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Mental Loops

How getting stuck in your thinking sucks

To paraphrase Darwin, “those among us that will survive are not the biggest or the strongest, but the most adaptable to change.” What does that mean for self defense? Well, you don’t have to bench 315 pounds to avoid being raped, but you’ve got to be able to react to the situation in front of you.

A Mental Loop, psychologically speaking, refers you a person getting stuck in a certain line of thought. This happens with depression and anxiety and exacerbates its self. We’ve all done this at times. Our memories work a bit like file folders. Similar memories are connected neurologically to other similar memories. For example, if you think about getting kissed by your first boyfriend, then the hot make out session at prom, finally you may spontaneously remember being kissed by your husband for the first time too. These memories have a similar theme. With anxiety and depression you keep pulling memories and thoughts out of file folder that would be better kept shut. You might pull up the memory of being dumped, followed by a thought of worthlessness, culminating with memories of your puppy dying and thoughts of being a terrible care giver too. It’s a dastardly loop if you get stuck in the wrong place.

Self Defense! Stay on track! Well, you’ve got to know how your brain works if you have any hopes of making it work while a gun is at your head. So, your BRAIN ON FEAR (blog coming soon) talks about how fear and adrenaline can kind of make you a dumb animal. You don’t think very well, you react. So mental loops happen, and happen rapidly. Your frontal lobe is pushed aside for the quicker reacting sister, Amygdala (AMY). Amy reacts quick but leaves the thinking in the dust. So if she has one thought, she tries to keep at it. If you think “KICK EM IN THE NUTS” is the tried and true technique that will save you in a self defense situation, AMY there, is screaming “KICK EM KICK EM KICK EM” even if the bad guys doesn’t give a damn about his man parts. That’s a loop. And loops can be dangerous.

Let me give you another example. I know a police officer. He is a great officer who is kind enough to share his stories to make me a better educator. Tim is a very nice officer. Do you know what that means? Idiots who are being arrested think they can get tough with Tim. Well, he has a job to do, and does it well. So he, more often than other gruffer officers has to involve himself in combat with people breaking the law. Tim got a new pepper spray device. He wanted to be able to use it the next time some dumb criminal tried to fight him or another officer. He was ready. Non lethal, effective, smart. He was ready.Quickly enough there was a large brawl. An assailant was on the ground fighting another office. Tim swooped in ready to pepper spay the bad guy and save the day. BUT, wait. He didn’t want to spray the officer. Even when they separate somewhat in the scuffle he didn’t want to spray the officer. He kept waiting for his shot, the perfect time to use the spray. In the mean time, another officer got out the taser, quickly stopped the brawl, arrested the guy and went on with his inevitable paperwork. Tim had a taser too. He could have ended the brawl earlier but he kept looking for a time to use the pepper spray. He fell prey to the Mental Loop. Amy kept yelling “SPRAY HIM BRO” and they both forgot there were other ways to stop the battle.

So we learn. We learn how our thinking fails us sometimes. We work to not fall prey to ridged thinking. We don’t train rigidly. None of the physical self defense I teach has steps. There is no, “he punches, then do x, y, followed by z”. Because in the real damn world and Y doesn’t work, you get stuck thinking and he punches you in your damn teeth. We learn to react fluidly. We literally roll with the punches.

Finally I shall leave you with homework (NO, BOO, HISS)

Be aware of your thinking. Quit beating a dead horse waiting for it to carry you. Jump on the donkey right next to you.

(816) 349-9205

Raymore Mo

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