to go down fighting and that’s worth something too.

Having those resources and skills stockpiled as much as you can will make your life better today anyway. You can be more psychologically secure in your ability to handle the problems that might get thrown at you. When you have an idea that life isn’t all roses, it’s a little less scary when you know that you won’t be helpless when a weed comes up. That increased confidence will spill over into other areas of your life, more able to manage the small issues because you know you can manage the big ones. Plus even if nothing goes wrong, you will benefit from understanding the world a little better and maybe being more fit and healthy, more competent with tools and weapons, more comfortable in your space.

Remember, too, that you won’t always know how much the work you’re doing in anticipation of a possible negative event will prevent them from happening at all. The entire point of starting to employ preliminary measures and increasing your confidence is making yourself less of a target and more resilient against speed bumps. Deselection, the process of making a bad guy veer off because something about you seems like too much hassle, can be so effective that you won’t have seen them creeping towards in you in the first place. Even when you aren’t successful in total prevention, you might now be able to solve the problem with so little effort that it seems like it wasn’t much of one at all, thought it might have been if you hadn’t banked all that work earlier.

And finally, not for nothing, you might find something you love in the process of getting ready to defend yourself. You might pick up that gun for the first time only because you think you have no other option to successfully defend your home against a violent ex-partner, but discover a love for the shooting sports and the community you find there. You might reluctantly start studying a martial art for self-protection, and end up with your weeknight and weekend passion, not to mention your new favorite fitness regimen. You might drag yourself into therapy to heal emotional wounds and learn how to save yourself from future abuse, and change careers after you decide that your calling is to help others with the same journey. The process of exploring the unfamiliar skills that go with protecting yourself from the dangers you imagine might lead you to find your true self, in a way you might never if you continue with a comfortable, easy life.

But you’ll have none of these things if you stick your head in the sand or refuse to do the work.

Hi, I'm Annette.

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