What a wonderful article. I do pretty well looking out for myself in the "real" world, having learned back in the 4th grade how to cope with nasty classmates; but I do find that aikido has helped me with the really big conflicts. I stay calmer when someone attacks me (physically on the mat or verbally in local politics or whatever), and it doesn't throw me off-balance like it used to.
The hardest part of my aikido training right now is kuzushi done by bumping into uke, because I was taught growing up that you just don't DO things like that. It's funny which things bump up against my "programming." Before this, I couldn't manage to make contact doing atemi because "girls don't hit." It's amazing what I can learn to do when I
put my mind to it!
I have a feeling "This is MY mat!" would do me a world of good; I believe I'll think that to myself in class next time we're swapping throws.