Situational awareness and mental preparedness. Those two things could end a fight before it begins – and that is exactly what you want. Even if you have the tools and skills to defend yourself, fighting your way out of a bad situation is not the desired outcome. The desired outcome is avoidance of the fight in the first place.
An awareness of your surroundings, and a realization on the part of the predator that you are aware of your surroundings, could be all that’s needed to encourage him to move on to a “better” victim – ie. the woman texting while walking through the grocery store parking lot, completely oblivious to activity around her, makes for far easier prey that the woman who is completely aware, focused and ready to respond to a threat.
Being aware means being alert to activity and people around you, with the level of alertness depending on what circumstances you are in. Some circumstances just require a higher level of awareness than others. If you are walking through an unfamiliar neighborhood, you level of awareness must be much higher than if you're visiting the home of a friend - so that awareness level is determined by the potential for a threat to present itself. If you enter that unfamiliar neighborhood with the same awareness level you display in that friend's home, you are setting yourself up to not recognize potential threats, not see your escape options, and not have the time to respond.
We will go into more detail on these various levels of awareness in next week's post, which will cover the Cooper Color Code of Mental Awareness.
It goes beyond just situational awareness, it’s about mental preparedness also. If you haven’t mentally rehearsed or prepared for the action you will take if under threat, you are more likely to freeze or panic. For example, predators take all forms. Are you mentally prepared to defend yourself against an adversary who is a teenager? Or a woman? If you always envision that the threat will come from a 6-foot, 250lb male, how will it affect your ability to respond quickly when the threat comes from a 14-yr old, 150lb female? In being aware of your surroundings and the people within your surroundings, don’t isolate your focus to any pre-defined mental image that you have of who that predator or threat might be.
When you are distracted, eg. the texting scenario described above, unloading groceries from your cart, talking on the phone while walking on the street, you are pre-occupied and unaware. Predators like distracted victims, as it gives them the advantage of surprise. Distraction limits your awareness, your ability to respond and your time to respond, and makes you an easier victim.
The sooner you identify a potential threat, the more options you have to respond to it. You know how when you buy a new car, all of a sudden you notice all the other cars that are the same model, that you never used to notice before? That’s because that new car is now the focus of your attention. Make your personal safety the focus of your attention, so that you can develop a habit that allows you to quickly notice something that “isn’t right”, situations of potential risk, and the options for avoidance or escape. This needs to become an unconscious habit, and that requires practice!
Predators look for weak victims – distracted victims – unaware victims. Train yourself to not appear to be one of those. But you never know when a predator will choose to strike, and should you end up in that fight, it will be those unconscious habits, actions and behaviors that you’ve rehearsed and mentally prepared for, that will kick in.
“We don’t rise to the level of our expectations – we fall to the level of our training”
-Archilochus, Greek Soldier