How aware are you of your surroundings? What kind of self-protection habits do you regularly practice to make yourself a harder target?
Sometimes certain things seem like common sense, but are they really? How often do you check to make sure your house is secure while you are still in it? Most of us have a habit of checking doors before departing, but what about other times? My neighbor continually leaves her garage doors open, late into the night. She lives there with her 2-year old daughter, her elderly mother and her bed-ridden grandmother. They come from a small town where you were probably safe leaving your doors unlocked all the time. Not so in the big city or even the suburbs these days, and I often wonder about their safety. There have been recent reports in my neighborhood of people wandering around at odd hours, like 3AM. It became such a concern that the association is hiring a cop to patrol the neighborhood. It seems really “safe” around here, but do I know that for sure?
How often do you run into a convenience store and leave your car unlocked, or your engine running? I heard a horror story years ago about a woman who left her car unlocked as she ran inside the convenience store to pay for gas. While she was away, a man slipped into the back seat of her car. Long story short—the man assaulted her and raped her. Heck, I don’t even sit IN my car without the doors locked.
Women: do you take your pepper spray with you when you run or walk? I take mine—I like to walk in the woods. I have it IN my hand because I don’t want to have to fumble around in my pouch to find it in an emergency. I often encounter male hikers and bikers. I don’t know if they have nefarious intentions—better safe than sorry. I also don’t take an iPod. What if I cannot hear someone coming up behind me, or what if I walk in a high-traffic area? My instructor suggested wearing one earphone in and one out. Certainly I would not blast my music because it takes away important sensory data about my surroundings.
Do you notice things like emergency exits, or your escape route? Do you notice people and their body language when you enter public spaces? I feel I notice more than I used to, though sometimes my mind is pre-occupied. We can be very observant in some areas (like nature), and comatose in others, like the marketplace. I am guilty too, at times. Nevertheless, the other day I was driving through a shopping center parking lot towards the main road when I noticed a man walking briskly alongside a store. He was coming from behind the store. His hair was disheveled, his white shirt was dirty and he had blood on his right brow as well as the left corner of his mouth. I could even see that his mouth was swollen. I was able to pick out these details while riding by in a car. Seeing him made me uneasy, I must admit. In any case, what can you discover about your surroundings that you might normally tune out? Make it a game and play with it. This kind of play could very well save your life one day.
Some would say this kind of thinking and activity is paranoid. I only ask you to consider opening your awareness. My instructor often talks about being a sheep versus being a tiger. I have no desire to be prey. Which would you rather be?