No one wants to go about their daily lives looking for a “bad guy” around every corner. Nor is it necessary to do so in order to practice basic self preservation & situational awareness. One just has to watch the news to realize that bad things can & do happen to good people every day, and that it’s prudent to take responsibility for our own well-being as best we can.
What most individuals want is simply to be able to handle themselves appropriately regardless of what life throws their way. To do so requires planning ahead.
You don’t have to be paranoid to be smart!
STEP 1: CONSIDER THE “UGLIES”! Accepting the fact that violence could potentially happen to YOU or your LOVED ONES is a big step for many. Some people prefer not to think about the possibility at all (ostrich syndrome), others choose to adopt a fatalistic attitude (“if it happens, it happens…nothing I can do about it”)
At Train Like You Mean It!, we believe that, while you cannot control the actions of others, you can certainly increase your own odds of surviving a violent situation should you find yourself in harm’s way.
STEP 2: EVALUATE YOUR OWN PATTERNS OF BEHAVIOR
It’s easy to go through our daily routines on auto pilot. How many times have you driven to a destination, preoccupied with other things, and arrived with no real recollection of how you got from point A to point B. This level of “tune-out” is where accidents can most easily happen.
In addition, the increased use of cell phones/texting, IPODS & head phones has created a false sense of security in which an individual’s awareness of their surroundings is compromised by the distraction of multi-tasking in uncontrolled environments.
– texting while walking or driving
– running/walking with head phones/ear buds both in
– using your vehicle as an “office” in unsecured locations
STEP 3. CREATE YOUR OWN “SELF-PRESERVATION STRATEGY”
Situational Awareness is more of a MINDSET than a “hard skill”, but you can put some basic strategies into practice that will better prepare you to react appropriately, whether in avoiding danger or responding to it.
Identify the areas in your life that require greater vigilance (e.g. when you’re running/walking, when you’re in an unfamiliar environment, walking alone to your car at night, etc…) and take whatever practical steps you can to lessen the risk.
Formulate “contingency plans” in case of emergency. Figure out IN ADVANCE how you will respond to a threat.
Make a habit of knowing where the closest exits are in any venue (just like when you identify the closest emergency exits on a plane)
Practice “observation skills” (people-watching with purpose). Learn to trust your gut when something or someone feels “off”.
Educate yourself mentally & physically – fear often stems from lack of knowledge. Read up on the topic to understand the issues.
Cooper’s Colors are a simple system for categorizing Situational Awareness that applies equally well to civilians.
Ideally, you want to spend the majority of your waking time in the “Yellow” zone…mentally shifting depending on the situation or your environment.
“In condition yellow, you remain relaxed, but are aware of who and what is around you. This merely means that you are paying attention to the sights and sounds that surround you whether you are at home or moving in society. Condition yellow DOES NOT equate with paranoia or any other irrational fear of persons or places. Instead, you simply have moved your alertness to a level of attention that will prevent you from being totally surprised by the actions of another person.
While walking through an area you will loosely keep track of anyone behind you. When choosing a seat in a restaurant, you will position yourself to see the entrance or to minimize the number of people who might be behind you.
You don’t need to insist on securing the “gunfighter seat” which will put your back to a dead corner and your face to the entrance, because you are not anticipating a threat, you are merely conducting an inventory of your surroundings and the other people around you. You will also be running a cursory “what if” mental visualization of where a threat could appear and what your reaction(s) should be.
If you are attacked in condition yellow, it should not come as a total surprise. Your response to a threat should have been pre-planned to some extent, allowing you to simply run an existing plan rather than having to make one up quickly while under fire.”
For many of us, the biggest mental shift we need to make is the simple acceptance that this way of thinking needs to be a part of our lives at all. Try to think of it as insurance of a sort…you hope never to need to use it but you understand that, given the realities of this life, it is well worth the investment of your time & effort because you know you’ll regret it should the “unthinkable” happen and find you unprepared.