Saturday, 27 September 2014

Building self-confidence in a hostile environment

I am always amazed at people's willingness to believe nonsense. This willingness seems almost infinite, virtually universal, and does not know any limits or restrictions. How is it possible that millions of individuals endorse ideas that are manifestly false? Who is forcing them to adopt strategies that are obviously doomed to fail? This is not a rhetorical question, but a major practical issue. You have to realize that those who support false ideas are not only contributing to their own demise, but also causing trouble for other men and women.

When people find themselves in deep trouble, it is usually because they have made some large mistake in the past, a mistake that needs to be recognized and remedied. Of course, when someone finds himself enmeshed in deep problems, it is not the right moment to engage theoretical discussions and make unproven recommendations.

Before problems become overwhelming

Yet, if you wait until your problems become overwhelming, you run the risk of getting severely hurt, financially, physically, and psychologically. Unfortunately, people will all too often begin to address their concerns only after those have reached a critical level, and have become almost unmanageable.

It never ceases to astonish me that so many individuals are ignorant of the basic principles of self-protection, and instead, they prefer to adhere to invalid ideas that are convenient in the short term, but disastrous for the future.

It goes without saying that self-inflicted blindness never delivers good results. Waiting for catastrophes to happen, and then trying to reverse them is a horrible way to live. In contrast, wise men learned long ago that disasters should rather be avoided, dangers averted, and crises prevented.

If you ever find yourself in a critical situation, you have to employ your resources to overcome immediate threats, and at the same time, make sure that you draw the right conclusions from the story, and learn to protect yourself in the years to come.

When everything  fails, try this 

A hugely underrated discipline 

Self-protection is a hugely underrated discipline. When people speak about self-protection, they usually mean a set of skills for close physical combat, or the practice of martial arts such as judo or karate. Those are very narrow conceptions of self-defence, conceptions that render the term almost useless. If you limit the concept of self-defence to learning to fight in the street, you turn the whole idea into something ridiculously dangerous.

Besides, even if self-defence is crucially important to get you out of dire situations, it plays even a more critical role in helping you avoid those situations in the first place. When it comes to self-defence, the kind of expert that is worth listening to is precisely the one who never engages in physical combat because he systematically succeeds in avoiding aggressiveness.

You definitely don't want to learn self-defence from someone who spends his weekends quarrelling with drunkards, fighting juvenile gangs, or engaging in other kinds of irresponsible behaviour. Aggressive people should not be your role models for learning how to protect yourself.

The role model you need

Instead, you should be learning self-protection and conflict prevention from people who know how to stay out of trouble. The principles you can learn from those experts are going to help you stay safe, and overcome whatever problems you might be facing.

Conversely, the kind of expert that teaches you to kick your opponent between his legs is making you believe that it's a good idea to engage in physical combat with aggressive people. My contention is that such an approach to self-defence is not only impractical today, but suicidal in the long term.

Wise individuals do not conceive self-defence as a set of techniques for fighting at close range, but as the science of staying unharmed, no matter what. From this perspective, the best fighters are the ones who discourage enemies from attacking, and systematically steer out of trouble.

For more information about rational living and personal development, I refer you to my book The 10 Principles of Rational Living

[Text: copyright John Vespasian, 2014]

[Image: photo taken by John Vespasian, 2014.]

The 10 Principles of Rational Living

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