The Escalation Cycle
Ego Defense vs. Self Defense
by James Bullock

Ego vs. Self Defense

Originally posted in The War Room

In 2010, over 60% of violent crimes were aggravated assault, making it the most common violent crime committed in America.

The truth of the matter is that many confrontations that escalate to being physically violent could have been easily avoided.

When things begin to get heated there is an escalation cycle.

A verbal insult leads to posturing, posturing leads to shoving (or other ritualistic physical movement), and shoving finally leads to someone getting attacked.

This cycle is controlled and ignited by the ego. More times than not we choose to “participate” in this process simply because of the false perception that we are standing up for ourselves. There is a difference between standing up for yourself and actively escalating a situation that leads to a violent altercation.

So what do you do if you find yourself in front of someone who is slinging colorful insults and expletives your way? I would suggest you do your best to not participate in further escalating the non-situation into a potential violent situation. In many cases not participating is all the de-escalation you will need.

This doesn’t mean DO or SAY nothing, it simply means leave your ego out of what you say and do. Remove yourself from the situation, if you actually wronged another human being then apologize, if you were wronged then swallow your pride and go on (I am not talking about if they tried to physically assault you, that falls into the category of personal protection) . Demanding or expecting an apology is not worth someone getting hurt.

Two best ways to de-escalate a situation is not yelling and not saying the first, second, and maybe even the third thing that comes to mind. In other words no emotionally based responses.

Remember that personal protection has NOTHING to do with defending your pride and your ego.


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About the Author

James Bullock is the head coach for Irondom Performance Systems and Combative Sciences. He's written programs for athletes and non-athletes alike, including numerous world record holders in various sports. Combative Sciences was found in 1999 and is the culmination of decades of martial arts training. 

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