Your lifestyle plays a tremendous role in your personal safety. The good part about this is that your lifestyle is a factor 100% under your control. In this article I am going to take a look at some of the lifestyle choices people make that affect their personal safety, and offer some points of consideration on ways to make good choices that will increase your safety. We will look at two main categories of lifestyle that affect safety; health/fitness and personal choices.
Put simply, eating right and exercising are self defense. Although the point is often overlooked, you are at a greater risk from preventable diseases than you are from a mugger. There is no good reason to not exercise and eat right.
Speaking as a person who spent the better portion of their life not eating right, and is currently paying the price for it, I want people to know that it is very important to make the right choices regarding diet and exercise. For me, the turning point was when I began to have trouble going up the stairs in my home. I often tell people that my weight peaked at 312 lbs., but that ignores the day I stepped on the scale and it read 317 lbs. (I told myself the scale was broken…). I stopped and took a look at how I was living. There were years in my life where if it wasn’t at least six eggs and a half package of bacon, it wasn’t breakfast. Every day I was eating the same lunch; a sandwich they called the “Bacon Ultimate Cheeseburger”. I was having it with a large fries, two tacos, SEVEN cheese-stuffed deep-fried jalapenos and a large sweet tea. That comes out to 5,580 mg of sodium. Just FYI, a fatal dose is 3,000 mg per Kg. My dinners were slightly healthier except for the fact that I was not eating a normal human sized portion. During this stretch of time I was gaining a pound each day. When I realized what I had been doing to myself, I made some pretty drastic changes. My breakfast changed to three eggs and no sides. My gigantic lunch was replaced with a single sandwich from home. And dinner is a single serving, human sized.
I also began to exercise and started much more intensive martial arts training. The weight came off slowly, but I am down to 255 lbs.
I tell this not to pat myself on the back, but to let you know, if you have let yourself go, you can recover. I did it through the only method proven to work – eat less and move more.
Your physical health plays a huge role in your personal safety in more ways than feeling better, as important as physical health is in and of itself.
There are two factors about your health that play a role in personal safety that jump to the front of my mind.
In self defense classes and seminars all over the world, you will find instructors who are unable to get through the defense they are teaching you without huffing and puffing. Set aside the fact that they are also usually teaching very elaborate and excessively intricate defenses against simple attacks; they are also clearly not capable of protecting themselves in the event they need to simply because they do not have the stamina.
Obviously, when speaking of personal safety we seek first to avoid the situations where violence is likely. We do not want to be where the violence is going to take place. But there are possibilities, however remote they may be, where we were unable to avoid it and we must face it. It is at those times that our physical health really becomes a factor. If we are not fighting fit, we are in a much more dangerous situation.
Projection of Confidence
There have been different studies that have shown slightly different levels of importance regarding the level of confidence a person projects and the way predators select victims. But in all of the studies I have been able to find, it does matter. If a person can project health, confidence and alertness, many times the predator human will keep looking for a different target. They are looking for a resource, not a fight.
Often, as I make this point in face to face classes, I am told that it is easy for me to say this because of my size. I stand six and-a-half feet tall. Almost no one is going to select me as a target in most cases (the exception being a drunk who has decided he can take me). I have to respond that the studies show that how you carry yourself really is a factor in whether or not you are selected as a target.
Keep in mind that I am speaking of quiet and unassuming confidence, not cockiness. Arrogance will be seen as a challenge by some who could well decide to take you down a few pegs.
Actually having the ability to back up your projected confidence is also likely something that predators can pick up on. We often forget just how much is communicated non-verbally.
The other aspect of lifestyle that affects our personal safety is the choices we make regarding where and with whom to spend our time.
Although often decried as Victim Blaming, this is certainly not the case. As one who is constantly teaching the lost concept of personal responsibility, I assure you that victim blaming and personal responsibility are not even related. Don’t believe the hype.
If you are someone who is interested in increasing personal safety, then it is important to take certain steps.
Alcohol makes people stupid.
You impair your own judgement and reflexes when you are under the influence. People tend to think that alcohol makes people mellow, and there are some people that this is true for, but by and large it is only going to be true up to a certain amount of alcohol, and after that things get a little less certain. And even if alcohol makes you mellow, what about the other people in the bar or at the party? How sure are you that they will not go nuts? Are you willing to bet your personal safety on it?
Bad things happen at places where large amounts of alcohol are being consumed. If you want to increase personal safety, avoid these places.
If you are truly interested in personal safety, then you need to also consider the people with whom you choose to spend your time.
If you spend your time hanging out with criminals, you are going to be less safe than if you made a different choice. If you spend your time around violent people, violence will be a part of your life by default.
I have been told that this position I present amounts to telling people to judge others.
Every single person judges people every day. When you choose to keep a person as a friend, you are passing a judgement on them just as surely as if you choose to no longer keep them in your life.
I wish to make clear that I am looking at this from the standpoint of personal safety. There are activist groups that go out of their way to be offended by the thought that a person can take responsibility for their life and be safer as a result. I remind you, the world we live in is the one we must prepare ourselves for, not the utopia of the imagination. It would be wonderful if we could simply generate a world without crime through telling bad people to not do bad things, but that is a fantasy. There is a story often told in the Chinese martial arts of a scorpion who asked a frog to give him a ride across the river. The frog said, “No way! You will sting me and I will drown.” The scorpion replied, “I give my word, I will not.” So the frog agreed. When they arrived at the far shore, the scorpion stung the frog. As the frog was sinking beneath the water, dying, he said, “You said you would not sting me.” The scorpion replied, “I am a scorpion. It is my nature to sting.”
There are bad people who do bad things. You have to prepare yourself for that fact and not invent a fantasy where they will stop being bad.