The connection between self defense, personal empowerment, and living the life you want to live overlaps a great deal more than you’d think at first glance. That’s because self defense doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It’s not something you do in a scary parking garage and nowhere else. It’s part of your daily life.
I don’t mean that in a paranoid way, like expecting the sky to drop on your head every time you walk outside. I mean that in the sense of taking control of your life. When you’re in control of your life, it’s much much harder for you to become a victim – of anyone: the con artist, the abusive boyfriend, the random mugger.
So in a very real sense, self defense is the stuff you do – the things you think, the words you say, the actions you take – to defend the life you want to live.
When I talk about self defense, especially with women, one of the first things I often have to do is convince them that they should take charge of their own personal safety. I call this my “Be your own hero” speech. I don’t think it’s a smart idea to depend entirely on things outside yourself for your personal safety, whether that thing is a lock on the door, a large dog, a kickboxing boyfriend, or a Glock.
In the end, it’s going to come down to you: to suss out the con, to leave the abusive boyfriend, to survive the mugger. You may as well start now.
But I mean this in a bigger way, too: I mean this in the way of being the hero of your own life. I had a conversation with a good friend of mine a couple of months ago, where we talked about the fiction we both write. I said I had just learned, from hanging out on blogs, that there are readers who don’t identify with kick-ass female heroes because they can’t even imagine what that would be like.
This was a really depressing realization on my part, following as it did a colleague’s desperate plea for me to write more books about personal empowerment because “this generation of college students needs it more than ever.” Which I took to mean that even after all this time, we haven’t made much progress in convincing women to be in charge of their own lives.
I know how easy it is to think that something outside yourself is the thing you need to make your life work, to make yourself happy, to get whatever it is you’re trying to get. I’ve done this myself: If Mr. X hires me for the job, I’ll have the perfect life! If Ms. Y acquires my book, my career will be set.
Certainly workers need jobs, and writers need book sales, but in both cases the focus is on the wrong end of the equation, the part that you (or I ) can’t control.
What would being your own hero look like?
My new book: Simple Self Defense