In life, it’s important to be confident, to be proactive, and to feel capable. Of course, this is a long journey and you shouldn’t have to feel like a titan who can accomplish anything just with a click of your fingers, as that would rob us of our agency and self-determination.
However, it’s also important to note that knowing how to defend yourself in a range of situations is important, and an essential part of self-care. Note that when we say ‘self-defense,’ we don’t mean functioning as a Bruce Lee character, fighting crime or defending against street brawls that happen to come your way. We simply mean that keeping a careful eye on your self-preservation, putting your needs first when that is necessary, and not being afraid to be your strongest self is important, and very empowering.
Self-defense is an essential part of self-care, as it can help you mediate conflict whenever you see it without feeling as though you have to avoid every situation, and even in the situations you do wish to avoid can be identified more readily with this in mind. Without further ado, let’s consider how this can be applied practically, and sensitively. Let’s get started:
Speaking With Confidence
Speaking with confidence is a great way of not only presenting yourself as assertive and capable but feeling it too. Many of us can fall into the trap of feeling insecure in new conversations, and that may lead us to cutting off our own sense of self-worth in an effort to relate to the person in front of us. Unfortunately, they might not always have positive motivations or be the most affable person we could speak to, and this leaves us at a disadvantage.
So, no matter if we’re working in a professional capacity, are undertaking our first date, or are simply expressing our needs to someone who has inconvenienced us, learning to speak with confidence is a real-life skill we can all benefit from practicing and refining. You don’t have to be the coolest person in the world with a quick retort for every situation to speak with confidence.
All it takes is knowing how to relate to people. This means holding eye contact, and standing with good posture so you can breathe more easily. It means not being afraid to inject humor into your conversation, and making sure you represent your true beliefs, sensitively, more than worrying about how someone else will react. This can sound easier said than done to begin with, but if you practice these habits, and take the initiative, momentum builds, and speaking confidently becomes second nature, even if you don’t feel that confident. In this way, you are practicing self-care by representing who you are more readily, and making sure this skill is something you have worked on. You also come across as more assertive, which can help people treat you as if you have authority, even if you don’t. This only compounds your sense of self-worth, which can be healthy if it’s balanced with modesty.
Pausing To Think Before Reacting
One of the founding principles of the school of stoicism is that we cannot choose what happens to us in life, but we can choose how to react to it. As long as we have that potential, we need not worry about being totally overcome.
Again, this can sound easier said than done, because no matter how well we protect ourselves, we cannot defend ourselves against everything in life. However, if you make it a habit to pause to think before reacting, you notice that this becomes something of a practice and a habit that you bolster.
This can really help you avoid getting into situations you may not wish to. It helps you give yourself some time to react before an answer is expected of you. It also helps you take your time and realize that you don’t need to come back with a perfect answer immediately, or force yourself to feel something. With this space, you give yourself some time to be who you are, rather than conforming to an immediate standard. This is also a benefit that many people who practice regular meditation report, as they are less thrown around and swayed by the immediate stimulus of the moment. In that respect, this practice is very healthy.
Knowing Your Rights
It’s important to know your rights and what legal recourse you have in tough situations. This might involve disputes with your boss, conflicts after a road accident, or if dealing with the end of a relationship and the unfortunate fallout that can come from that.
Knowing your rights as well as the legal jargon you can use to become more cognizant of your situation is important. This can be helped by knowing your local terminology such as those in the ARS 13-3401 listings. Knowing your rights can help you dismiss negative claims given by a harmful boss, or how and when to report harassment including how to escalate that.
In some situations, such as when giving a statement to the police when acting as a witness, or answering questions, you will also feel empowered to exercise your full legal ability by requesting a solicitor when appropriate. If you know your rights, you can avoid the effects of being lied to or being taken advantage of, even if that simply means disputing shoddy work undertaken in your home by a local tradesman, or in registering a patent to protect your intellectual property.
Self-Respect Is Felt
Self-respect is important to have in life, and it can be achieved through following a simple formula. First, don’t do things that make you feel weak or unhappy with yourself, no matter if that’s lying, or accepting things you know not to be true, or allowing others to tread on you.
Second, take care of yourself. This means eating well, exercising to the degree that you are able, and trying to make healthy choices regarding your schedule. This way, over time, you define yourself as someone who deserves that extra effort, because you’ve been making it. Even someone who has made a plethora of mistakes in their past is not above enjoying the benefits of self-respect, and its associated impact on feeling able and willing to defend yourself.
A Great Example
It’s good to be inspired, and to take inspiration from those who you believe really deserve it. It might be that focusing on the achievements, successes, and insights of those people in your life who you have always looked up to can be key in helping you emulate them, and perhaps fulfilling that role for someone else, too.
Perhaps your grandmother is an incredibly strong woman, who despite her misfortunes and health issues has never been anything but supportive to her family. Spending time with her and learning from her example could be a great way of wanting to continue that legacy, which in effect gives you that feeling of being able to defend yourself and willing to stand up for you who are.
Of course, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention the physical and practical aspects of learning to defend yourself and your family. We’re not about to suggest you attend martial arts classes each week (even though this can be a great way to exercise and excellent fun), nor that you lift weights every day to become a hugely imposing figure.
Rather, being careful, attentive, and observant is key. This might involve carefully watching people in your life for their actions rather than their words can help you assess just who is worthy to date, who you might trust around your person or your kids, or who you should let into your home.
Furthermore, a few good practices can be helpful. Don’t go anywhere without allowing at least one person to know where you are, just in case. Protect your property with motion-sensitive floodlights and joining neighborhood watch. As you can see, no matter how you implement your daily self-defense measures, what matters is never taking your security and safety for granted. This is tantamount to self-care for obvious reasons and is possibly the most foundational aspect of it. Just because society is relatively civil doesn’t mean we can do without practicing common sense, and knowing that can help you feel more empowered and capable.
Knowing Your Worth
Sometimes, it’s just a good idea to reassert your worth and know what you deserve. For instance, it might be that your partner may not have been listening to you, or treating you with disdain, or perhaps a friend continually seems to denigrate you in front of your other friends. Do you deserve this treatment? Certainly not. But it can be hard to understand that if you’ve let this treatment go on for a while.
For this reason, taking a step back and assessing your circumstances is important. Even if it just means being able to tell your boss ‘no!’ when asked for overtime work for the tenth time this year, feeling able to assert yourself is a great starting point in knowing your worth. When you know it, you begin to subconsciously expect worthwhile treatment from others. And the positive cycle continues.
With this advice, we hope you can understand how self-defense is not always counter to self-care, if practiced healthily and moderated well.