How to Survive Black Friday with Basic Self Defense

Black Friday––that one day where it seems almost everybody is out seeking the best deals on all sorts of gifts for the holidays. It can be a maddening, chaotic day to get things done, but with some common sense, patience and basics borrowed from self defense principles, Black Friday can be managed with little stress.


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    Don't get involved. Principle number one of any self defense is to avoid the situation in the first place. Do you really need to buy more stuff for yourself and the others in your life? Why not consider giving them experiences instead, finding ways to help them add memories rather than stuff to their lives? Tell them you're taking them somewhere amazing for the holidays this year or you're going to reclaim the space in your house by throwing out the existing clutter so that everyone can have a better home atmosphere, with less mess holding every household member back from a more fulfilling home life.
    • Another avoidance technique is to use the online option. Many stores have moved online for the deals on Black Friday. Keep out of the fray with a few mouse clicks instead. Be sure to get in early as the stocks will move fast. However, you can get up early (or stay up late) and then roll right back into bed after the purchasing!
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    Have the right frame of mind. Before even setting out, putting yourself in the right frame of mind is vital to your reactions to annoying and even aggressive things happening once you're shopping. Frame of mind is an important element of effective self defense, so make it your number one priority too. Make a pact with yourself that you won't get upset if the items you would like are sold out, in someone else's hands already or only obtainable after waiting in a very long queue. Keep your sense of humor and perspective at the ready throughout the entire shopping experience.
    • Remind yourself that it's awfully easy to think we're in the right in the heat of the moment. However, we're only "right" because we decide that it's so and unfortunately, we're often very wrong when our anger or irritation drive us foremost. Prepare yourself to think rationally during the shopping expedition by asking yourself one single question each time you feel hot under the collar: "Am I thinking this through rationally?"
    • Understand that you will encounter unreasonable people. There will be other shoppers who will yell and compete over the items on the shelves. They will not give up, and will likely resort to any measure, no matter how low, to get what they want. You may not be able to get everything on your shopping list, and you may have to live with that. Even if you can't get someone what they really want, you can find an alternative. If your nephew Tim really wanted that new video game, but he's also an avid skateboarder, buy him a shiny new helmet or something that he'll appreciate and enjoy.
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    Keep things simple. The more things on your list, the more things you allow yourself to be enticed by and the more things you expect from the Black Friday shopping expedition, the more complicated your experience becomes and the greater likelihood that you'll bust a fuse and lose your sense of perspective and purpose. This is just a shopping outing, not a war, not a fight, not a reason to harm others. Some things to help keep the shop simple include:
    • Have a short, meaningful list. Thinking under pressure will result in poor purchases that you'll regret and a list helps steer you more in the direction of what you know you want rather than being swayed by buying things that just happen to be in front of you while queuing.
    • Avoid going to Black Friday without a clue what you want, just hoping you'll grab yourself a bargain. If you don't know what it is you want, you definitely don't need it. Stay home and enjoy a day of playing games, reading or chatting with family and friends instead.
    • Avoid being swayed by promises of "add-ons". This complicates your shopping experience––unless you've already researched such add-ons prior to the shop, avoid them as you can't be sure they're useful or needed in the busyness of a Black Friday shop. You can always come back later.
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    Fuel your body to maintain energy. Eat a healthy, hearty breakfast and take along energy bars. Stop for lunch if you're still around at lunch. Do not deprive yourself of nutritious foods; you need them to keep you calm, centered and thoughtful.
    • Breakfast should contain both carbohydrates and protein to give you longer lasting energy.
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    Avoid conflicts over parking spaces. There is no need to start an argument or a fight with another person because you both want to park right in front of the store. Keep things simple and be prepared to walk some to get to the store; it won't kill you and it'll probably do you some good to get more exercise after Turkey Day.
    • See the positive side of parking far away––you're closer to a quick exit.
    • If you do buy something large, ask the store if it has a loading dock you can drive to or if someone from the store can help you. You might even ask them to store the item until the next day, so that you can return and collect it when less people are around.
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    Move around carefully. In aisles crowded with people and merchandise, it is all too easy to bump into a tense shopper who will start an argument with you just because they're frazzled, tired and overwhelmed by crowds and bright lights. Be considerate but assertive, remembering that "excuse me" is a great tool. Everyone is stressed out, and being polite will make everybody's day easier.
    • Being assertive won't always get you what you want but it is the backbone of a good self defense approach. Conflict tends to occur or escalate when assertiveness is not used, all because the attacker often senses that you're either prone to responding aggressively or timidly. Neither response is appropriate; instead, simply be ready to apologize using manners and avoid allowing yourself to turn it into an opportunity to vent your own frustrations on some unsuspecting, equally overwhelmed person.
    • If someone attempts to start an argument with you, don't be drawn into it. Say something simple as "You may be right, I'm sorry" or simply agree to disagree. Remind yourself that you don't know this person, so you have nothing to prove to them by way of point scoring and that there are no relationship agendas involved!
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    Use your manners. Self defense involves manners because manners are a way of deflecting conflict. Say thank you when someone holds a door open for you or picks up something you've dropped. Say please when you want something from another shopper or a retail assistant. And before leaning over to grab that bargain, explain yourself with an excuse me and a brief explanation of what you're about to do. The use of manners will go a long way to defusing anger and avoiding conflict and you set an example for others who might not know better or who have forgotten their own manners for the day.
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    If shopping is something that bores you, find something to occupy yourself. While your Aunt Pattie looks at handbags or your spouse looks at Wi-Fi antennas, think of a place in the store that you would like to browse, whether it's the electronics section or the designer coat aisle. Ask whoever you're with to find you there after they find what they need, and head over to where you want to be.
    • Again, in this case you might like to resort to the avoidance technique outlined above. Either convince this person to leave you at home, or if you do wish to go along for your own reasons, do your brief shopping and then ask them to find you later in a cafe or bookstore.
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    Use time out. If it's all getting to be too much, time out is an honored and effective method within anger management. Anger and frustration can lead to irrationality and abnormal behavior. Not only is that likely to leave you shame-faced but you could harm either yourself or someone else if you act on angry feelings––and all over silly products! If you do feel hot under the collar, pull yourself out of the crazy environment and go somewhere quiet to chill. It might be a cafe, a bookstore, outside, going back home, whatever. Just do whatever it needs to restore your sense of sanity and normalcy.
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    Enjoy yourself. This may sound trite and unachievable but if you approach the Black Friday shopping experience with a Zen mindset, a willingness to be polite and assertive and a readiness to drop the chase should it prove futile, you can use this experience to people watch and set a good example through your own good example. Use this as a learning tool and maybe to assert your willpower over not buying things. Count up all the things you wanted but did not buy and congratulate yourself for overcoming consumer cravings and neediness for goods at the end of the trip.


  • Think charity and buy bargains to give to your local charity as part of your generous and thoughtful mindset.
  • Leave your coat in the car. You don't want to have to carry it and you are likely to get really overheated wearing it in the crowds.
  • Black Friday is generally for people with a big shopping list. If you're out looking for just a game, shoes, etc., visit individual stores that sell specific items, such as Gamestop or Foot Locker, not all-in-one stores like Wal-Mart. Doing so can help you to avoid getting injured!
  • Dress comfortably. Wear clothing that allows for both comfort and free movement. This isn't the day to be trying out your new high heels.
  • The most effective way to survive Black Friday is to go in the morning, when people are less crazy. Or better yet, don't participate at all. Most of the Black Friday deals are just hype.
  • Keep your hands free by having your wallet or purse either in a pocket or a backpack.
  • Stay calm. If you're panicking about that tie for Cousin Fred and that game for your son, and now it's getting late and––take a breather, and think about what you'll do. There is no sense trying to sprint around to every store in the mall, or trying to race into that great parking space, only to get into a car accident. Remind yourself that just as there is always another taxicab around the corner, there are always more products coming off the production line and you'll get something eventually, even though it may be another day.


  • Think seriously whether you really want to involve yourself in Black Friday sales at all. Is the need for goods so much more important than peace, calm and staying sensible?
  • If you find yourself caught up in a stampede, initially go with the surge. As it moves, slowly work your way sideways to an open space. If you fall, curl into a ball and try to crawl in the direction of the crowd.

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