Monday, 20 May 2013

Body Language As Self-Defense

By: Drew Fabricius

I think you’d be surprised by how much you reveal about yourself through your body language.  Do you stand erect with your head up or do you slump your shoulders with your head hanging?  Are your movements relaxed or spastic?  
Our assessments of people happen on a subconscious level (or conscious, if you know what to look for) based on body language cues we get from other people.  Usually, within moments of interacting with someone, we are able to come to a pretty accurate idea of how someone views themselves.  Do they think they are valuable and worthwhile or do they think they are lowly and meek?  We are able to determine this by all of the tiny, minute signals we give off via how we sit, stand, walk, talk etc.  Everything we do outside of the actual words that come out of our mouths, says something about us.  

Your body language is the manifestation of your beliefs about
Perfect example of a confident woman.
Notice how she is completely comfortable
in her own skin and owns her presence.
yourself.  If you view yourself highly and think you are worthwhile, then your actions will follow suit.  Conversely, if you believe that you are unattractive and not valuable, you will embody those beliefs.
 This plays a bigger role in our interactions with others than you might think.  Let’s pretend that you are someone who is looking to take a person’s wallet from them.  You’re scoping out potential victims for your soon-to-be crime.  There are not many people out at this time of night but you see two people walking.  One is a man who has a swagger to his walk.  He stands tall, looks comfortable and doesn’t look easily intimidated.  The other man has both hands in his pockets, has his head down and is briskly walking.  It’s almost as if he is EXPECTING to get jumped.  Which is the easier target?  Easy, right?  Like I said, you already have an idea of how these two people view themselves and you haven’t even talked to them yet!  And since this is a blog devoted to self-defense, what better way to defend yourself from would-be attackers than to pre-empt an assault by giving off the vibe that you are a difficult target ie. you are someone who values themselves GREATLY (but not in an arrogant way) and that you expect people to treat you accordingly.  In fact, it would be weird if they did treat you any differently.   Easier said then done, right?  It can be hard at first if you have been someone your whole life who carries themselves as the second person in the example above but change is possible.  

Your body language and your beliefs about yourself have a yin-yang relationship with one another; they both influence each other.  In order to carry yourself as someone who values themselves, it’s best to change both your body language and your beliefs.  I’ll save a post for another time on your beliefs, so for now let’s just work on having proper body language:

  • Good posture. Make sure your back is straight; shoulders are down, back and relaxed; chin up a bit.  Imagine if there were a string coming out at the top of your head and you pulled it up.  The picture below is how your posture should look:

  • Own your space.  Own your presence.  Be powerful but not arrogant. 
  • Slow down your movements.  They should be slow and relaxed and reflect that overall, you are coming from a place of "I am mature, secure and confident".  You are not in a hurry to get anywhere and you are completely content wherever you are.  Be Michelle Obama. 
 All this may feel weird at first but keep at it and eventually it will just be a part of you.  The amazing thing is that the better you get at carrying yourself in a way that communicates “I am valuable”, the more others will start to treat you that way and this will further solidify to yourself that you are, in fact, valuable.  This ultimately comes down to how you feel about yourself.  If you are strong on the inside, then you will embody strength.  

Now, obviously, even confident people get attacked here and there.  I am not saying that this is a sure-fire way to avoid confrontation with others completely.  But, I would wager that criminals would think twice about attacking someone who clearly is internally strong.  

If you want more info on this topic, I highly recommend checking out this awesome TED talk on body language and looking/feeling powerful:

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