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Who Do You Trust?

Who Do You Trust?

A couple of months ago, a friend asked me if I trust everyone from the start, or if I trust no one until they’ve earned it. My gut response was I trust everyone. I believe most people are inherently good and if you start the relationship on a positive note, it gives the opportunity to create a better foundation.

Her response was she trusted no one until they proved they were trustworthy. It was an interesting conversation starter, but we were both tired from training that day and simply left the conversation with those two viewpoints.

Now, weeks later, I find myself wondering if I truly trust everyone when I first interact with them. I strive to remain curious in my daily life, and that includes questioning if what I believe is something I truly believe, or if it’s been programmed in my head from some social construct.

Do I really trust every new person I meet? What exactly does it mean to trust someone? Are there varying degrees of trust?

After pondering these questions and testing them against my initial response to her, I found that it’s not so much that I trust other people, it’s that I trust my intuition in evaluating others.

Humans, especially women, have unbelievable intuition skills. Women have been traditionally raised to be the caretakers. To be good caretakers, we need to be empathetic. To have empathy for another person, you need to be able to really hear and see and feel what they’re saying. It’s not always what a person is saying, it’s how they are saying it. Reading the other person’s non-verbals are just as important as actively listening to what they are saying. I once heard a speaker describe it as “the audio matching the video”.

Does the person say they’re happy and content with a sad face and droopy shoulders?  If that’s the case, I don’t believe what they’re saying. It takes a lot more effort to fake body language than to fake the words coming out of their mouth.

From a personal safety perspective, it is vital for women to be able to read a potential attacker’s true intentions. The quote by Margaret Atwood, “Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them” comes to mind. To me, that statement seems extreme. Have I really walked around my whole life, wondering if every man that crosses my path might kill me?

Yes, I’ve interacted with male strangers that made me leery of their presence. Something about their body language told me they had the potential to cause me harm and I needed to pay extra attention to them and their proximity to me. But most of the time, they were strangers in a public setting. In that instance, I did not give them the benefit of trust. In fact, it was more in line with my friend’s response of “I trust no one”. So, did that mean I don’t actually trust everyone from the start?

That’s where I decided to dig deeper.

I don’t walk around in paranoia, fearful that every stranger wants to kill me. I don’t walk around paranoid period.

I’m alert and aware of the energy of a place and the people in it. I establish a baseline of what I would normally expect to see, hear, smell in the situation, and then I pay attention to anything or anyone that doesn’t fit that expectation.

I watch for anomalies.

If no one appears to be outside the baselines I’ve established, then I trust that they have no ill intent planned and mean me no harm. That falls in line with trusting strangers.

If I see someone behaving outside my baselines, my trust that their intentions are good, decreases. My intuition tells me I need to pay attention to them to gather further information. Even though my trust in them decreases, they could still have good intentions and mean me no harm. I do trust my intuition telling me to watch them and their actions. There’s still a level of trust there. I trust that their body language is projecting their true intentions. I trust that they do mean to cause harm or disruption of some sort. In essence, I do trust them, it’s just not in the harmless sense.

Learning to listen to your intuition and understand what it’s trying to tell you is essential in building your self-confidence. To move forward and live life the way you want, you need to trust yourself first and foremost. It starts with building trust in your intuition. As with most things in life, you have to start with what you have control over-you. By trusting that your intuition has your best interest in mind and the signals of intuition are always in response to something, whether you consciously or sub-consciously recognize the signals, you will build self-confidence in your ability to make smart decisions to keep yourself safe.

“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”

-Rumi

Unchartered Waters

Unchartered Waters

This Thanksgiving week looks different.

I toggle between being grateful for the things in my life that haven’t changed in the pandemic (home, family, friends) and frustrated by the things that 2020 has destroyed.

Yes, destroyed is a strong word, and that is exactly what I mean. I don’t need to list my frustrations because we’re all in a place we didn’t expect to be at the beginning of this year. It’s not necessary to compare ourselves to others in order to say, “I’ve had it worse” or “I guess I don’t have it as bad as the other person”. My pile of poo may be different than your pile of poo, but we both have a pile of poo to deal with.

I’ll refrain from pretending this is article is motivational, all shiny and happy, and simply share what I’m focusing on right now. The three words I live by are: Bold, Curious, Kind. Throughout 2020, how I applied those words changed. Considering we are under constant change right now, it’s good to be fluid.

Bold.

An author I follow posted a status over the weekend that smacked me upside the head. To paraphrase her post, 2020 has been a year of “wait, what?” so why not make some ridiculous goals and crazy plans? WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO LOSE?

Absolutely nothing.

I could hunker down and play it safe with my goals for next year, or I could be bold and put out to the universe that I’m not going to play small. What big, hairy, audacious goal (or goals) can you set?

Curious.

As humans, we can be selfish. “It’s all about me! My life sucks! I have it so hard!” I’m not here to tell you you’re wrong. Your perspective is your truth, and back to my earlier comment, we all have our own pile of poo.

I could either stare at my pile of poo and complain about its size and smell, or I could stop having tunnel vision and be curious about what’s in my peripheral view. What areas of your life could you focus your curiosity on instead of having tunnel vision on your pile of poo? What’s something you’ve always wanted to explore, but never focused on before?

Kind.

So. Much. Hurt.

I’m hurting. I see others hurting. I see people hurting each other. There’s a lot of people walking around without noses because they’ve cut it off to spite their face. Figuratively speaking of course.

It’s dumb.

The biggest lesson 2020 has taught me is I can only control myself. I know, I know- that mantra has been around for a long time, but 2020 FORCED me to feel it in my bones. You can rah, rah, rah at me all day long like a motivational speaker from stage, but when you’re done talking, my response is “that’s cool, but I’m gonna go back to trying to control everything because that neural pathway is firmly established”.

I could continue on my path of insanity (you know, doing the same thing and expecting a different result), or I could start being kind to myself. Focusing on myself may seem hypocritical of my early comment mentioning how humans are selfish, but it’s not.

In the past, I’ve only thought of kindness as it relates to the way I treat others. Through my work with #500rising training and surrounding myself with amazing humans at Violence Dynamics, who I’ve let myself be raw and vulnerable with (like legit ugly cry in public-not my usual M.O.), I’ve realized the person who needs the most kindness right now is me. What can you do to be kind to yourself today?

The upcoming weeks and even months look differently for DAG. I’m having to let go of a lot of things and with that comes some grief. It feels like loss. I wish I could tell you what it will look like on the other side, or even when I will get to the other side, but I can’t. That would be my old neural pathways of trying to control everything and I’m currently destroying those old habits. (maybe I CAN learn new tricks! ?)

I don’t know what the future holds for me or DAG, but what I know is I’m going to be Bold, Curious, and Kind.

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

-Mary Oliver

Victim Selection

Victim Selection

Most of us go about our daily lives NOT thinking about being attacked. Sometimes it’s simply because we don’t have the mental capacity to think beyond the task in front of us. Other times, it’s because we have a false sense of security. The mentality of “it won’t happen to me” or “I live in a safe part of town” or “no one would target me for sex trafficking because I’m older”.

Here’s the thing- no one wakes up thinking, “I’m going to be a victim today”.

The definition of “victim” is: a person harmed, injured, or killed as a result of a crime, accident, or other event or action.

We’ve all practiced fire drills since we were kids. Most of society knows what to do if they smell gas in a building. There are checklists and guidebooks on how to survive natural disasters. Those survival skills are taught early on and normalized so it’s not fear mongering.

In our society, tragedy sells. Headlines are created to attract clicks and downloads. To talk about an attack after it happens, and then arm-chair quarterback all the things the victim should have done differently, only serves to discount the traumatic event experienced by the victim. It also helps us separate ourselves from the fact that it could happen to us.

What we need to do is study why the attacker chose the victim and the methods used to gain access to the victim, to commit a crime.

How victims are chosen:

  1. Being distracted

First, there is no such thing as 24/7 perfect situational awareness. Have you ever driven from point A to point B, and upon reaching your destination, realized you don’t remember parts of the drive? We’ve all done it! If you’re going to continue reading this article, let go of perfection. It’s about getting better every day, not becoming an awareness master overnight.

When you’re going from one place to the next, whether that’s walking or driving, refrain from using electronic devices that will distract you. I’m not saying you should NEVER send a text or answer a call when you’re walking down the street- because well, life happens. What I’m saying is work on waiting to use your phone until you’re safe to do so. In reality, there are very few people whose response time means the difference between life and death for another person.

  1. Perception of weakness, weaker than the attacker

An attacker chooses their victim. It’s the 7-second rule of first impressions, but with a criminal undertone. We have all heard about the importance of making a good first impression in meeting new friends, potential future in-laws, and in the business world. The same can be said about making a first impression on a potential attacker.

How you walk down the street, how you walk in to the room, and how you carry yourself as you go about your normal life, sends a message to any predator looking for their next victim. Projecting strength isn’t only a physical attribute. Have you ever heard someone described as, “she’s so sweet and 100 lbs. soaking wet, but I wouldn’t want to be on her bad side!” Projecting strength is also a mindset.

  1. Overtly nice, submissive

Depending on the crime the predator plans to commit, they may test your boundaries not only physically (seeing how close they can get to you before you say something-COVID19 and social distancing is a great tool to deploy in that scenario), but verbally.

“Hey pretty lady, what are we doing tonight?” (I just met you, there is no “we”.)

“You’re right, the likes of you would never talk to someone like me.” (after you’ve told them you’re not interested in further conversation)

“I see you’re a fan of that author too, I bet we have a lot in common!” (when you are simply trying to enjoy a quiet moment reading)

I get it ladies, we have been raised to be kind, to be nice, not to judge others, and all the other caring traits reinforced since childhood. What has helped me deal with this, is to separate their actions from them as a person. I heard the term, “manipulating kindness” in this Crimes Against Women podcast episode and it helped me recognize the tactic and handle it accordingly. It’s not rude to want to be left alone.

How NOT to appear like a target:

  1. Head up, scanning your surroundings in a relaxed, curious way

In my classes, I let everyone know they may find themselves feeling hyper-aware, almost to the point of paranoia, immediately after class. Going back to what I mentioned earlier, there is no such thing as perfect situational awareness. If you are so worried you’re going to miss noticing an anomaly, the true messenger of intuition telling you something is off, won’t be able to get through the noise in your head.

Stay alert by being curious about your environment. Practice your observational skills by picking one descriptive thing about each person in the room. Listen to your environment and pick out five distinct sounds. Does the environment have a particular smell? Is it what you would expect to smell (roasted coffee in a coffee shop, grease and oil at the mechanics garage)? The bonus to implementing these habits is you will be more present and mindful throughout your day.

  1. Stay off devices

Our electronic devices have robbed us of our creativity. Do you remember long car trips that didn’t involve screen time? You had to read a book, write in a journal, or stare out the window at the scenery. When was the last time you were bored, and let yourself be bored?  I’m guilty of going on Pinterest as a distraction when I’m bored. It’s a tough habit to break!

Create perimeters around your device usage. When you’re walking from your car to a store/your home/work, commit to keeping your device in your purse or pocket. When you arrive at your destination early, spend time making observations of your surroundings. Where are all the exits? Where are the restrooms?  The next time you are using a ride-share service or public transportation, sit quietly and mentally go through “what if” scenarios.

  1. Create a mental plan bank of ideas

What would you do if someone knocked on your door at home, when you weren’t expecting anyone? What would you do if you were shopping with your kids and someone was following you? What will you say if that co-worker casually video calls you to gossip, when you’ve got so much work to do? How will you respond if that friend of a friend continues to show up at your door unannounced because, “they were in the neighborhood”?

Unfortunately, women are attacked every day. Most of the time it’s by someone they know, from acquaintances to someone very close to them. Having a mental plan bank of what you would do in different scenarios BEFORE you find yourself in those situations, will help you stay safe. You do not want the first time you’re deciding on your boundaries, to be the moment someone is trying to cross those boundaries.

Just like practicing fire drills and learning about disaster preparedness, learning how to use all your senses and intuition to avoid a potentially dangerous situation, does not increase the likelihood of something happening to you.

You already have all the life skills needed to be situationally aware, I guarantee it. What I teach through The Diamond Arrow Group is how to look at those skills in a new way, to keep yourself and loved ones safer. It’s about perspective and mindset. Commit to having the mindset that your life matters. Your safety is your priority, and you deserve to live life on your own terms.

Own your space in this world.  Live life with abundance and joy. Be bold, be curious, and be kind. You got this.

“What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

-Mary Oliver

Actionable Confidence

Actionable Confidence

Gaining confidence in yourself and your abilities is not something you can manifest through positive thinking. You have to DO. You have to reach beyond your comfortable routine and try something new. It doesn’t have to be a grandiose move, a giant step or leap into uncertainty, sometimes it’s doing something you’ve never done before in a small way.

 “When we stay in our comfort zone protected from these experiences by the familiarity of routine activities, we live life unaware of our ability to grow and develop new strengths and skills.  The less we experience opportunities for mistakes and failure the more scared we become of what could happen if we were to step outside of our comfort zone.”

-Courtney E. Ackerman, MSc.

I watched Carol Sankar’s Tedx Talk, “The Confidence Factor” the other week. One of the many things I took away from the talk was her line, “Confidence is an applied science, not a learned science”.

You need to take a step and DO something to gain confidence. Here are 5 steps to building actionable confidence.

  • Pick A Goal – What is something you’ve always wanted to do? It doesn’t matter if it’s work related or a personal goal, it only needs to be a goal you haven’t reached before.
  • One Thing – Now that you have your goal in mind, what is ONE THING you can do today to move towards the goal? Keep in mind, it doesn’t have to be a big action, it only needs to be forward motion.
  • Do It – Stop overthinking it and do it! You picked a task that you could accomplish today so stop procrastinating and get it done.
  • Kudos To You! – You crossed that task off your to-do list, congratulations! Take a few moments to celebrate and acknowledge you did something new. Recognizing the action of growth also helps build your resiliency. You can try new things and be successful!
  • Next Up – Rinse and repeat. What ONE THING can you do tomorrow to keep forward momentum towards your goal?

You can sit and dream all day and night about something you want to accomplish, but if you don’t take action, your dream will never come to fruition.

Take Action

Is there something you’ve been wanting to do for a long time, but it hasn’t happened yet? Take a moment right now to ask yourself why. Be honest with yourself and don’t slip in to feeling bad about what you discover. Gaining confidence is a process that happens through constant movement forward. You got this.

“Courage is relaxed by delay”

-Aldrude

So, What Now?

So, What Now?

You may or may not have noticed, I missed the last blog email. I’m not even sure I can use the word “missed”. I didn’t forget I had a blog to write, I simply couldn’t focus the energy on sitting down to write it. I’m guessing you may be chuckling to yourself right now, saying,

“Yea, I hear you Kelly. I’ve struggled to focus energies on doing things I used to do too”.

Today marks exactly one month since my kids’ school sent home suggested learning objectives on a Friday in case there wouldn’t be school the following week. It was one month ago that we walked to a neighbor’s house so the kids could play together outside, while the other mom and I talked. I remember us not being overly concerned about what a potential Covid19 response would be in our area. Maybe the school district would close for a week or two. Maybe we would be forced to take a mini staycation. That wouldn’t be so bad, would it?

That Sunday night, we received the pre-recorded phone call letting us know that schools would be closing for the next two weeks due to Covid19 and to help teachers prepare for online learning. That was the start of life as I knew it, being completely flipped on its head.

Monday brought the flurry of emails canceling situational awareness presentations and day-long trainings. Only four days earlier, I had looked at the month ahead and felt excitement for all the opportunities to help people see skills they already possessed, in a new way. To help each of them feel more confident in their ability to keep themselves and their loved ones safe. I felt like my company was finally turning a corner and gaining momentum. At the beginning of the year, I had participated in a vision board workshop and 2020 was going to be the year of growth. My word for the year was “mighty”.

Watching that momentum disappear in a matter of hours didn’t make me feel very mighty.

I’m guessing you probably have a similar story about how the pandemic shutdown affected you.

Loss. Uncertainty. Anger. Frustration. Helplessness.

Those first two weeks of shutdown were a rollercoaster of emotions for me. When my calendar reminder popped up to tell me that I had a blog to write, I dismissed it. What the hell was I going to write about when most people were stuck at home? I didn’t want to pretend that nothing was different in the world. I didn’t want to put on a fake smile and act as if my life was humming along as usual. I also wasn’t mentally in a place to process what I was going through.

Every day brought new information, new protocols, new restrictions, new challenges. I needed every ounce of energy focused on my family and establishing a new routine so my kids could feel safe and secure. I needed to figure out how to let the fires of DAG go down to hot embers without letting them go completely out. I needed to figure out how to support my husband, who is upper administration in law enforcement, while he was trying to figure out how to keep the officers safe and healthy, so they could keep citizens safe. Because a lot of those citizens were now on the front lines. Keeping grocery shelves stocked, figuring out how to reorganize the healthcare system to prepare for a potential spike in Covid19 cases, driving thousands of miles to keep the supply chain going with the increased demand for goods, and small business owners desperately trying to shift their model over night in order to save their livelihoods.

Everyone was affected.  It was overwhelming.

I realized the airplane passenger safety briefing applied now more than ever. Put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others.

I had to figure out how to take care of myself so I could help take care of others. Suddenly, my own words on how to become more situationally aware had another parallel in my life.

When I made that mental switch, I wasn’t back to the full strength, kickass Kelly overnight. I had to set up small, daily habits and commit to doing them every day.

I made a list of 5 things I would do every morning to help me get in a better head space.

  • Read my daily, faith-based message
  • Write down 5 things I was grateful for
  • Look at my vision board
  • Choose 1 thing I would accomplish for the day
  • Spend 7 minutes meditating

These were all things that were simple for me. They didn’t take a lot of time. Which is very important right now with 8 and 7-year-old boys’ home with me every day (did I mention EVERY DAY?!).

My mental health improved, and the emotional rollercoaster went from Six Flags level down to County Fair level.

When you start focusing on your personal safety skills, it’s important to start with small daily habits and commit to doing them. It’s not about only looking for a threat. It’s about being curious about your environment and noticing the things in it.

Pick ONE THING to look for today. Maybe it’s noticing all the different animals in your yard (squirrels, birds, rabbits, deer, fox, etc.) It doesn’t matter if you live in the city or in the country.  Tomorrow, pick something new to look for. Maybe it’s going for a walk and doing the Heart Hunters challenge (a Facebook group now over 800k members strong).

I wish I could tell you when the self-isolation recommendations will be lifted. I wish I could tell you what your life and daily routine will look like when all businesses can open back up.

It’s just like I wish I could tell you exactly what to look for to prevent you from ever being attacked. It’s how I wish I could tell you exactly which self-defense tool to carry with you at all times.

I can’t. I can’t see into the future. No one can.

Anyone who tells you exactly who or what to look for, or exactly what tool to carry in order to stay safe, is full of shit.

Right now, I simply want you to do whatever you need to do, to stay healthy and to stay safe.

Take care of yourself. Do whatever it is that you need to do, to take care of your loved ones. Don’t let someone else dictate how you should act right now. Give yourself grace and remember that you will get through this.

“Life doesn’t get easier or more forgiving, we get stronger and more resilient.”

-Steve Maraboli