Leaving a dangerous situation is often the best, and simplest, choice for staying safe. Yet we don’t always think of it as an option. For example, as Irene van der Zande at Kidpower has pointed out, many of us spent our childhood years in school, being told we couldn’t leave the classroom. Thus we grew accustomed to handling all kinds of peer conflict without the option of leaving. This week, we’re going to re-acquaint ourselves with exits, and remind ourselves that, just as we can say “No” when we wish to, we can to choose to leave a place or situation if we decide that’s the safest option.
- When you go into a familiar space this week—your office, a store you visit regularly, a favorite coffeeshop—take a moment to close your eyes and visualize all the exits. Then open your eyes and check. Are there some you hadn’t remembered or noticed?
- When you find yourself in a new space, take time to identify the exits—not just doors, but windows, stairs, and other ways you could get out. How would you exit quickly if you needed to?
- In both kinds of spaces, take a moment to go through some of the exits you see. Cross the threshold; find out what’s on the other side.
Ask yourself: What might stop me from exiting this space if I needed to? Would I feel embarrassed? Would I feel I was giving up something I have a right to?
For the rest of the week, pay close attention to doorways and exits—in cars, trains and buses; private and public buildings; parks and courtyards. Also, think about other kinds of exits and safe places in your life. Leaving a bad relationship, for example, is often the healthy thing to do, but we may believe it isn’t an option. Exiting is a skill you can practice just like any other, and the more you do it in low-stakes situations, the more likely you’ll be to use it effectively in an emergency.
By Friday, you should have a greater awareness of the exit routes and options that surround you, and be better at identifying them quickly. I hope you’ll also have a deeper appreciation of how simple and effective it is to just leave a situation—once you’ve empowered yourself to do so.
Let’s use the next five days to make ourselves safer and more powerful! Check in below in the comments to share how things are going—or Tweet your responses to @SusanSchorn, hashtag #FearLessFridays. You can find all the FearLess Fridays activities on the main page.