Thursday 07-04-16

Make no mistake; not everyone out there is your friend. Not everyone out there has your best interests at heart. Most of us, at one time or another, has trusted the wrong person (it is only the degree of trust, and the consequences that vary). Whether that trust ended in a friend who has let you down, or in tragic circumstances, we all have a story to tell.

On the more serious end of the spectrum (where you experienced an event that taught you a valuable life lesson), there were warning signs. You might not have recognised them at the time, but they were there. The most important warning sign was the uncomfortable feeling you had in your gut. Once you’ve felt it, you never forget it. And once you know what that feeling means, it is only a fool who ignores it. One way to describe that feeling is like having a tennis ball sized lump of ice sliding around in the pit of your stomach.

It doesn’t matter where you are; if someone makes you feel genuinely uncomfortable, it is time to leave (when I say uncomfortable, I don’t mean the way an annoying relative makes you feel at Christmas, I mean at a primal level). The individuals who have this effect on people are predators, and they are well aware how they make people feel. Not only are they aware, they rely on social norms to allow them to get away with their behaviour. Those social norms include people being too polite for their own good (or simply “not wanting to make a scene”). Instead of calling them on their behaviour, or leaving the situation, the average person will tolerate quite ridiculous behaviour in order to avoid conflict.

Does this scenario sound familiar to you? You’ve spent some time with someone, but the longer you spent with them the more uncomfortable you felt. Then when you tried to leave they used a phase like “Don’t you think you’re being rude?”, or “Don’t be like that. It was only a joke” ? This was an attempt to embarrass you into staying, or make you believe your feelings are unfounded. You don’t need any special training to work out there is something terribly wrong here.

It doesn’t matter who they are, or where you are; if you genuinely feel there is something wrong with a situation or person, you must leave immediately. If they are so desperate to prevent you from leaving, you have to wonder why. What possible motive could they have for keeping you around, when you are obviously uncomfortable and want to leave? Unfortunately, the longer you remain in these situations, the more dangerous the situations are going to become. And the more difficult it will be to escape from them (especially if you have left a public area, such as a bar, and gone to a secluded secondary location, perhaps their house or flat).

Leave the situation immediately. You don’t need their permission to leave. You don’t need to spare their feelings. You don’t have to justify your decision to leave. Just leave.

Just as “No” is a valid answer to a question, and it doesn’t need any further explanation; you don’t need to explain to them why you are leaving. If your primal instincts are telling you something, listen to them. There are some lessons you don’t want to learn the hard way.

If this blog helps even one person avoid a dangerous situation, then I have achieve my aim. But this information can only help other people if they know about it. Please share this post with your friends and family on social media.

Thursday 03/03/16

There are many different types of knots, and each one has a specific purpose. If they are tied correctly, they should be relatively easy to undo.

Unfortunately, we have all encountered the dreaded knot that has gone wrong; and no matter what you do, it won’t come undone. Most commonly, these mutant granny-knots are found in the drawstrings of tracksuit pants (or board shorts), in shoe laces, and the in the ties of your martial arts Gi. And for some strange reason, they also appear in your camping gear (such as guide ropes for your tent..... but you only find these if it is about to rain and you are in a hurry to put-up, or pack-up your camp).

Anyway, we’ve all been there. You’ve tied the drawstring in your pants that little bit too tight, and the knot you tied has mutated into an unsolvable puzzle. You struggle in vain to undo the knot, but it won’t budge (and your ever-filling bladder isn’t helping the situation). The situation appears hopeless.

Fortunately, the solution is simpler than you’d think.

Instead of admitting defeat and reaching for the scissors, grab your pocket knife. Pull the corkscrew out and carefully thread the corkscrew into the offending knot (notice I said carefully, you don’t want to slip and poke yourself in the stomach, especially if you have a full bladder). Now slowly twist the corkscrew, working it into the middle of the knot, until at least one coil of the corkscrew emerges from the other side of the knot. Now jiggle the corkscrew until the knot loosens (which should only take a few seconds).

And there you have it, the knot is undone, and you don’t have to spend the next hour trying to thread a new drawstring through the waistband of your tracksuit pants. And you thought the only reason you had a corkscrew on your pocket knife was so you could drink wine when you went camping.

Go and grab an old piece of string and give this a go. When you’re finished doing that, share this blog with your friends on social media. Information is only useful if it is shared.

Thursday 04/02/16

Recently I was waiting in a queue behind an elderly gentleman who was being served at the counter. After removing his credit card from his wallet he gave the card to the cashier and placed his wallet on the counter, next to his left hand. From a safety and self-defence perspective this innocent act immediately drew my attention, especially since the wallet was stuffed full with $50 and $100 notes. Unfortunately I wasn’t the only one who noticed this innocuous event.

A moment later a man stepped out from the crowd behind us and asked the elderly gent if he knew the time. I instantly recognised the new arrival as a petty thief and local trouble maker. As the old man focused his attention on his watch the new arrival’s eyes flicked down the unattended wallet and back to the old man. The old man told the new arrival the time, but the new arrival pretended he didn’t hear him properly, and asked the old man to repeat what he said as he leaned in close. I subtly adjusted my position and pretended to look at my watch as I leaned close “to make sure my watch had the correct time”. As I cleared my throat the new arrival suddenly registered how close I was to him, and realised he had no chance of grabbing the wallet and running away before I could restrain him. He immediately dropped all pretence of wanting to know the time. He turned around and quickly walked away. I took a step backward as the old man turned back to the counter to complete his transaction.

Did I have any proof a crime was about to take place? No. Did my actions prevent a crime? Perhaps. Did I do the right thing by looking out for a vulnerable stranger? Definitely.

From now on, I want you to pay attention to what you do with your wallet (or purse), and your mobile phone when you’re out in public. Are you one of those people who leaves their wallet/purse or mobile phone on the table when you’re dining at an outdoor café? When you walk down the street, do you carry your valuables loosely in one hand? Do you use this same hand to point out directions to strangers?

Let’s take a look at these behaviours and habits in relation in relation to your safety. Nowadays, many people use their mobile phone cover as storage for their cash and their credit cards. This single item is a very valuable and easily grabbed target for bag-snatchers and pickpockets. Something for the men to consider: leaving your wallet hanging out of your back pocket is not a good idea (and never has been). Stop doing this immediately.

This week you have homework: Every time you leave the house this week I want you to pay close attention to what you do with your wallet/purse and mobile phone. Remember; in a crowded shopping mall, or on a busy sidewalk, your valuables can be quickly snatched and the offender can easily blend into the crowd, leaving you with no details to pass on to the police.

If you found the information in tonight’s blog useful, please share it with your friends and family on social media. Information is only useful if it is shared. The better educated people are, the less likely they are to fall victim to a petty thief.