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It is by no means self-evident that human beings
are most real when most violently excited;
violent physical passions do not in themselves
differentiate men from each other, but rather
tend to reduce them to the same state.
Adrenalin, Monkey & Lizard Brains and Neurology
On this page:
Anger | Baths, Pathways and Perception | Boundaries | Difference between Assertive and Aggressive | De-escalation | Emotional Tsunamis | Fear | When It Hits The Fan |
We have seen countless examples of fights, where afterwards, both parties claimed "self-defense." Both parties will tell you it was the other that was the aggressor. Stop and think about that for a second, how can two people both be 'fighting' defensively? If that were the case, there'd be no fight at all. Each would be sitting on his/her 'side of the fence.'
Here is where we have to make a subtle distinction. Regardless of what their actions in the conflict were, from an individual emotional perspective, both are telling the "truth."
Both feel that the other initiated the confrontation and aggression. The other emotionally hurt him "first" and attacked first. They on the other hand, responded appropriately to the other's transgression. Both parties will tell you this with absolute conviction and feeling.
But just because you feel it doesn't make it true.
While many people are intellectually aware of how subjective a topic can be, what they don't understand is how much what we think, feel and perceive is based on a complex blend of physiology, chemistry and psychology. So powerful are these factors that they can literally hijack you and take you for a ride that you have no control over! In these extremes, your body undergoes physiological and chemical changes that alter your perceptions, destroys logic and drive you to extreme action. To use an analogy, in the grip of these elements, it isn't like weathering a hurricane, you are the hurricane.
The big problem with all of this is after the hurricane passes, you must live with the damages you caused. Not only to your own 'property' and the property of others, but legal, social and psychological repercussions.
How we react to perceived danger is huge and complex subject involving many different fields of study (neurology, psychology, physiology and biological chemistry). What's more, is the subject has many different levels. (You're going to react differently to different levels of threats). In the self-defense world there is a very popular trend to focus on the extremes of this process. The whole complex mess is commonly referred to as the Adrenal Stress Response.
In a violent encounter, understanding the adrenal response and being able to function in its grip IS a matter of life and death. If not yours, somebody else's. That's because in this state it is not uncommon to either under-react or over-react. To put it into black and white terms, that means you either freeze when you should be shooting or shoot when you shouldn't.
But this process doesn't start and stop with physical violence.
A situation turning physical is the extreme end of this process. It has been functioning all along ... in fact, odds are, this process is what got you into the conflict in the first place! You may have thought you were in the driver's seat, but there's a really good chance you weren't.
This section will give you a layman's explanation of the physiological process that is going on inside of you and how that effects what you do. Knowing this you can better control your actions to keep from creating -- and escalating --conflicts and violent situations.
In other words, what you will be doing is really defending yourself, not fighting.
Unfortunately, one of the best ways to get hijacked is through your own anger. Anger often takes us from a defender into being an aggressor. Learn about anger and where it comes from -- so you can control it, not the other way around
Baths, Pathways and Perception
Understanding how the way your brain works effects what you perceive, feel, do and think. Your brain is the vehicle for all of those things, the first step in controlling it (instead of it controlling you) is understanding how it works.
A lot of people talk about defending their boundaries (or their space). But before you can effectively defend your boundaries, it helps to understand what they are. Unfortunately, all too often people who think they are defending their space are invading the space of others. Then they wonder why the situation escalates. Learn how knowing the difference between your space, his space and shared space can minimize conflict.
Realize that when you are in the middle of a chemical/emotional reaction, so too is the other person! His or her perceptions are skewed and that, not the reality of the situation is what that person is reacting to. When you are trying to de-escalate a situation, bringing that person out of the adrenal stress response is a big factor.
Difference between Assertive and
One will prevent or deescalate a conflict. One will both cause and escalate a conflict. Assertiveness doesn't mean giving in. It means protecting your boundaries without invading someone else's -- and thereby making them feel they must fight.
Emotions are an important survival trait. We refer to them as 'motivational messages.' Face it, we wouldn't be here today if our ancestors had said "Oh I say, there's a charging leopard. What say that after we finish our tea, we climb that tree and escape?" Emotions are are often an octane boost to our actions. Unfortunately, these emotional hijackings can send us speeding over a cliff.
Many people try to overcome fear. In fact there is a huge market out there of programs that claim they can help you become fearless. We consider this not only to be a bad idea, but bordering on suicidal. Fear is a motivational ally and an important messenger. While it is true that if not controlled, fear can become an overwhelming hindrance, you never want to get rid of it entirely. We discuss understanding fear, its importance and how to successfully channel your fear into achieving your goals.
Although this page was originally written as a blog, it introduces an obsessive type of personality that you will run across in the MA/SD/RBSD/ WSD/ Combatives world.
When It Hits The Fan
In the middle of a violent encounter everything we've discussed in this section goes to extremes. Your physiology will catapult you to an unfamiliar condition where it will be difficult for you to function. If you have not familiarized yourself with these effects before hand they can effectively destroy your ability to react.
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