BY RACHEL CHEESEMAN, FOUNDER OF STREET SMART SELF DEFENSE
"When you're safe at home you wish you were having an adventure; when you're having an adventure, you wish you were safe at home." --[Thorton Wilder (1897–1975) pivotal figure in literary history of the 20th century.]
In lieu of the recent COVID-19 outbreak, the first line of this famous quote couldn’t be truer than what it is right now! Much of the world is spending a lot more time in their homes these days (myself included). While I think it’s a great opportunity for us to reconnect with our family, assess our life purpose and perhaps work on those “weekend projects” that we never have time to fit in, it’s also a time of great fear and uncertainty. Fear of finances, fear of our jobs, fear of contracting the COVID-19 virus. What used to be a simple trip to the grocery store has now become a stress-filled event of anxiety; only to find empty shelves and no toilet paper! What drives this panic? There’s no actual food or toilet paper shortage.
Fear of the Unknown
They say we are living in “uncertain times”. In the world of self-defense instruction, this phrase translates into “fear of the unknown”. Many women I’ve trained in self-defense have an intense fear of being attacked from behind. Why? Because it’s a perpetrator they can’t see. Right now, our world is fighting against a microscopic virus that nobody can visually see with the naked eye. This, in turn, fuels the fear of what you can’t see. This classic panic reaction feeds off the overwhelming sense of the unknown. That’s why we have empty shelves at the grocery store. It’s also partially a “control” response. Physically buying extra for the “just in case” scenario calms the nerves. But it’s only a temporary fix.
Changing the Way You May be Thinking
The best way to survive a life-changing event is to alter the way you think. Look at the big picture. Stop vesting your time in reading body counts. The media always focuses on the most negative and grim details. Think about stories regarding gunshot victims. My past students in self-defense have always had an intense fear of gun defense scenarios. The reason is because the media recycles stories of death concerning attacks with guns 24/7. You seldom hear about survivors, when in fact there are many. Statistically, survivors far outweigh those who have died from gunshot wounds. The media just doesn’t let you hear about them. It’s the same idea with this virus. Every day, it’s a body count that doesn’t include who walked out of the hospital alive and/or who never went to the hospital because it wasn’t necessary. I’m in no way saying that the virus isn’t serious, what I am saying is to put it in perspective for the sake of your own sanity.
We will Rise!
Right now, the CDC estimates the overall death rate from COVID-19 is 1.38%. Of course, the older you are and the more complications you have medically, the death rate number is higher. But for most of us who are healthy, it means we have over a 98% chance of surviving! Yes, of course, there is a chance we can die, but the much greater percentage is in our favor to live. Obviously, we need to follow all the necessary preventive, common-sense measures to protect ourselves and our family from this serious virus; just like we should in the realm of self-defense. However, we need to adjust our way of thinking to prevent panic. The survival odds are stacked in our favor. Nothing is a guarantee in life, but as long as we are doing our best to protect ourselves and our families, these actions should help to lessen the fear we have of the unknown. It’s time to take control of the word FEAR and turn it into F.E.A.R. “Face Everything and Rise!!” Stay safe and healthy everyone!
Rachel Cheeseman has practiced martial arts for over 32 years, and has a 2nd degree black belt in Chinese Kung Fu Karate Self Defense and a 1st degree black belt in Krav Maga. Following the rape of her sister in her off-campus college apartment, she founded Street Smart Self Defense Academy in Erie, PA to empower women's personal safety. She is a certified instructor for the national full-contact self-defense program “Model Mugging” and a certified instructor for MUNIO Self Defense Workshops. Rachel is also a member of and former seminar instructor for the American Women’s Self Defense Association, and she has been inducted into the USA Martial Arts Hall of Fame, Action Martial Arts Magazine Hall of Honors and the World Karate Union Hall of Fame.