Before you’d go into this post thinking I’m some kind of Krav Maga expert about to enlighten you on martial arts, let me assure you that I’m no expert. At all. At any kind of sport…I’m more of a couch potato, really. ~grin~
What I’d like to do is utilize Krav Maga’s basic principles to dealing with the evil inner critique. Julia Cameron calls the evil critique we have in our head The Censor, and in her book Finding Water, she recommends naming it something silly in order to lessen its power. So, if I’m talking about Cruella Von Poopy, know that I’m referring to my infernal inner evil critique.
A little about inner critiques:
Each one of us is born into a certain culture, a certain environment that have rules and etiquettes. We’re taught not to cross the road before looking both ways, we’re taught that walking around naked is a big no-no, that we need to shower every day and take care of our cleanliness, that it’s impolite to stare at strangers, that we must respect our elders, etc. There are rules for everything and they vary from society to society. And these rules often create conflict when they don’t align with our personal wants and needs.
That’s when some people go to therapy in order to first untangle the voices that create the conflicts, then find a way to solve them. For example, it could be that a man raised in a religious environment might have been taught from a young age that homosexuality is wrong, thus creating an imprint on his personality and a conflict between his needs and who he’s supposed to be. He might feel shame, he might feel disgust, he might feel not entitled to his own feelings…all because there are voices in his head, voices that have names and faces of the people from his circle, messing with his life.
And there might be a woman who grew up in an achievement-focused family. Doctors, and lawyers, and business wo/men who only want what’s best for the woman. They want her to study hard, to get a high education, to advance in the world and make something bright and shiny of herself, something worthy, something…else than what she wants for herself. What she really wants is to live in the country and grow her own organic ranch. She isn’t interested in a fancy degree and title, she isn’t interested in a career in science or law. She wants to live in peace with her animals and plots. But she has all of these voices in her head, voices that have good intentions but they’re messing with her life, with her ability to live the kind of life she always dreamed of.
So, rather than submitting to these voices, we might choose to fight them. And fight dirty, because there’s nothing as confusing as the pull of a river of people trying to carry you somewhere you don’t want to go. You need to hold on to every branch, every floating object, and kick against the stream like you’re life depends on it. Because it does.
Why Krav Maga:
In my humble opinion, we all have a Censor of one kind or another, and we all employ different methods to deal with it. Today, I chose Krav Maga’s principles because it’s a street fight martial art that realizes some fights are too messy to be handled with rules and etiquette and has one simple goal—keeping us safe, no matter what attacker we find ourselves facing. And the truth is, sometimes we’re our own worst enemy, and that’s when our fight, while inside our head, is no less real and dangerous then on the street facing a muggier. We don’t want to get in our own way. Sometimes that means digging deep and locating the source of our inner conflict, and sometimes it means employing a swift counter-attack by any means possible. That’s when the Krav Maga principles come into play.
I originally chose kissing for this letter in the a-z challenge, but after 4 drafts of posts at which Cruella Von Poopy sneered, I despaired and dumped the subject. Recognizing my inability to finish this post as the work of Von Poopy as opposed to me being a boring individual with nothing to innovate on the subject of kissing, I decided to try another word and see if I could squeeze out a few words. So, I went on a Google search, and after reading about the principles of Krav Maga, I decided I’ll embrace them to fight Von Poopy, because something had to give. I HAD to write something for this post. I gave my word. And I’m tired of letting Von Poopy win.
How to use the principles of Krav Maga to fight The Censor:
Counterattacking as soon as possible
There are three primal reactions when facing danger: freeze, flight, and fight. Freeze would be that first moment we recognize the threat, and then we usually choose between fight or flight. Now, assuming flight is not an option at the moment, because our attacker has us crowded in a corner with a gun aimed at our head, we need to find a way to defend ourselves. Some of us might opt to raise our hands and surrender—and that could be a viable, life-saving option. But if we’re talking about The Censor, a voice whispering mean things in our head, then we might opt to fight back. We could first raise our hands to block the worded low blow, but in Krav Maga the principle say we must change from defending ourselves to attacking as soon as possible.
Some Defense Methods against The Censor:
Stop whatever you’re doing and don’t engage. Take a walk to clear your head. Go on a Wikipedia binge and enjoy hopping from one listing to another. Play with the cat or dog. Fold the laundry and cross it of your tasks list. Take a few moments to procrastinate before you get back to the fight. It doesn’t have to be a long pause, especially if you have a deadline, but if you can walk away from the fight for a little while, that might mean the difference between a ruined project and a quick detour before reaching a milestone. That’s the benefit of having a fight in your own head, after all.
Fight Dirty—all bets are off and all clichéd allowed!
Make use of anything you have in your arsenal, rather than focusing on what’s not currently available. If you’re in a street fight, you use whatever object around you. A fist full of sand can blind the attacker. A branch turns into a club aimed to the head. A knee aimed at the solar plexus can bring a man down, and then a kick to the head can knock him out.
Cruella Von Poopy might say I have no grasp of plot arcs, even though I can show her the recipes I have from all the workshops I took on plots. She’s a mean attacker, and she fights dirty, catching me at the most annoying situations. So I’ve gotta be ready to use whichever scrap around me and turn it into an attacking machine. Like choosing a different word to defend myself from the attack on my post drafts, then writing a madcap post about Krav Maga, my take on how Censors are created, and how it’s healthy, and normal, and there are so many methods to prevent it from taking over….
Some Ready Tools to grasp at when fighting the censor:
Affirmations—Turn the Censor’s criticism into an affirmation. Julia Cameron advises to turn blurts (criticism) into affirmations. Take a moment and listen to the blurts, then turn the words around. If The Censor calls your work silly, write down an affirmative line stating that there’s no such thing as a perfect draft.
Go on a Pinterest binge—If The Censor says you’ll never finish a project, tell it you’re already half-way through! If you can’t manage to affirm yourself, try looking for inspiration on Pinterest. I have Pinterest boards that I feel with inspiring, motivational and funny quotes that make me smile and help me battle Von Poopy.
Freestyle writing—if I feel stuck because my brain is clogged with blurts and worries, I take my notebook and write whatever comes to mind. It can be a rant. It can be a stream of unconnected words. It can be an unintelligible poem that means absolutely nothing. The point is to clear my head, puke it all on the page until I feel clearer.
Do as much damage in as little time as possible –Go for the jugular
Do not engage in a fancy battle with your chest puffing up like a peacock showing off his skills. We want this fight to end fast. We want to be swift, economic, go in for the knockout punch and get the hell out of the scene of encounter. Because you can never know if the attackers have backup nearby, or how long it’ll take them to wake up from their temporary swoon. So, you knock ‘em out, then run like hell.
Some Swift Attack Weapons against The Censor
Artist dates—another one of Julia Cameron’a tools, and a very helpful one. The idea is to take your inner child artist out for a date. It doesn’t have to be something grand and time consuming. It can be 10 minutes of doodling, taking a moment to color in an adult (or children) coloring book, taking a trip to the nearby flower shop and gifting yourself with a colorful bouquets, or putting on an upbeat song and dancing for the sheer joy of it.
Call for back up—reach out a friend who’s good at seeing the silver lining, who’ll encourage you and fill you with a sense of optimism.
Laugh—watch a funny movie or a standup comedy show, read a joke, make use of the ample funny cats/dogs video circling around Facebook, or whatever appeals to your sense of humor.
Use your talent—we all have one. If you’re a writer, write a silly scene about The Censor and lessen its power. If you’re an illustrator, turn The Censor into a caricature. If you’re a song writer, write a song about it. Use your talent to make fun of The Censor.
Keep your eyes open—and watch out:
When engaging in a street fight, it’s paramount to be aware of everything that happens around us. You’re crowded in a corner. The attacker flashed out a knife. You froze. They used that moment to jump at you, but you moved in time and avoided being stabbed. Locating a sturdy-looking branch, you snatch it and club the attacker over the head. The attacker falls. Focused on trying to figure out if you knocked him out for good, you miss noticing another attacker coming from behind you. That’s why you need to keep watching your surroundings. You don’t want to be caught off guard.
So, I found another letter for this post. That stemmed Von Poopy for a few moments while I researched, but she came at me again the moment I started writing. It didn’t stop me from writing this time, because I kept watch for her. I scrambled for a weapon, remembered Julia Cameron’s advice about The Censor, and wrote. When Von Poopy called my post silly, I punched her by reasoning that we all have a Censor, and that brought on a sense that I’m not alone in this, and that maybe, by writing this strange post I might connect with someone else out there battling their own Censor.
In this sense, keeping my eyes open means acknowledging the Censor so I’d be able to fight it, then reaching out to others. Because we’re never alone in our fights, even if the Censor might swear that we are. The Censor lies. And if these voices in our head come from an outer source, then we could employ other voices to resolve the conflict. The kind and encouraging voices that push us forward and help us defend ourselves.