The Mental Edge

One of my dear friends signed up my oldest daughter and me for a self-defense class last night.  It was not your typical self-defense class.  This class was taught at a center owned and run by a former Navy SEAL.  One of the core principles of this class was the idea that self-defense begins in the mind–in one’s mindset.  We walk away from a dangerous situation often because of how we view ourselves before we ever encounter a perpetrator.

To illustrate this point, our instructor told us a story about a police officer who pulled a driver over and approached his car.  The man in the car pulled out a handgun, aimed at the officer, and fired.  He then sped off down the road leaving the officer to die.  The downed officer’s body began to go into shock.  His blood pressure began to drop.  His breathing slowed.  He exhibited all the signs of dying.  His partner ran to him to put pressure on the bullet wound but could find no sign that he had actually been shot.  What he did find was that the bullet ricocheted off his partner’s belt buckle but never entered his body.  He was never shot, but the officer believed that he was.  His brain, therefore, told his body to prepare to die, and that’s what he was doing.

To counter this story, she told another story about an officer who actually was shot in the line of duty while attempting to rescue a child from a hostage situation.  While injured, he made it to safety, called in back-up, put pressure on his own wound, and gave details to other personnel while he waited for medical help.

An officer who behaved as if he were dying after he was not shot but believed he was vs. another officer who actually was shot but still performed well.

What makes the difference? Why does one person go down and another stand up under pressure? Well, according to the Navy SEALs, it’s mindset.  It’s what you believe about yourself that determines your outcome in many cases.  What mantra was suggested to us?

Always fight.  Always win.  Always survive.

Another one?

You will rue the day that you ever try to cause me harm.  I will always fight.  I will always win.  I will always survive. 

I agree with this wholeheartedly.  The SEALs call this a “mental edge”.  I call it self-determination.

We determine what we are worth.  We determine if we are worth fighting for or not.  We determine who gets close to us.  We determine if we will fight for our own lives and its betterment.  We determine if we are going to be happy.  No one else can do that for us.  We determine the moment when we will stand up and fight.

The hard part about fighting to win is deciding when that moment has arrived.  Most of our fights will never happen in a parking garage or a dark alley.  They happen closer to the home and heart.  Your adversary is clear when he’s threatening to harm you lest you turn over your wallet, but how clear is it when you’re being yelled at for not doing the laundry? How clear is it when you’ve been neglected for years? How clear is it when the person you love gets drunk from time to time and sexually forces himself on you in the middle of the night and then apologizes for it in the morning–or doesn’t remember it at all? How clear is it when you hear repeated promises that it will change but it never does? How clear is it when you never know what you’re going to get from moment to moment? How clear is it when the person hurting you over and over again is a person you love?

If you are going to fight to win, then you have to know that the person opposite you is no longer your ally.  You are your best ally now.  It’s time to fight so that you can survive in order to flourish somewhere else.  And, only you can decide when that time has come.

What I can say from personal experience is that if you live with an abuser or even a person who abuses, then you don’t have an ally in that person–even if they make promises to change and really do love you.  If you want to recover your health, well-being, and present and future happiness, then you will need to fight to win so that you can survive your present in order to flourish in your future.  This was the hardest thing for me to accept about my ex-husband.  At some point, he was no longer my ally in life, and I had to find my fight again.  I had to start fighting for myself because no one else could do that for me.

Fight for yourself.  You are worth it.  Find a mantra that is powerful and truthful.  Find a song that inspires you.  Take a look at your relationships.  Find your allies.  Stop negotiating for better treatment and giving up parts of yourself, bartering with your identity, settling for lesser loves.  This is your life.  Your one shot to create the life you want.  Fight for it.  Really fight for it like your life depends upon it because, frankly, it does.

In case you need some inspiration, here’s LL Cool J…

Don’t call it a comeback, I’ve been here for years…

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