How to Hone your Sense of 360° and Why
We observe at every news show and every news stand headliners about three types of people: victims, predators, and others [counselors, officers of public safety, family and friends]. While ghoulishly fascinated with the horrifying acts of predators, we feel sympathy for the victims. But what is even more important is to feel a burning determination never to be a victim yourself and to learn how to deter the bad guys. We need to make it so by learning strategies to be safer. And we need to teach others in our circle of influence.
You can train yourself to be alert at all times to what is going on around you. This training applies to driving, to walking, to parking, to walking into your home, to stepping outside to take out the garbage. People who live in nature and in rural places have an edge on city dwellers because danger can come from one wrong step – like on a rattlesnake.
Remember driver’s training? My teacher stressed that while driving on the freeway it is safer to adjust one’s speed to drive in a pocket empty of traffic when possible. He also trained us to look frequently in all rear mirrors to see if someone was speeding toward us or swerving lane to lane. He taught us that the sense of 360 on the roads may save our life. That sense of 360 applies to going through intersections. How many people have you seen that run stop signs or red lights just in front of you? That sense of 360 can help you avoid intersection crashes by stopping if someone is coming through.
Fifteen years ago, we fostered, then adopted a niece from Greece. She was 14 at that time, measured five feet and one inch, and weighed 90 pounds. When I saw her walk, I knew instinctively that she could possibly be a target for a predator. She walked with her head down, unknowing of what was going on around. She toed in a bit, held her arms close to her body or crossed in front, and never looked anyone in the eye. So, I challenged her to learn to walk like a warrior, upright, meeting people eye to eye, striding with confidence and glancing over the shoulders from time to time, and be ready to run and scream. Years later, she is alert to her world. I believe it is because she developed a strong sense of 360.
We can trust our instinct, but we must immediately act if we are to be safe. A while ago I was putting groceries away in my car, one of those with a low trunk. I felt someone approaching me from behind and turned with a 28oz can of peeled tomatoes ready to defend myself. The guy stopped, held his hands up in surrender and said ‘Jesus, lady, I was just going to tell you what a nice car you have!’ Part of a definition of victim is one who does not fight back. That guy knew that I was ready to fight with everything I had, even the groceries, and he left.
Other, common sense, parking tips: look around before you get out and then back into your car, only unlock your driver’s door, immediately lock it again. If someone stands close to ask ‘directions’ roll your window down only a bit and keep your car in gear ready to MOVE. The multitasking, cellphone thing has made it really easy for predators – how easy it is to be alert and to defend yourself when talking or texting on the phone?
Sometimes when around our home, going in and coming out, we let our guard down. How many victims have reported “I just walked in and the house was tossed, or TV missing, and went to investigate?” Does this seem like a smart thing to do? We need to have eyes open; ears open; and use our sense of smell. Do you smell cigarette smoke when you are not a smoker? Do you smell aftershave or soap that is not familiar? When you have the least inkling that something is not right, leave immediately and call the police.
We must learn to heed our instinct.
There is a strong sense, feeling, or even a small voice from inside that helps keep us safe. If we pay attention, over time this sense grows stronger. Some people even have this feeling show up as queasiness. A friend once said, “my belly-o-meter indicates caution concerning so-and-so”. I now notice my belly-o-meter and am more careful about people. Whether you are on a trail in the wild, strolling a downtown sidewalk, or even meditating in a labyrinth, be alert.
Most mornings I walk for exercise by myself for about 45 minutes. I often glance around even over my shoulder to be sure someone is not close without me knowing. I attempt the 360 alertness at all times but sometime am still surprised. On one of those walks, I suddenly felt a jolting blow to my head,quickly turned, no one there except a huge hawk flying away! I finally understood HE went after my bouncing hair thinking it was a ‘tall rabbit’, ‘short tailed squirrel’ or something of the like. [I was really happy he noticed the error and pulled in his talons at the last minute.] Now I look all around – 360 – vertically from left to right, AND horizontally from up [for birds of prey] to down [remember snakes]. We live and learn.
I must say, however, my safety is not only due to my own efforts. My guardian
angel must be very busy! Every day I thank my Creator and Protector for keeping me safe. This feeling of gratitude is etched within me for life.