Last week, my family and I spent time at the lake, celebrating Independence Day. It was the opportunity to completely disconnect from work for my husband and myself. Our intention of taking a break from work emails and social media is helped by the fact that we have limited cell service and no Wifi in the camper. The first few days are a bit strange because I have moments of brief panic, “where did I leave my phone?!?”. But by day 3, I remember what it’s like to not look at my phone every 30 minutes.
I’m more present.
I’m able to see every “Hey mom, watch this!”
I’m able to wholeheartedly say yes to every “Hey mom, will you play with me?”
I laugh a lot more because I see the kid’s silly antics instead of being lost in thought about the latest email or text.
Being aware and present in life not only keeps you safer, it also enriches your life.
Every time I give a presentation on situational awareness, I talk about the other benefits of being aware of your surroundings. I’ve realized that carrying myself with confidence deters potential attackers AND sets the tone when I walk into a room. Reading body language is great for recognizing when someone is up to no good AND tells me whether my kids are having a good or bad day. Being able to visualize what I would do in different active threat scenarios will prevent me from freezing AND helps me decide on the best form for a perfect cannonball off the end of the dock. I want women to realize they already have all the skills necessary, they simply need to start thinking differently about being present.
I have conversations with women about situational awareness and how it can help them make safer choices as they go about their daily lives. Most of the time, when the discussion starts, they visualize physically fighting an attacker. While learning physical self-defense techniques is important for everyone, I tell them it’s more important to see and understand their environment BEFORE anything happens. It’s driving your car down the road and being aware of the other vehicles. It’s keeping a watchful eye while your kids play in the water to make sure they’re safe.
Situational awareness is the fancy way of saying “being present”. I don’t want women to think it’s some complicated and difficult skill to learn. In fact, most women are better at being more situationally aware than men. It’s just that we’re using it in all the ways that don’t pertain to our safety! Women are intuitive by nature. Women tend to be more empathetic to others and can sense when someone is happy or sad. Women have these skills because traditionally, we’re raised to be caretakers and nurturers. The switch women need to make is realizing these soft skills can also be used when it comes to our personal safety.
When was the last time you sat down and people-watched? When was the last time you left your phone on its charger in the morning and enjoyed your first cup of coffee before checking emails? When was the last time you noticed someone’s cute shoes and told them, “Those shoes are adorable!” Start being more present in your everyday life. It’s a big beautiful world filled with lots of interesting people. If becoming more situationally aware seems too intimidating right now, start with being more present in your daily life. We all have to learn to crawl before we can walk. You got this.
“Nothing is more precious than being in the present moment. Fully alive, fully aware.”
-Thich Nhat Hanh