The Unreliable Guide to…Aggression
The Unreliable Guide almost got into a physical fight last week, and we’re still not quite sure how it happened. In the space of ten seconds, the world transformed from typical commuter tedium to Mad Max. He drove like an idiot, we responded with the rude finger, he stopped, got out of his car and came towards us, fists clenched, with the red mist of hate in his eyes.
In these situations adrenaline floods the system: it’s fight or flight time. We chose flight and felt cowardly later, but it turns out it’s the best thing you can do. Former Navy SEAL Cade Courtley’s Seal Survival Guide is full of great tips on how to fight, but stresses, “Don’t stay engaged if you can escape. The moment you have an opening, take it and leave the scene, because fights can change instantly and drastically.”
To paraphrase the old saying, he who knows when to run away lives to fight another day. On the road, in the pub, even at the beach, aggression is everywhere. But fear not, The Unreliable Guide has some tips on how to respond to dickheads.
Prepare, but take flight
Cade Courtley’s guide gets you ready to survive anything from an avalanche to a car-jacking, but one of his simplest pieces of advice is to practise what he calls ‘combat breathing’. “You breathe in for four seconds, you breathe out for four seconds, and it’s something as simple as that.” He suggests we remember, every time we get into our car, that the road is a dangerous environment and practise ‘defensive and evasive driving’. That means allowing the hot head in and not giving people the finger, even if they deserve it. The other thing Courtley suggests is that we ask ourselves what ‘winning’ this fight will actually achieve? If it’s rescuing a loved one or saving yourself from mortal danger then that’s a tangible result. But what if your ‘win’ simply proves a point? Then you have lost the battle for inner peace and lowered yourself to dickhead level.
But sometimes in life we have to fight, most often to protect our loved ones. If you do find yourself in that situation, if running away is not an option, then his advice is this: Hit hard and fast and then run away. As fast as you can. Don’t ever imagine that a fight will lead to the changing of your opponent’s mind, opinions or behaviour. Unless you kill them of course, and that is rather frowned upon in our society.
Take time to recover
After your situation, assuming you’re not dead or unconscious, you’ll probably be rather shaky, regardless of whether you chose to fight or fly. Adrenaline is a powerful natural hormone that stimulates the body like amphetamine. It’s produced to keep you alive. Your air passages dilate, providing your muscles with the oxygen they need to leap into action. Your blood vessels contract and redirect blood towards your major muscle groups and your heart and lungs. This is a massive biological response and, like any drug, it will take you a while to come down. Also, just like any come-down, it won’t make you a nice person to be around. You might have mood swings, aggressive reactions, indigestion and nightmares that last for a few days or even weeks, months or years, depending on the severity of your event.
Finally, The Unreliable Guide suggests you maintain constant vigilance in looking out for dickheads. Don’t go where they gather, don’t fuel their madness with a rude gesture or comment – the excuse to punch on is what they crave. These primitive beings are out there and the best thing you can do is avoid them. Don’t think you can re-educate them, but be assured that these people are the architects of their own demise. They will get what’s coming to them, just don’t, whatever you do, become one too.