Oprah And "The Gift"

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Well, another day, another "talk show" … get the ads telling me who is on each day – just never seem to have the time to watch them all …. "if only" – (well, I guess that would mean life was boring so …) Anyways, I had really wanted to see Mr Gavin de Becker on Oprah. I have enjoyed his book – The Gift of Fear and wanted to see what he had to say "in person". Was a busy afternoon with running to do but saw a few bits and pieces in passing. I know he has a lot to say in his book but the only real message I heard today was "trust your instincts". Now, I agree – yes – that is VERY, VERY important !! But I was really hoping to hear so much more … it has been 10 years since the book came out and times are a changin '…

In addition to the ALL IMPORTANT INSTINCTS … most of what we do on a daily basis that puts us at risk / being in danger has to do with the choices we make. As I teach every morning, I listen to story after story. The first set of stories is from employees of corporations sharing their tales of victimization – they were outside smoking, someone asked for a light and next thing they knew they were being robbed; someone followed them home from work at night after stalking them for weeks and they drove into their own driveway to call police; they had a security system and thought they were safe so they failed to keep their doors and windows locked – hitting the "panic" button did not help get the police fast enough they were being attacked; it was raining and they left the car running as they ran inside to pay for gas quickly – car gone; same with wallets, iPods, left on the front seat of their cars; women leaving their purses unattended in a grocery cart; kids wearing clothing with their school or sports name on the front then giving our too much personal information to strangers who seem to be "nice"; they let a gas man into the house with an unscheduled appointment – I can go on and on – so many of these things can be AVOIDED if we just took one extra minute to think about our actions.

My weekly assignment to my high school students is to see how many of you they can "rob". They do not actually steal things (yet it is amazing how many items they "tally" for me by Monday morning of thing they could easily take if they had a "criminal mind") but they do watch your bad habits in the hope of not developing them. It is a lot of fun to hear how they have begun to "catch" themselves from doing things the more we practice and it has deteriorated a few of their parents as well. One girl had told her mother over and over again how someone could just walk up and steal her wallet from her sling, backpack purse and was ignored. So one weekend after being sent home with her "assignment" she was grocery shopping with mom. They were running and picking up items the purse on mom's back. My student "unzipped" the purse, removed her mother's wallet and waited until they got to the check out lane. Well, the wallet was "gone" and the mom and had not felt a thing. The daughter returned it with a "safety lecture" and mom has a new purse.

The second set of stories is from the students who like most of us just want to believe "it will not happen to me" – I live in an affluent part of town. Well, guess what? First, these girls are already in a high risk group because of their age (12-25) and then their naivety just leaves them open for victimization. They tell me things like: "oh, I know everything – I watched a video on self defense"; "I learned so many things from an email that I got from a friend about safety – if I'm approached or am abducted I would …. (punch out the tail light of the trunk I'm in and wave my arm out for help, puke on the guy, etc); "My driver's ed teacher told me all I have to do if someone tried to take me with my car is fall to the ground and act like I'm having an epileptic seizure and they will leave me alone ".

I should be thankful for these things because it keeps my classes fun, entertaining and the discussions never end – and I am never out of things to teach! The sad part of all of this is that there are not enough teachers like myself (Rape / Aggression / Defense – RAD) out there working to educate you and your kids to keep them safe. And even if their were enough educators, many just do not take the classes because they do not see the need or "put it off until later" – which may be too late. (Why not start today? Why not now when our children are teens and know everything? I commend the schools who have chosen to add these programs to their high school gym curriculum – it is a semester long and could be a life saving portion of their life long education! It at least gives them something to think about) Please remember too, this is not about "stranger danger". Statistics say that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 boys will be affected by molestation / rape in their lifetime. In addition, 90% of these attacks will not come from the "knife wielding" stranger behind a bush – they will come from someone we know! So will need to be ready to defend yourself even if you are "friendly" with your attacker which is hard to do in our "polite" society.

So what about that video? Myth one: you will not learn what you need to know about self defense from watching a video. Even as an instructor, I return to classes to learn through hands on training. Nothing can replace actual events, punching, practicing movements. You do not make something instinctual until you practice it hands on over and over. When you get into a situation where you need to defend yourself, you need to remember – this is not about choreographed karate moves (and I'm not saying anything is wrong with that) but this is about street fighting. At this point in time, "all bets are off". You will be fighting for your life! You will have approximately 5 seconds or so to make a move and do it hard enough to surprise and hopefully hurt your attacker so you can retreat to a "safe environment" and obtain the help you need. These things need to come second nature to you – you need to have a plan for safety BEFORE you ever need it. We plan and practice for Fires – why not our personal safety while out and about? You never hope to have a fire in your home but you are ready if it should ever happen – should not you be the same with self defense?

Now those emails that continuously circulate? Yes, some of the information is helpful (at least it makes you "think" about your safety and what you might do in a situation) but some can actually do more harm than good. The arm out a tail light strategy. Have you ever tried to get in the trunk of your car or looked at the way the tail light is set up? Sorry, can not do it. Best thing? DO NOT let anyone remove you to a secondary location! You have a better chance of survival (even if a weapon is involved) if you fight. Statistically, your chance of survival at a secondary location is less than 1%. Some say to scratch your attacker (good thing if you can get your fingers in their eyes) or to bite them (do you know what diseases your attacker may have? Just a thought.), As a very last resort these things may be helpful but otherwise they are just going to "tick off" your attacker. They want to upset you, they want you to panic and be afraid – you have just shown them it is working. (Now a good solid punch placed to an appropriate target on the other hand will make your point known!) There are just too many things about these emails that it would take several pages to rebut.

Finally, although I'm sure the Driver's Ed teacher was trying to be helpful by telling a few of my students to fake a seizure but …. first of all, if the attacker wants your car – give it to him! Second, the worst place you can be in any situation is on the ground. Why put yourself there are purpose? Do you not think if this attacker really wants you that they will just pick you up and throw you into the vehicle? When someone tells you about a self defense "move" that they think is good or helpful – ask your self: Is it a feasible thing to do? Then ask what would happen next? If I did this in a fight (and think cage fighting / street brawls), what would my opponent do to me next? Then, no matter what, you need to always assume your attacker is stronger than you are.

Then you need to learn and practice self defense techniques that will pit your strengths against your attacker's weaknesses …. and you should have a plan so you NEVER panic!

So, as much as I enjoyed Mr de Becker's presentation on Oprah today, I guess I was hiring for more. I would definitely say TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS and then I would add:

1. Be Aware of your environment (what's going on around you, where the exits are if needed and never lessen any of your senses – loud music through ear buds of iPod, etc)

2. Never Panic – have a plan, and a back up plan

3. If in trouble, use your voice and make a lot of noise, your attacker does not want to have attention drawn to the situation 3. Carry some form of self defense product such as a stream pepper spray (will talk about that another day but trust me on the STREAM)

4. Finally, use good judgment – (ie, do not walk alone at night, see a van that makes you uncomfortable … do not walk by it to get your car in the mall parking lot, go in and get a security escort – better to be Safe than Sorry).

We do not need to be PARANOID, and we do not want to be OBLIVIOUS, we need to be SMART.

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Source by Kimberly Elliott