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Who Are You? Self-Awareness is Self-Defense

Darling, You’re Worth It. Really.

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Okay, I’m about to show my age with this question right out of the gate. Who remembers the L’Oreal Preference Hair Color ad’s tagline from the 1970s? Yep, “Because I’m worth it.” It was the cusp of the women’s movement, a tumultuous time, and in 1971 a young woman copywriter named Ilon Specht encapsulated the brand’s desire to join the cry to “emancipate women from the housewife persona of the ‘50s,” according to L’Oreal’s press release (see article, below).

It was a revolutionary move because prior to that ad, most advertising featuring women basically used them as props to showcase products. Here, L’Oreal not only had a woman speak, but she also declared she was worth it (in this case, dyeing her hair).

It’s a great bit of advertising, certainly a catchy phrase. Most of us who heard it growing up, and over the years saw it morph to “You’re worth it,” and finally its current iteration, “We’re worth it.” But darling, you’re worth so much more than being able to change your hair color. You’re worth protecting, and once you get that idea firmly established in your heart and mind, you’ve got a super secret self-defense tool worth treasuring – and maintaining.

It Starts With Self-Awareness

What does it mean to know you’re worth it? And actually believe it? Good questions! The answer is simple, but not necessarily easy. It starts with an accurate understanding of who you are. Or, more precisely, self-awareness.

What is self-awareness? Here’s a short and sweet definition, courtesy of Cambridge Dictionary:

UK  /ˌself.əˈweə.nəs/ US  /ˌself.əˈwer.nəs/
 good knowledge and judgment about yourself

Self-awareness requires a certain amount of objectivity, which most of us don’t naturally have about ourselves. So much of what we believe about our identity and worth are rooted in messages we’ve absorbed from even before we became self-aware, all the way up to what happened today and why. To get a hold of this concept, let’s start with a few basic questions:

  1. How would you describe yourself in a few short sentences?
  2. What do you think of yourself?
  3. Do you think you’re worth protecting?

As you can probably guess, these are foundational questions as you ponder what it means to protect yourself. I mean, if you don’t think you’re worth protecting, why bother coming to self-defense class? Maybe you realize others think you’re worth protecting (your spouse, your kids, your friends). But what about you? If you could zoom out and look at yourself from another’s perspective, who would you see? Would you like that lady standing there? Could you develop compassion for her? If not, why not?

Now if you can muster a healthy caring about that gal looking back at you in the mirror, you can build on it. 

Not only are you worth protecting (it’s true, you know), but you are worth taking the time to train so you can protect the body you get to live in. Do you see where we’re going here? If so, you’ll probably guess where self-awareness leads us. 

Yep, right into self-confidence.

As you can probably guess, these are foundational questions as you ponder what it means to protect yourself. I mean, if you don’t think you’re worth protecting, why bother coming to self-defense class? Maybe you realize others think you’re worth protecting (your spouse, your kids, your friends).

What Is Self-Confidence?

Let’s explore the concept of self-confidence. Here’s a well-said encapsulation from an article published in Psychology Today (and linked below): “Confidence is a belief in oneself, the conviction that one has the ability to meet life’s challenges and to succeed—and the willingness to act accordingly.”  

Now it’s not pretending we’re all that, and acting accordingly. It’s taking a realistic inventory of our actual abilities and experience. It’s assessing who we really are and being confident in the fact-based answers we find.

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And man oh man, once we get that down, once we’ve taken stock and said, “I can do this or that, I need help in these areas, I’m growing in these other areas” – well, let’s just say we carry ourselves differently. And here’s where the whole self-defense aspect comes in.

Because successfully assessing ourselves leads to confidence in certain abilities and the humility to realize where we need to put the work in to grow. It undergirds every aspect of our training, from throwing punches to taking an attacker to the floor, to shooting them a look that says, “Don’t mess with me.”

Knowing who we are and what we’re really like bolsters our inner strength. We stand a little taller. We appreciate ourselves and actually want to protect the bodies we live in. We don’t let anyone walk all over us, while maintaining a healthy humility with everyone we meet. It’s an amalgam healthy, happy, growing people have. It’s something we Tigresses cultivate.

But Wait – How is Believing You’re Worth It a Self-Defense Tool?

Picture this: Marilyn’s in her mid-thirties and works in downtown Wilmington. Every evening she shuffles the three blocks from her office to the bus stop, head down, focusing on another crappy day at work and what she can throw together for dinner. She literally bumps into people sometimes, and every time she does, she mutters, “I’m so sorry,” while on the inside she thinks, “Stupid me, I’m always bumping into people.” She believes she deserves the bad stuff that keeps happening to her.

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Beth’s also in her mid-thirties, works in the same office building as Marilyn, and rides the same bus. She walks head up, smiling at anyone who catches her eye. As she purposely strides toward the bus stop she’s scanning the area, thinking,  Who’s here? What’s going on? Anything strange I need to pay attention to? She believes she’s worth protecting and works to make sure she can defend herself if need be.

Now tell me, which woman is the mugger hiding in the shadows going to choose as his victim?

You guessed it. And that’s how believing you’re worth protecting is a self-defense tool. But as with any other skill, we need to see where we are and grow from there. It begins with developing a sense of self.

How We Train Sense of Self

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Here’s where self-awareness training comes in. At Tigress’ Roar we begin by taking a look inside. Who are you? What makes you — you? How do you describe yourself? Of course there are a variety of responses. When someone asks us to describe ourselves, we may think about age, occupation, hobbies, interests… but under all the surface stuff everyone sees, who are you? 

We work to get to the core of our current understanding of who we are. And it takes time, so we take our time, as long as it takes to get there.

The next step is asking, How do you feel about yourself? This part can be so hard. So many of us don’t like ourselves very much. We’ve imbibed thousands of messages over the years, experienced so many events leading us to believe:

  • I’m small
  • I’m weak
  • I’m bad
  • I’m incapable

And it’s so easy to believe the negative, isn’t it? Especially about ourselves. Maybe we struggle with pride, but even that can stem from insecurities and fear. Because what if we’re not worthy of protecting? What if what we’ve heard tearing us down from the inside-out all our lives is true?

But we need to realize, somehow get the message deep down inside so we can step out of the shadows into what’s true:

  • I’m strong
  • I’m loved
  • I’m valuable 
  • I’m worth protecting

Read that last one again. You’re worth protecting. Yes, you.

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Let’s Bring This Home

Let’s keep it real. None of us wants to believe we need this. Deep down we have to face what’s true – we can’t just go where we want and do what we want, when we want, where we want – safely. But we can do what we can do. There’s really no excuse not to. 

So we choose to learn how to value and protect our bodies, our minds, our souls. This begins with healthy self-awareness, leading to self-confidence as we show up and do the work to protect what we have. And by extension any and all of the precious souls in our care.

Because we’re worth it. You’re worth it.

You belong here, and we look forward to meeting you on the mats.

Join us.


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