Once upon a time, learning to defend yourself was a simple matter of fending off wolves and stopping physical violence from others. OK, not so simple, but still much more black and white than the kind of things we need to defend ourselves from in the 21st century. Where it was once only about the physical, now we need to consider many other factors.
Don’t get me wrong, physical self-defence is still very important, as it is so fundamental (and I have, after all, dedicated my life to teaching others to defend themselves from physical violence). Even though the physical aspect is what would be considered more my area of expertise, I am aware of, and often talk about, other aspects of life that require a kind of self-defence strategy (in addition to the knowledge and skill to deal with them).
I will be discussing three areas of interest that I think people often need help in understanding so that they can properly defend themselves. I will expand on each of these topics in subsequent posts.
- Digital Self-defence
- Financial Self-defence
- Mental Health Self-defence
Everything that was once pen and paper, to be found only in specific buildings now forgotten, called libraries, is now stored digitally on computers or in the cloud, accessible to anyone with enough skill or patience to trick the systems.
While we often think it’s mainly about having a strong password, many people still use Password01 or 123456 (terrible ideas!). Digital security is so much more complicated than that.
Do you know what a “phishing” scam is? They are very common, yet many people still fall prey to them. In fact, the famous “Hillary Clinton email hack” was traced to someone falling to such a scam (and should have known better); as case in which phishing changed the course of political history for all to see.
Or how about a “porting” scam, in which scammers transfer your phone number to another carrier so they can reset all of your passwords. So much for 2-step authentication.
It can be easy to fall prey to these if technology is not your thing. Best case scenario, you simply have to change a few passwords. Worse case scenario, you have your entire savings cleared out in seconds.
So have you done everything you need to do to preemptively protect your digital self?
Did I mention you can have your savings wiped out if you fall prey to digital scams? That is to say, if you in fact have any savings in the first place.
More and more, especially in the younger generations, people are struggling to defend themselves financially. Either because they can’t manage to save any money or they are not sure what to do with what they have.
Investing can be scary, and preparing for your retirement is something that can be put off for a long time because you feel like you have forever until that day. However, the earlier you learn financial self-defence, and thus the earlier you save and invest, the better of you will be.
Yes, financial literacy is extremely lacking, and it is increasingly harder to manage things yourselves without, ironically, forking out loads of cash to pay an expert. The thing is, the more financially literate you are as soon as possible, the easier choices will be in the future. That is, unless you happen to start during a black swan event, like what’s been going on in the market recently. Then its just bad luck.
Either way, how financially prepared are you to deal with the inevitable ups and downs you will face throughout your life?
This is a topic which I have discussed before, and for many it may in fact be the hardest thing to deal with. How you address it will also depend on where in the world you are when you read this; it may or may not be considered a culturally acceptable topic, or there may not be support readily available for mental health.
Additionally, mental health, realistically, is relatively new topic in its own right, and as a result there are many aspects we are still trying to figure out, which means finding meaningful and closer-to-correct answers can be difficult.
“Difficult” becoming “seemingly impossible” if you are in the middle of a specific mental health crisis. On this I will argue, like all self-defence, that, if you are able to, you are the one most responsible for regulating and rebuilding your mental health; even when you have strong support networks. If you don’t have a support network, then know that you are not alone in the world.
This topic is very sensitive and it is often connected to experiences related to physical self-defence. Or it may be connected to other considerations, such as genetics, family history, or particular non-violent events in your life. Either way, it is a complicated subject and requires a certain level of understanding and knowledge to truly delve into.
Yet day-to-day mental health and happiness may be more important than physical self-defence, assuming you are in a safe country. If you are somewhere that physical self-defence is still a big part of your daily life, then often your mind may be too preoccupied to even realize that you are suffering a mental health problem.
Just know, as with physical self-defence, there are training options for both preventative measures and coping mechanisms to deal with such issues.
One thing to remember, in this world that is increasingly more and more complicated, is the importance of understanding that everything is interconnected. Only focusing on one area of your self-defence really is only looking at one part of the picture. It can be hard to understand it all, but if you are oblivious to the workings of your life, your emotions, and the world around you, then it will be even more difficult to overcome hardships when you are blindsided by events that you could have done something to stop, had you been aware.
Remember, no matter what type of self-defence you are practicing, at the end of the day the only person who can really protect you, is you. Waiting for others to step up may often just mean disappointment, which means further conflict, both internally and externally, which means you may not feel like you have any power at all, which is the farthest thing from the truth.
So what are you going to do to improve your ability to defend yourself, physically, digitally, financially, or mentally?
Written by: Jonathan Fader