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How to Recognize Imminent Danger: 7 Essential Safety Rules

How to Recognize Imminent Danger:  7 Essential Safety Rules

Danger

    Danger lurks everywhere. I’m not talking about health risks or economic downturns, I’m talking about human predators. Most people are good human beings, but there are some who are not. They are dangerous and hunt for victims. The good news is that you can keep yourself safe by following seven simple safety rules.

    I’m a 4th Dan Karate Black Belt and learned these seven safety rules during eighteen years of martial arts training. The safety rules are simple, because as human beings, we have a built-in warning system that alerts us to predator danger. This warning system is called fear. Yes, fear is our greatest ally in keeping ourselves safe.

    The problem is that our natural warning system has become blunted through easy living. We’ve lost our natural ability to keep ourselves safe. Before I guide you through the seven safety strategies, let me say something about a key safety issue.

    Don’t be an easy victim

    Predators always go for easy victims. I’m not just talking about big crimes, but also of daily aggression, such a bullying. I remember the time my son Sebastian came home from school and told me that he was being bullied by an older boy. Sebastian was seven years old at the time and had just started karate training. He grew up in a Zen household where peacefulness is valued, so he was confused about how to respond to bullying. Here is what he asked me:

    “Mum, if someone hits me, do I just have to take it and not hurt them back?”

    “Here’s what to do, Sebastian,” I said. “When the bully threatens you, stand up straight and hold both hands out in front of your chest, palms toward him, and say ‘stop!’ in a loud voice.”

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    “Why do I hold my hands like that?”

    “The open hands in front of you show that you want peace, as well as warning your opponent not invade to your personal space. And, most importantly – you’ve got your hands in place, ready to defend or punch.”

    “What? To punch?” His eyes grew round.

    “Yes. You need to study your opponent carefully. Wait until he’s just getting ready to throw a punch. Then get in first and punch him on the nose. I promise he’ll never attack you again.”

    Sebastian followed my advice. Next day he punched his tormentor just as I had suggested. The kids at school were impressed when they saw the big bully run away crying. I must admit, the headmaster wasn’t so pleased with my strategy, but Sebastian was never bullied again.

    He reminded me of my advice a short while ago. “That wasn’t exactly what a peace-loving mother is supposed to say,” he said. “But it worked!”

    Remember: never be an easy victim.

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    7 safety rules that can save your life

    1. Be alert

    I’m not talking about hyper-vigilance here. Just pay attention to what is around you. Think of all the times you walk around in a day dream, or preoccupied with your problems. Those are the times when you are in danger. Because keeping yourself safe is a matter of paying attention to possible danger and avoiding it.

    Keep your wits around you at all times. That means avoid getting drunk or drugged. When you’re inebriated, you turn into an easy victim.

    2. Use your senses

    When our forebears still lived in caves, the senses were essential survival tools. Smell could signal the approach of a dangerous animal, or lead to a food source. Hearing could alert to a predator creeping up, ready to attack. Taste could discern poisonous food.

    These days our sense are blunted and we’ve forgotten to use them in order to keep ourselves safe. Let me give you an example: many people walk through streets listening to music on their iPods. What that means is that someone can easily creep up from behind and attack. I suggest that you never listen to music while walking in order to stay alert to your surrounding.

    3. Notice anomalies

    Impending danger often shows up in anomalies. What I’m talking about is predators often behave in odd ways. Let me give you some examples. At the time of writing, I’m in Buenos Aires, which has a rising crime rate, due to growing poverty. At times, my partner and I have to walk though streets that are less than safe. Here are anomalies I watch out for:

    • A couple or small group coming towards you whose attention is on you, and not on each other.

    Normally a couple or a small group are focused on each other, talking and looking at each other. In contrast, predators hunting in packs are focused on possible victims.

    • People lurking or loitering without visible reason.

    Here’s an example: a few weeks ago my partner won a couple of thousand Dollars playing lotto. When he checked his ticket in the store, the win caused a bit of a stir and the store owner paid him out in cash. I quickly took stock of the situation and noticed that two of the guys who had been behind us in the queue were loitering outside the shop. So I immediately chose the back exit to get us home safely.

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    • People whose face or gait spells out severe mental illness.

    Severe mental disturbance shows in the face and in the gait of a person. For example, a normal person uses diagonal movements when walking: we swing the left arm when the right leg moves forward, and so on. People with severe mental illness often walk with parallel movements, i.e., the right arm and right leg move forward.

    Research has shown that we instinctively pick up such anomalies. Take note of your feelings of unease or fear and act upon them without delay. The best way to stay safe is to spot oncoming danger and avoid or evade it.

    4. Avoid angry scenes and ugly crowds.

    If you are at a club or a party and aggravation builds, leave the place immediately. If you are in a large crowd and the mood turns ugly, quickly move to the edge of the crowd and leave the area.

    The word ‘immediately’ is a key to keeping yourself safe. Often you will be tempted to ‘wait and see’. Or someone will say to you, “You’re over-reacting!” To keep safe, you have to give your instinct for danger priority, no matter what others say, or what your mind thinks. Your marker for danger is fear. Take good note of any feelings of disquiet or fear and act upon them.

    5. Keep together

    I’m sure you have seen videos of lions hunting in the wild. They never attack the leaders of a herd. They attack the stragglers. Human predators follow the same strategy, they target people who are on their own. Make sure to keep up when moving across town with another person or a group. Don’t fall behind, and don’t get separated.

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    6. Look big and show confidence

    I’m sure you’ve seen what cats do when they see a strange dog. They fluff up their fur and appear twice their size. If you sense danger, you need to do the same. Make sure your posture is upright. Let your arms swing by your sides but hold them away from your body a little in order to create a bigger profile.

    If you are feeling threatened, walk fast and confidently. If you are lost in a foreign city, never stop and study a map under a street lamp – it marks you as a possible victim. It’s better to go into a restaurant or club in order to find your directions. Always appear in charge of your actions.

    7. Treat people well

    If you are aggressive or nasty to others, they may respond with aggression or even violence towards you. Your best defense against danger is to be a friendly and helpful person.

    Safety is also heightened through knowledge. Make sure that you know which areas are dangerous and avoid them. Stick to larger streets with foot traffic, even if it takes longer to get to where you want to go.

    If you follow these seven safety rules, you will have a good chance of keeping yourself safe. And they won’t make you into a nervous or suspicious person. Your heightened alertness will enable you to be more relaxed and less tense.

    Finally, martial arts training – even for a short time – is a great way to learn not only how to defend yourself, but how to spot and avoid danger. It also gives you the self-confidence to know that you’re worth defending.

    The unexpected outcome of good martial art training is that it turns you into a peaceful person. The ultimate key to safety is to radiate peacefulness whilst staying alert.

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    Last Updated on September 18, 2019

    How to Take Notes Effectively: Powerful Note-Taking Techniques

    How to Take Notes Effectively: Powerful Note-Taking Techniques

    Note-taking is one of those skills that rarely gets taught. Almost everyone assumes either that taking good notes comes naturally or, that someone else must have already taught about how to take notes. Then, we sit around and complain that our colleagues don’t know how to take notes.

    I figure it’s about time to do something about that. Whether you’re a student or a mid-level professional, the ability to take effective, meaningful notes is a crucial skill. Not only do good notes help us recall facts and ideas we may have forgotten, the act of writing things down helps many of us to remember them better in the first place.

    One of the reasons people have trouble taking effective notes is that they’re not really sure what notes are for. I think a lot of people, students and professionals alike, attempt to capture a complete record of a lecture, book, or meeting in their notes — to create, in effect, minutes. This is a recipe for failure.

    Trying to get every last fact and figure down like that leaves no room for thinking about what you’re writing and how it fits together. If you have a personal assistant, by all means, ask him or her to write minutes; if you’re on your own, though, your notes have a different purpose to fulfill.

    The purpose of note-taking is simple: to help you work better and more quickly. This means your notes don’t have to contain everything, they have to contain the most important things.

    And if you’re focused on capturing everything, you won’t have the spare mental “cycles” to recognize what’s truly important. Which means that later, when you’re studying for a big test or preparing a term paper, you’ll have to wade through all that extra garbage to uncover the few nuggets of important information?

    What to Write Down

    Your focus while taking notes should be two-fold. First, what’s new to you? There’s no point in writing down facts you already know. If you already know the Declaration of Independence was written and signed in 1776, there’s no reason to write that down. Anything you know you know, you can leave out of your notes.

    Second, what’s relevant? What information is most likely to be of use later, whether on a test, in an essay, or in completing a project? Focus on points that directly relate to or illustrate your reading (which means you’ll have to have actually done the reading…). The kinds of information to pay special attention to are:

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    Dates of Events

    Dates allow you to create a chronology, putting things in order according to when they happened, and understand the context of an event.

    For instance, knowing Isaac Newton was born in 1643 allows you to situate his work in relation to that of other physicists who came before and after him, as well as in relation to other trends of the 17th century.

    Names of People

    Being able to associate names with key ideas also helps remember ideas better and, when names come up again, to recognize ties between different ideas whether proposed by the same individuals or by people related in some way.

    Theories or Frameworks

    Any statement of a theory or frameworks should be recorded — they are the main points most of the time.

    Definitions

    Like theories, these are the main points and, unless you are positive you already know the definition of a term, should be written down.

    Keep in mind that many fields use everyday words in ways that are unfamiliar to us.

    Arguments and Debates

    Any list of pros and cons, any critique of a key idea, both sides of any debate or your reading should be recorded.

    This is the stuff that advancement in every discipline emerges from, and will help you understand both how ideas have changed (and why) but also the process of thought and development of the matter of subject.

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    Images

    Whenever an image is used to illustrate a point, a few words are in order to record the experience.

    Obviously it’s overkill to describe every tiny detail, but a short description of a painting or a short statement about what the class, session or meeting did should be enough to remind you and help reconstruct the experience.

    Other Stuff

    Just about anything a professor writes on a board should probably be written down, unless it’s either self-evident or something you already know. Titles of books, movies, TV series, and other media are usually useful, though they may be irrelevant to the topic at hand.

    I usually put this sort of stuff in the margin to look up later (it’s often useful for research papers, for example). Pay attention to other’s comments, too — try to capture at least the gist of comments that add to your understanding.

    Your Own Questions

    Make sure to record your own questions about the material as they occur to you. This will help you remember to ask the professor or look something up later, as well as prompt you to think through the gaps in your understanding.

    3 Powerful Note-Taking Techniques

    You don’t have to be super-fancy in your note-taking to be effective, but there are a few techniques that seem to work best for most people.

    1. Outlining

    Whether you use Roman numerals or bullet points, outlining is an effective way to capture the hierarchical relationships between ideas and data. For example, in a history class, you might write the name of an important leader, and under it the key events that he or she was involved in. Under each of them, a short description. And so on.

    Outlining is a great way to take notes from books, because the author has usually organized the material in a fairly effective way, and you can go from start to end of a chapter and simply reproduce that structure in your notes.

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    For lectures, however, outlining has limitations. The relationship between ideas isn’t always hierarchical, and the instructor might jump around a lot. A point later in the lecture might relate better to information earlier in the lecture, leaving you to either flip back and forth to find where the information goes best (and hope there’s still room to write it in), or risk losing the relationship between what the professor just said and what she said before.

    2. Mind-Mapping

    For lectures, a mind-map might be a more appropriate way of keeping track of the relationships between ideas. Now, I’m not the biggest fan of mind-mapping, but it might just fit the bill.

    Here’s the idea:

    In the center of a blank sheet of paper, you write the lecture’s main topic. As new sub-topics are introduced (the kind of thing you’d create a new heading for in an outline), you draw a branch outward from the center and write the sub-topic along the branch. Then each point under that heading gets its own, smaller branch off the main one. When another new sub-topic is mentioned, you draw a new main branch from the center. And so on.

    The thing is, if a point should go under the first heading but you’re on the fourth heading, you can easily just draw it in on the first branch. Likewise, if a point connects to two different ideas, you can connect it to two different branches.

    If you want to neaten things up later, you can re-draw the map or type it up using a program like FreeMind, a free mind-mapping program (some wikis even have plug-ins for FreeMind mind-maps, in case you’re using a wiki to keep track of your notes).

    You can learn more about mind-mapping here: How to Mind Map: Visualize Your Cluttered Thoughts in 3 Simple Steps

    3. The Cornell System

    The Cornell System is a simple but powerful system for increasing your recall and the usefulness of your notes.

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    About a quarter of the way from the bottom of a sheet of paper, draw a line across the width of the page. Draw another line from that line to the top, about 2 inches (5 cm) from the right-hand edge of the sheet.

    You’ve divided your page into three sections. In the largest section, you take notes normally — you can outline or mind-map or whatever. After the lecture, write a series of “cues” into the skinny column on the right, questions about the material you’ve just taken notes on. This will help you process the information from the lecture or reading, as well as providing a handy study tool when exams come along: simply cover the main section and try to answer the questions.

    In the bottom section, you write a short, 2-3 line summary in your own words of the material you’ve covered. Again, this helps you process the information by forcing you to use it in a new way; it also provides a useful reference when you’re trying to find something in your notes later.

    You can download instructions and templates from American Digest, though the beauty of the system is you can dash off a template “on the fly”.

    The Bottom Line

    I’m sure I’m only scratching the surface of the variety of techniques and strategies people have come up with to take good notes. Some people use highlighters or colored pens; others a baroque system of post-it notes.

    I’ve tried to keep it simple and general, but the bottom line is that your system has to reflect the way you think. The problem is, most haven’t given much thought to the way they think, leaving them scattered and at loose ends — and their notes reflect this.

    More About Note-Taking

    Featured photo credit: Kaleidico via unsplash.com

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