By Eileen Turay of Liv & Leen
Ever get the weird feeling someone is staring at you and then you turn to look and you were right? What about when you’re pumping gas and get a feeling someone is approaching you… and then he does. It’s like you can literally feel another body coming closer to you. He only asks for money for gas, but you still feel strange. Yet, many women in this scenario will hunch over a little, stare away or look through him and casually make up an excuse about not carrying cash, hoping he will just leave. All you can think about is how your children are in the car and you can’t wait to get back in and drive off quickly.
There’s a book called The Gift of Fear by Gavin De Becker. It was recommended to me by a professor years ago (and like every REALLY GOOD book recommendation, I have not given myself any time to read it in between all the Netflix series my husband and I watch). I PROMISE it’s on my to-do list, but it basically speaks to the idea that you can save your own life by trusting your gut instincts. As a mom, these instincts seem to be even more Spidey-sense heightened, but I feel like many people push them aside for fear of being offensive.
So hear me out a minute because I can see how many people reading this would say, “No way… I always listen to my gut,” or “I’m pretty safe”, etc. And in a gas station with a stranger, maybe that’s true; but what about a neighbor or a family member? What do you do when the “creepy feeling” is coming from a non-stranger?
I took a self-defense class years ago, and I remember two things: the heal of my palm to the nose and the sentence the instructor spoke to us. She said that women are usually so afraid of being offensive or hurting someone’s feelings that they will actually put their own safety at risk to make sure not to say anything hurtful or ruffle any feathers. We will actually PROTECT the person who may be there to cause us harm.
SO STOP IT!
If you feel icky when your neighbor is around your child, don’t let her go near him. If you don’t feel comfortable when your uncle asks for a hug from you, DON’T hug him!!! If you feel uneasy about someone asking your child questions at the grocery store (because it feels different from the typical in-line banter), excuse yourself. YOU FEEL WEIRD for a reason. SO listen to yourself. NEVER feel bad for making choices that protect you or your child. There is nothing wrong with putting your safety over “that guy’s” feelings.
It is never too early to teach your children about these lessons. My daughter loves to talk to anyone who will acknowledge her in public places, and I have to remind her often that it’s only okay when I’m around. Unfortunately, there are really bad people in the world.
There are also a lot of really great people.
Even though she won’t know the difference in a way she can verbalize to me, I have seen her ‘get the feeling’ on her own. The random times a stranger talks to her and she doesn’t openly share what she ate for lunch or what her friend’s name is, I have witnessed her experiencing her own intuition. She even gets quieter and closer to me (which is NOT NORMAL for my kid, who has such an outgoing disposition). She does her nervous pick-at-her-lip that she saves for when she is truly scared or anxious. There have even been times in those moments I have actually asked, “Why are you being so shy?” as if to protect her… and the stranger’s feelings.
Then it hits me. She is doing exactly what she should be: trusting her gut and not sparing someone’s feelings at her safety’s cost.
I don’t know when it changes. When do we go from a child who listens to every fear to the adult who brushes them all away? We need to remember that sometimes our fears are what keep us safe—while saving face won’t ever do the same.
Take care of yourself. Take care of your family.
This post was originally published on Liv & Leen.
About Eileen Turay
Eileen has her Masters of Science in Counseling with a school specialization, she worked with children with Autism for a few years using ABA (applied behavior analysis), and she has taught at both preschool and elementary levels. (She’s even put in quite a few years waiting tables…don’t knock it till you try it 😉 She is currently working as a School Counselor at an Elementary School and is loving everyday. Eileen is from a big family, making leadership naturally forced on her as a necessary skill, being the oldest of five kids and second oldest of 22 cousins. Follow her blog at Liv & Leen.