We're Worth Defending

Thursday, March 24, 2016 4 Comments A+ a-

Hey, guys! Welcome back to the Cafe! I'm feeling a little out of breath...the last couple of weeks have had me on my toes. I joked with my hubby yesterday that even our to-do lists have to-do lists. He laughed because he knows exactly how I feel. We've both been struggling to keep up.

But we took time out last weekend for some amazing self-defense training. A friend of mine from school, Trina Pellegrini, travels all over the world and teaches TRU seminars (that's Trained-Ready-Unafraid). They're based on the discipline of Combat Hapkido. I took one last year and loved it, so I went back this year for a refresher course. Mine was for women, but she pulled together one for men's training as well, and hubby wanted in on the action, lol.

Check him out:
Hubs (on the left) learning how to
fend off a knife attack at
Galesburg Academy of Martial Arts.

Cool, eh? Yeah, I'm married to a badass now. :)

There are a lot of reasons I'm interested in learning self-defense. I'm small. I'm naturally quiet and introverted. I struggle with self-confidence. Predators seem to hone in on those qualities, and because of this, I've been the victim of abusive relationships. Yes, that's plural. And for many, many years, I thought it was my fault. I'm just now starting to learn that it's not.

You might be wondering how this relates to the world of INFJs. Well, take another peek at my reasons. Quiet. Introverted. Struggling with self-confidence. Guys, these are hallmark qualities of an INFJ. Our focus is inward, and we have incredibly high standards for ourselves. We worry about what others think of us. We're always trying to improve. Calling us perfectionists is kind of an understatement. If ninety-nine people tell us we're awesome and one person says we're not, which statement do you think we'll take to heart?

I envy people with a lot of outward confidence. You know the ones--those witty, charismatic folks who are comfortable with being the center of attention. People who put themselves "out there" and end up with lots of cool stories that inspire loyal groupies to follow them around and haunt them on social media. They are the "E" in extravert, and the world loves them. Sometimes, it feels like my quiet, intuitive INFJ mystery pales in comparison...like I'm that quiet lady people don't hesitate to take advantage of because I'm always shrinking into the background.

But you know what? That's not true. You can be quiet and confident. You can be inwardly focused and still aware of what's going on around you. You can accept those ninety-nine awesome compliments and kick that annoying criticism to the curb.

How do I know this? I had a weird thing happen to me last year. I'd just taken my first TRU seminar and was thinking a lot about situational awareness (being alert to the world around you so you can avoid dangerous situations). After parking my car in an alleyway beside my favorite coffeehouse, I peeked out all the windows. Nothing. Then I got out and looked around again. No one there. Way to go, I told myself. You're all prepped for danger. You've got this, girl.

With those thoughts in mind, I turned and grabbed my gear out of the back seat. Keep in mind that I carry a lot of gear. Backpack, coffee thermos, laptop stand (gotta avoid carpal tunnel), extra blanket. Hey, I'm a writer, so I need this stuff. And it takes approximately ten seconds to get it all out of my car.

In that ten seconds, a guy snuck up on me.

Yep, I went from totally alone to a guy-in-my-face in less time than it takes to pour a cup of coffee. He wanted money, and while he was repeatedly asking me for it, all I could think is that I was screwed. My arms were full. The car door was open behind me. The weapon on my keychain was unreachable. I might have been Trained, but I wasn't even close to Ready or Unafraid.

It took a couple of seconds for rational thought to kick in. Closing the car door with my hip, I fished my keychain out and locked my vehicle. I told the guy "no" and walked away. Done, right?

Wrong. He followed me.

My first thought was Crap. My second was If this guy doesn't kill me, Trina's going to, because this is exactly what she told me not to do.

But I wasn't helpless. Shifting all my gear to one hand, I grabbed the keychain weapon with my other and started swinging it around...just to let the guy know I had a makeshift nunchuck and was prepared to use it. And I kept glancing over my shoulder at him all the way to the coffeehouse. He said something to me as I went in, but I didn't hear him. All I wanted was to get away. Luckily, I did.

Once inside, I started shaking. I was mad, guys. Really mad. Partly at the guy for taking advantage of me, and partly at myself for letting him. I'm an INFJ, but that doesn't mean I have to be a victim. Yes, I'm quiet and thoughtful and listen more than I talk. Yes, I'm often inside my head, where life is good and daydreams are better. That's okay. I'm still valuable.

I'm still worth defending.

In her seminars, Trina goes over a lot of techniques. She wants us to be situationally aware so we don't get hurt. If we do find ourselves in trouble, she teaches us how to free ourselves from an attacker's grip. She shows us the pressure points that hurt like hell and how to bring a predator to their knees by twisting their arm. Above all, she tries to drive home a concept many of us need to hear: We have the right to defend ourselves because we're worth defending.

This is a long post, so if you're still reading...thank you! Please allow me to reward you by sharing a few tips I've been using to become a more confident woman and INFJ:

  • Live in Yellow - Trina teaches the Cooper Code, a range of colors that symbolize levels of readiness. Yellow means you are relaxed, but actively aware of what's going on around you. There's no threat level; however, if one occurs, you're prepared for it. This is challenging for me, because I'm typically inside my head and not paying attention. But I'm getting in the habit of looking around when I'm in public. In cafes or coffeehouses, I seat myself facing the door, watch my peripherals, and keep my keychain beside my laptop for emergencies. 
  • Make Eye Contact - Predators choose their victims carefully. If they're in a parking lot and have to pick between a woman looking them in the eye and another with her head down or buried in a smartphone, who do you think they go for? I typically don't make eye contact with people, so this one's also a challenge. I'm doing better, and I'm finding that a lot of people actually smile or say hello when I meet their gazes. But if I'm uncomfortable with direct eye contact, I just check out their forehead or nose. :)
  • Just Say No - When people approach you and ask for something, it's natural to go along. For INFJs, it's almost a given. We loooove helping and don't want to turn anyone away. But this can be dangerous (not to mention stressing us out). Try to choose your battles. You have the right to say no to any person at any time, regardless if it hurts their feelings. Set your boundaries and stick to them. 
  • Arm Yourself - You don't have to be a martial arts expert to fend off an attacker. There are things you can carry with you that will help if you're in trouble. I have an ear-splitting whistle attached to my keychain. I also have a MUNIO:
    It looks harmless, but trust me...it's not. I have some nice bruises from one during my recent training session. When applied correctly, they hurt. They also turn your keychain into a badass weapon (visit the MUNIO website to see this baby in action).
  • Remember Your Worth - As I said before, I struggle with confidence. Being an INFJ makes me sensitive to so many things, including people's opinions. Sometimes I sit and think about something stupid I did in high school, or replay a recent conversation that I wish had gone better. I can't help it. INFJs feel everything and judge themselves with a highly critical eye. But though it can torture us at times, that sensitive nature is invaluable to the world. I think it's cool for a small percentage of the population to play such a vital role. There will always be those who criticize, and I'm learning to let that go. You can't climb high if you're weighed down with baggage. We're INFJs with lots of neat superpowers. We're worth defending!
Wow, this turned into a novel, lol. I guess after a few weeks of not posting, I had a lot to say. I hope it will encourage you in your journey.

Have a great week and take care,

Image Credit: Badass Hubs (me), Negative Thought, Scared, Worth Defending and MUNIO (me)


Write comments
Colin Machan
March 24, 2016 at 11:16 AM delete

Wow! How brave of you to stand up to that guy - and also brave to share that with us all on this blog.

Thanks for your honesty and for continuing to inspire and encourage us all. :)

Much love

March 24, 2016 at 1:04 PM delete

You're so welcome...and thank YOU for your love and support. It means the world to me. <3

March 24, 2016 at 7:16 PM delete

This actually hits me on two levels. One is that I have so little comprehension of feeling that powerless. I've nearly always been a formidable size, at least relative to my age. The people who can physically intimidate me are those in the category of professional football linemen. But for all that I'm inexperienced in feeling intimidated, I get my most violent moments when I see others preying on people weaker than them. The only fight I got into in school was when someone was picking on one of my girl friends.
Yet while I tend to follow many of the rules you state for physical safety, I fail so much when it comes to the confidence in my heart and mind. Many things have shaken my confidence, and it takes a conscious act to summon my reserves when my senses are being assaulted. It has been an interesting experience taking the job of security guard. There are parts of it where I do have to step outside my comfort, and I am always amazed when I succeed (though I really ought not to be).

Asul Paruparo
March 25, 2016 at 9:39 AM delete

If you have not done so already you should read "The Gift of Fear" by De Becker. It is a must read for all females.