It’s hard to do, but much of the time we should put the tactical swagger aside and engage instead through the ancient Daoist (Taoist) concept of wuwei – non-doing, or non-action. Paradoxically, perhaps it’s better thought of as the “action of non-action.”
Too Zenny for you?
I hope not, because often the more we can do by “not doing,” the better.
From the self defensive standpoint, this could mean having enough awareness of situation and surroundings that you have an inkling something is “up;” say spying a pair of sketchy dudes further down the block that seem be paying you inordinate attention, or noticing that panhandler at the entrance to the Safeway when you pulled into the lot, and then avoiding an issue by not dealing with it to begin with – turning around or crossing the street in the first case, or going through a separate entrance in the second.
“What??” Some might bristle…but I have a RIGHT to walk in this world, to go down the street or into the store, unmolested and unintimidated! And if anyone tries anything I will make them wish they hadn’t!
That’s fine and all, and if you choose to go through life this way you likely will need the self defense skills you so carefully cultivate. Too often, we seem to concentrate more on the Action part. Tactical thinking – and common sense – sometimes go out the window in the interest of a kind of tough-talking self righteous mentality that is more insecurity than assertiveness.
In the cop world we derisively refer to it as the “contempt of cop” mentality: “I am the PO-lice! I am the boss here. When I say jump you do it and anything less is resisting arrest!”
This is bad habit, and bad practice. When you start to look at these situations as some kind of dick-measuring contest, or some kind of proving ground, the creep in your focus is complete and you’ve missed the point altogether.
This is by no means “go along to get along.” It is not “hug-a-thug” nor is it conflict avoidance at all costs.
It is simply choosing one’s battles, and between what should be let go, what we are willing to let go and what we know needs addressed, and how.
Non-action requires confidence. In one’s skillsets, so that one does not feel the need to “prove” anything; and in our decision making, so that we can rest easy knowing that not acting was the right call.
It won’t always be, but you won’t always know…
If you reasonably believe violence is imminent, you may – very often should – make the decision to act. If not, non-action is usually the best course. Of course, not acting could include lots of action – observing the scene and the facts and circumstances, paying attention to description and cues that might cause action to become reasonable and necessary, “standing by to stand by” so to speak… …minding your business while simultaneously minding the situation.
This takes composure and self-assurance, and a lack of the need to prove oneself.