A Girl’s First Life of Defense . . . Her Intuition

intuition
What if I told you that there is a completely free tool available to you that could keep you safe from danger, help you pick the right answer on a multiple choice exam, or guide you towards making the right decision when buying a car or picking a school? You’d be all over that, right? What if I told you that you already own it?…

My sophomore year of college, I attended a party at a fraternity house dressed to impress. I had just gotten out of a relationship and I was ready to flirt and mingle. When I walked through the door of the house and noticed a few appreciative glances, my confidence soared and I was ready for a fun night. Just then I happened to make eye contact with this one guy and all the warning bells and whistles in my body went off. I didn’t know what it was, but I felt totally creeped out. There was something going on and I couldn’t put my finger on it. I ignored the feeling, but also avoided any contact with this guy as best I could.

As the DSS (Designated Sober Sister), I found myself hitting the practically abandoned soda table at one point during the evening. When I turned over my shoulder to exit the room, there he was….Creepy McCreeperson. I felt myself completely freeze up as he approached me. It felt like there was a lock in the center of my stomach just under my ribs and someone had forced in the key and bolted it. As he spoke to me, he started running his hand across my collarbone and my mind raced as I looked for a socially acceptable way to get away from him. At that moment, one of my sorority sisters came through the door looking for me. Now, she was never one to care much about being “socially acceptable” and with the added bonus of having had a couple of drinks, she had no problem telling him to get his hands off me and pulling me safely out of the room.

Later that night, I thought “What was that? Why had that guy given me such an intense feeling? And what had that feeling meant?”
We’ve probably all had a similar experience. Something isn’t right in our environment. We know something isn’t right, but we aren’t sure what or why or how. That’s our intuition and if we learn to listen to it without judgment and respond accordingly, that is the tool that can protect us in a variety of circumstances.

Violence prevention expert, Gavin de Becker defines intuition as ‘knowing something without knowing why’. Now that’s a pretty cool concept! You can know something, but not necessarily be consciously aware of why you know it. And the coolness of that is magnified when you consider this little known fact about intuition: it’s always going to take you to a safer place. It’s never going to put you in more danger to trust and act on your intuition. The trick is that we have to accept these feelings on face value and resist the urge to overanalyze. Because while we’re stroking the old proverbial beard asking ourselves “Is my intuition reliable?,” we could find that our opportunity to act has passed us by and we are now in a pickle.

Recently, I had the experience of locking eyes with a guy and this time all the right bells and whistles went off. I knew I’d found someone special. I didn’t know yet why or how, but I knew he was going to be important to me. And because I had taken the time to explore my intuition and how it communicates with me, I knew I could trust that feeling, turn off my very human desire to over think things, and enjoy the wonderful feeling of getting to know someone who excites me. Thanks, intuition!

GFB – Heather

Portland Actress Shares Success Story

Alana and GFB Speaker Jaime Out On The TownThe best fight is the fight never fought. If you have ever been to a Girls Fight Back seminar, you have undoubtedly heard one of our speakers tell you this. You have also heard that setting boundaries with both your words your body are truly fantastic tools that we can all use to avoid violence in our lives. A good friend of mine and wonderful actress, Alana, told me a story this week that makes me believe in boundaries and preparation with even more conviction.  This is Alana’s story.

Alana went to France over Thanksgiving. First, I think we should all take a moment to be jealous of Alana’s holiday plans that were probably much cooler than our own. OK, now that is out of the way and I will continue with her story. When Alana was in France, she was sight-seeing and doing other cool things and came upon a marketplace of sorts and various people were trying to sell all sorts of things. One person stuck out for all the wrong reasons. Alana had a weird feeling about him because he was trying to get people to come over to him but did not appear to be selling anything. The man addressed Alana, she told him she wasn’t interested, and turned to walk away. He grabbed her arm. Let’s all take a moment and realize how inappropriate it was to grab her.  Alana whirled around and said, “Don’t touch me.” Oh, by the way, she said it in French! How cool is that?!?  The man did not let go and Alana prepped for a knee drive, which made him think twice and release her arm.  

 Alana went to one of the GFB seminars I put on in Portland last summer and said the seminar helped her know how to handle the situation, so this story made me incredibly happy. Let’s break Alana’s story down a little bit. First, Alana had a weird feeling about someone but, at first, was not sure why. This was her intuition. To directly rip off the words of Gavin DeBecker, your intuition is knowing something without knowing why. Later, Alana realized this man felt out of place because he was calling attention to himself in a marketplace but was not actually selling anything. That is also a great example of being aware of your surroundings. Second, Alana set a very clear verbal boundary when she told him she wasn’t interested in talking to him. Third, Alana set a very firm, final, unmistakably clear physical and verbal boundary by turning to the man and saying “Don’t touch me!” When that did not work, Alana was prepared to defend herself and fight back if necessary.

 This is a total success story that should be celebrated.  Alana fought the best fight ever . . . The one that is never fought! Alana trusted her intuition,  being a bad victim, and was completely prepared to defend herself. While, I am so thankful she didn’t actually have to fight, I am equally thankful that my friend Alana knows that she is worth fighting for and had confidence and presence of mind in a scary situation. Success stories like this are more common than some might think.  They just are not talked about enough. Be on the lookout for the success stories in your own lives and remember to celebrate them.

Just a hunch? Maybe not…

A piece in the New York Times this week, third in a series of stories about the research of “Brain Power,” sheds interesting light on the existence and importance of human intuition.

The concept of a hunch, or a gut feeling, is explored as it relates to soldiers’ abilities to detect hidden explosives in war zones. Woven through the research is the story of Sgt. First Class Edward Tierney, who impulsively ordered his patrol of nine men to fall back from a car holding two small boys parked unassumingly on a sidewalk in Iraq. Seconds later, the car exploded.

The story concludes:

“Since then, Sergeant Tierney has often run back the tape in his head, looking for the detail that tipped him off. Maybe it was the angle of the car, or the location; maybe the absence of an attack, the sleepiness in the market: perhaps the sum of all of the above.

‘I can’t point to one thing,’ he said. ‘I just had that feeling you have when you walk out of the house and know you forgot something — you got your keys, it’s not that — and need a few moments to figure out what it is.’

He added, ‘I feel very fortunate none of my men were killed or badly wounded.’”

The article delves into the science behind this phenomenon of intuition, explaining that the humans are often subconsciously aware of details that accompany danger, and they feel a sense of urgency even before the brain has time to process those details.

‘”Not long ago people thought of emotions as old stuff, as just feelings — feelings that had little to do with rational decision making, or that got in the way of it,’ said Dr. Antonio Damasio, director of the Brain and Creativity Institute at the University of Southern California. ‘Now that position has reversed. We understand emotions as practical action programs that work to solve a problem, often before we’re conscious of it. These processes are at work continually, in pilots, leaders of expeditions, parents, all of us.’ …

As the brain tallies cues, big and small, consciously and not, it may send out an alarm before a person fully understands why.”

The importance of listening to intuition – whether you are on bomb patrol in Mosul or meeting a new “friend” at a party – cannot be underestimated. One of the leading books on this subject is called “The Gift of Fear,” by safety expert Gavin de Becker. GDB describes intuition as knowing something, without knowing why. The book goes on to explain that two facts about intuition are always true:

1. Intuition is always based on something, even if you can’t consciously see a reason to be wary.
2. Intuition will always lead you to a safer place, never into danger.

Trusting our intuition is one of the greatest tools we have as humans to guard our own personal safety. But going through life ever vigilant and prepared to listen to our survival signals does not mean that we live in constant fear. On the contrary, because we know our intuition will warn us of danger, just like Sergeant Tierney’s intuition warned him of an imminent explosion, we feel at peace, unthreatened, comfortable in our own skin.

This confidence we gain by acknowledging and trusting our intuition, in fact, allows that very intuition to function more effectively. Consider this statement in the New York Times piece:

“In war, anxiety can run as high as the Iraqi heat, and neuroscientists say that the most perceptive, observant brain on earth will not pick up subtle clues if it is overwhelmed by stress.

In the Army study of I.E.D. detection, researchers found that troops who were good at spotting bombs in simulations tended to think of themselves as predators, not prey. That frame of mind by itself may work to reduce anxiety, experts say.”

Thus, our intuition makes us feel more confident and secure, and that very confidence allows our intuition to function at a heightened level, keeping us even safer, making us feel even more confident, and the upward spiral continues.

The moral of the story is:

1. Intuition is one of your most powerful safety resources.
2. What appears to be just a “hunch” is likely a signal that your brain has not even processed – listen to it!
3. Trusting your intuition will raise your confidence, allowing your intuition to thrive, keeping you safer, and so on.

Next time you know something without knowing why, trust your instinct. Your brain knows more than you realize!