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Shifting Perspectives

Shifting Perspectives

I love to read. This habit has helped me gain tons of knowledge on how to hone my situational awareness skills. One thing I realized, are the skills that help keep me safe, are the same skills I use in business.

How are they the same? Consider these specific skills for a moment. In business, being able to communicate my thoughts effectively, read body language to understand non-verbals, and being able to adapt and respond to changing dynamics of a situation, are the keys to success.

If I can show you how to use skills you already have, in a way that improves your personal safety, it greatly shortens your learning curve. You can make small changes in your daily habits that will have great impact immediately. I want to help you see these skills from a different perspective, so you have the confidence to live life on your terms.

Not only are the skills universal, the warning behaviors that signal something is wrong, are universal in personal and professional relationships.

Consider this sequence of events:

  • Evaluating you as their target
  • Testing your boundaries
  • Learning your vulnerabilities
  • Gaining your trust
  • Slowing manipulating the relationship to gain control
  • Gaslighting your concerns to disguise their intent
  • Denying your evidence of wrongdoing to avoid personal responsibility

Which leaves the following options:

  • They end the relationship suddenly to avoid persecution

And/or

  • You are forced to walk away with nothing to escape the toxic relationship

From your perspective, what am I describing?

  • An intimate personal relationship?
  • A friendship?
  • A business partnership?
  • A co-worker relationship?

The reality is, I could be describing the patterns of toxic behaviors in any of those relationships.

Society is set up to recognize abuse in silos. Being abused greatly impacts our mental and physical health, and healing can take months, even years. Depending on the relationship of the people involved, the warning signs they are taught to look for come from that silo’s tunnel vision. In my opinion, advocates get so specialized in their silo, they can’t help survivors learn to recognize similar behavior patterns in other areas of their life.

When someone is a survivor of domestic abuse, in hindsight, they may see the early behavior warning signs from that relationship.  Advocates and therapists will help them do the work to make sure they don’t find themselves in another abusive relationship. But if they are only looking through the lens of an intimate relationship, they may not recognize abusive behaviors in a professional work environment.

Who will teach them to recognize early signs of dominant behavior in the workplace? If their knowledge of warning signs only pertains to intimate partners, they may miss the warning signs of dominant behavior in a new boss. The submissive responses they created as a coping mechanism to survive, may start happening subconsciously with how they respond to the boss.

What do I mean?

One aspect of the Violence Dynamics training that had a great impact on me is the focus on building principal-based, physical self-defense skills. The instructors preach that if you focus solely on learning technical skills, when you are facing a real and potentially violent threat, technical skills may go out the window and do you no good.

Real predators, intent on causing you harm, are not reading from a Hollywood script.

(Predator is found lurking in the dark shadows of the alley, waiting for the victim to appear, while ominous music plays)

Predator: Hey Victim, I’m going to throw a right hook, followed by a shoulder grab, pulling your chest to my upward thrusting knee. Got it?

Victim: Okay. I’m going to dodge your right hook by leaning back slightly and to the left, which also puts my shoulders out of your reach, while I send a left jab to your kidney.

AND ACTION!

Real violence is scrappy. There are no rules and predators fight dirty. If you think having perfect technical skills are the end all, be all to your self-defense training, I recommend reading “Facing Violence” by Rory Miller.

What does my segue story have to do with how patterns of toxic behavior are siloed? If society is only teaching the technical skills of recognizing toxic behavior through a silo’d lens, based on the relationship between the individuals involved, we are failing. Dominating behavior is dominating behavior. Gaslighting is the same coming from a partner or a boss.

There needs to be a change on how we educate society on recognizing warning behaviors in other human beings. We need to stop creating silos of knowledge based on the relationship label we attach to the individuals involved.

It’s much easier to dismiss what your intuition is telling you because the person exhibiting the warning signs and toxic behaviors is your co-worker, not your friend/partner. Just because it’s your boss that demeans you and constantly says your work is shit, doesn’t mean it’s not abusive behaviors.

Whether your intuition alarm bells go off from your significant other, your new business partner, or that creepy co-worker, focus on their behaviors, not who that person is to you.

“I can’t control your behaviors; nor do I want that burden…but I will not apologize for refusing to be disrespected, to be lied to, or to be mistreated. I have standards; step up or step out.

-Steve  Maraboli

 

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

Basic Vehicle Safety

Basic Vehicle Safety

Growing up, my dad passed along his love for cars to me. For my 16th birthday, he bought me my first car. A 1:18 scale diecast model of a ’57 Corvette Stingray (very funny dad).

Every Christmas since then, my gift from him is the duPont REGISTRY Holiday Edition of Fine Cars. When I was younger, I would study it and try to decide which car I wanted to buy. The downside to this daydreaming was I thought a $50k car was cheap. Spoiler alert, it’s not.

My childhood was also before kids had electronic distractions. In order to keep my siblings and I from fighting in the back seat, he would have us play “guess the make and model” of the cars around us. This game was especially tricky at night when all you could see for clues were headlights or taillights.

All of this fueled (pun intended) my love for cars. I wanted to know everything about them. How to check fluid levels, change the oil or a flat tire. How to control my actual first car, an ’80 Caprice Classic with rear-wheel drive, on icy roads. I love roadtrips and have done quite a few 12-14-hour drives. When an opportunity to ride 180 mph around the Charlotte Speedway with the Richard Petty Driving Experience presented itself, I was all in.

This passion for vehicles made me comfortable in and around all vehicles. That confidence helped thwart quite a few service technicians who were eager to tell me all the things that needed fixing on my vehicle, even though I was only in for an oil change.

My company, The Diamond Arrow Group, is all about helping women gain confidence to live life on their own terms. Helping women learn and understand how their vehicles play a role in their personal safety is an important piece of the puzzle. According to AAA’s American Driving Survey, 2014-2017:

“On average, drivers spent 51 minutes driving approximately 31.5 miles each day, making an average of 2.2 driving trips. Nationwide, drivers made 183 billion trips, driving 2.6 trillion miles, in 2016 and 2017. In 2016-2017, all driving metrics increased when comparing statistics with the previous period measured, 2014-2015.”

Americans have increased the average minutes spent driving per day by 6.3% since 2014-2015! Incorporating vehicle safety with our personal safety skills is important. Here are 5 key things to start practicing today.

  • Verify that pushing the unlock button on your key fob once, only unlocks the driver’s door.
    • If your key fob is not set up this way, grab the owner’s manual and change it or ask your trusted service technician to do it for you.
  • Every time you get in a vehicle, make sure all the mirrors are adjusted for the best sight lines with you in the driver’s seat.
  • Once you and any passengers are inside the vehicle, lock the doors.
    • I can’t stress this enough. Any time you are in your vehicle, make sure the doors are locked!
  • Before putting the vehicle in drive, make any adjustments to the radio, plug your phone into the charger, connect to bluetooth, start any driving directions, choose your heat or cooling settings, and buckle up.
  • Pay attention while driving.
    • Converting miles per hour to miles per feet, if you are going 60mph and take your eyes off the road for 3 seconds, you drove 270 feet blind. That’s almost the length of the playing field in football!
    • In 2018 there were 2,841 people killed and an estimated additional 400,000 people injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. (NHTSA Summary of Statistical Findings, April 2020)

These are simple daily habits you can start practicing today. After a short period of time, they will become automatic and you won’t have to consciously think about doing them, you just will. As with all changes you make to improve your life, even the smallest things done repeatedly with intention, can have a huge impact.

For more tips on how to incorporate vehicle safety with your personal safety, make sure to get on the DAG VIP list by signing up here.

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

Facing the New, New Normal

Facing the New, New Normal

In the first month of self-isolation during the Covid-19 pandemic, I heard myself say, “I can’t wait to go back to normal!”. In the second month, I realized I had no idea what “normal” even was anymore. As I start the third month, with businesses gradually opening up, it’s been so long since I’ve lived my “normal” daily routine, I’m anxious about facing the change again.

Perhaps you’ve heard that it takes an average of 21 days to form a new habit. That idea comes from a book, “Psycho-Cybernetics” published in 1960 by Dr. Maxwell Maltz. In 2009, a new study showed it actually takes an average of 66 days for a new behavior to become automatic.

It got me thinking-if I start from March 13th (which is the day it started for us), and count the days until today, I get the magic number 58. In our state (MN), the Governor has issued a stay-at-home order until May 18th. If everything opened on May 18th, the number of days we’ve been in self-isolation is 61. So, if you consider the study I mentioned above, we will be just 5 days shy of the 66 days it takes for new behaviors to become automatic.

My next thought was, “Great-I’ve finally gotten to a certain level of comfort with my self-isolation routine and now I’m going to go through the discomfort of figuring out my new normal post-pandemic!”

Ugh.

What will the new normal after Covid-19 look like and how will it affect your personal safety? You will have to establish new baselines in the establishments you patronize, you will need to adjust your readings of body language, and you will need to establish new boundaries for yourself and your loved ones.

Let’s talk about the first item, establishing new baselines. A baseline is what you would normally expect to observe in your environment. For example, the baseline of a coffee shop may be the smell of fresh brewed coffee, a low-level of sound as people are working quietly, and looking around, you would see tables of people reading, working on their laptops, or talking in small groups. What is the new baseline going to look like post-pandemic? For coffee shops, probably not a whole lot of difference. The tables may be more spread out with less available seating. If there are groups of two or more people, some of those people might be wearing masks. Be curious about whatever environment you’re in to establish the new baseline, so you can easily spot the anomaly or something that doesn’t fit.

The second item, adjusting your readings of body language. It makes me think of a funny meme I saw the other day:

 

Before Covid-19, it was very unusual to see people covering their faces with masks, unless they were concealing their identity while committing a crime. Now, a lot of people are wearing masks as well as the criminals. Being able to read body language, is more important than ever. What are they doing with their hands? Does the individual keep touching their pocket or reaching their arm around to their lower back? Those are signs that the individual could be concealing something. Maybe they just stole an item and they want to make sure it hasn’t fallen out of the hiding spot, or maybe they have a weapon and they keep touching it to make sure it’s easily accessible. If you weren’t a people-watcher before Covid-19, consider this your opportunity to start a new hobby.

Lastly, what will your new physical and emotional boundaries be and how will you enforce them? If you are a hugger like me, I need to consider that it may not be as socially acceptable. Even handshakes may be something that will only be allowed after vigorous use of hand-sanitizer. If your personal bubble was 2’ before Covid-19, it has probably increased to 6’. If there’s someone else bagging fresh avocados in the produce area and you have the ingredients for guacamole on your shopping list, you’ll probably wait patiently for the other person to be finished before picking and bagging your avocados. Decide what you are comfortable with BEFORE you go back out after all the stores re-open. Run through mental scenarios on how you will enforce those boundaries and what you will do if a boundary is crossed.

Setting your emotional boundaries will be crucial to your mental health as you re-enter your community. When I first went into self-isolation back in March, I crashed hard emotionally in week 2. I was overwhelmed with having my two kids home with me, I was sad to watch my business stall, and the confusion of information changing daily was unsettling. I continued to try and spread positivity, but my emotional tank was empty, and I was hurting myself trying to give something I didn’t have. As businesses and individuals adjust to re-opening protocols, give yourself plenty of space to decide what you’re comfortable with. If you’re not sure about going back to eating inside restaurants or attending a gathering of more than 10 people, don’t let others force you or make you feel bad about your decisions. Do what is best for you and decide how you will respond to invites. On the flip side, refrain from passing judgement or shaming those who are the first through the door of their favorite restaurant.

As you look forward and contemplate your new normal, take the time to listen to your intuition, and make decisions based on what’s best for you and your loved ones. You got this.

 “We don’t grow when things are easy. We grow when we face challenges.”

-Unknown