To use our self-defense schemas, we must evaluate them properly. This is hampered by our tendency to resist or ignore anything that challenges our preconceptions. To enhance our schemas, we must keep an open mind and stay curious about life. To improve your own schemas, you should check for the following:
Accurate Schemas. Schemas must contain accurate information. You may ensure this by learning about violent and predatory situations, how they happen, where and when they happen, who perpetrate them, how the perpetrators operate, etc. This involves learning to recognize predatory patterns and developing skills and strategies to deal with them.
Experience is built by using what we have learned. When awareness and prevention strategies are constantly used, they become habits that soon become unconscious and automatic. Physical and scenario-based training drills help build self-defense habits. Beliefs affect your perceptions and behavior, so beliefs should be real and functional not based upon fantasy. Realistically evaluate your beliefs about your ability to defend yourself and change them if necessary until they accurately reflect your skills.
Missing Schemas. When you lack knowledge or experience in a particular area, you also lack a schema about that area. Missing self-defense schemas result in naivety about safety, which may result in people being oblivious to signs of danger. Someone with a missing schema is more likely to panic, freeze, or react ineffectively when confronted by a self-defense situation.
Assumed Schemas. An assumed schema occurs when a schema is present but it is associated with an experience that is flawed, inaccurate, or erroneous. Assumed self-defense schemas are more prevalent than you might think. Even trained martial artists often hold an unrealistic perception of what constitutes a "real fight." They falsely equate a violent fight with sparring, or sparring techniques with the ability to defend themselves. Sometimes untrained people successfully defend themselves from assault better than those with formal training because they do not have flawed schemas. They have limited, but realistic, schemas so they rely more on their basic instincts.