Mental Preparedness for Crisis Situations

 Las Vegas Nevada.  Everyone’s seen the footage, and everyone has their theories.

Plenty of information will come forward in the coming weeks and months that will undoubtedly answer a lot of the questions we all have.  As much as we want to, we can’t go back in time and somehow magically make what happened in Las Vegas go away.  We can’t cry hard enough to open some portal in the universe that can bend the space-time-continuum to make it never have happened. What we CAN do is to pray for the victims and learn from what happened.

As we have said time and time again, things are getting worse, NOT better. The world is no longer a safe place.  It hasn’t been for a while… but many people refuse to acknowledge this, preferring instead to maintain an attitude of normalcy bias which won’t require them to alter anything. It’s just easier to not notice. It’s uncomfortable to think about negative things.  Recognizing there’s a problem would mean DOING something, preparing, or changing, and for most people that’s just too much trouble.  Instead, people go through the day, heads down, focused on their texts, apps and tweets, simply assuming that everything will all go to plan.  As a result, if anything goes even a little awry, people go straight into full-out unprepared panic mode.  By simply altering our thought process, we can give ourselves a far better chance of surviving life-threatening situations when they come, not only helping us, but also those around us.

Here are 5 things you can do to increase your chances of surviving in today’s unpredictable, dangerous world.

1).  Get some situational awareness. 

What we mean by situational awareness is simply being aware of your surroundings.  It may seem simple to some, but for most people, walking through the day completely oblivious to their surroundings is the new norm.  Know where you are, and what possible threat scenarios you could face from the moment you leave your home.   Are you looking down at your cell phone, or is your head up looking around and scanning for potential threats? As you walk to your car, are there any suspicious people walking toward you, or sitting in cars close to you? Do they seem out of place or give off a strange vibe?  Is there anything under your car tires, or behind your car? Did you check the back seat before you entered your car to make sure no one is hiding inside? Once you are inside your car do you immediately lock the doors?  Do you know where the closest police station, and nearest hospital is?  When you get to the gas station, does anything look out of place?  How many people are in the store?  Do they look normal, or are they acting a bit shifty?  Does the clerk look ok, or stressed out?  Did the guy behind you just turn the sign on the door to ‘CLOSED’ after he walked in?

This might seem like a lot of work for someone used to going through their daily routine without considering their surroundings, but when practiced often enough, it will become a life-saving habit that can save you from being an unsuspecting victim.

2).  Always Have a Contingency Plan.

Never assume things are going to go as planned, and always be ready to defend yourself.

Preparing yourself mentally before something happens puts you at a huge advantage over anyone wanting to end you in a ‘shock and awe’ scenario.  Being mentally prepared for all possible scenarios will increase your reaction time, and help dilute panic and confusion which could slow you down.  Adopting a ‘Sheepdog’ mentality– someone who watches out for others, and is ready at a moment’s notice to go to the aid of those around him, will help prevent a feeling of helplessness and instead create a ‘protector’ mindset, where one feels a sense of purpose, control and power.

Let’s say you are on the subway.  You usually play Angry Birds the entire way home, but today you decide to exercise a little situational awareness instead.  You notice a strange looking man at the back of the subway car. He keeps looking at the guy across from him with a subtle angry sneer.  The man he is staring at doesn’t notice, but YOU do.  Instead of brushing it off as ‘not my concern’, you run some quick possible scenarios through your head.  You consider the possibility that the sneering man may be capable of hurting someone on this subway car. You listen to hear if he is saying anything.  Is he chanting some death prayer?  Is he cursing?  Is he hallucinating spiders and leprechauns?  Can you see what he is carrying?   If something goes down, will you run over to help?  What if he has a knife?  What if he has a gun?  What if he has a bomb?  What do you have on you, or near you to help defend yourself from any of those?  By adopting a ‘non-victim’ mentality and coming up with several contingency plans, you are already exercising control, and putting yourself in a position of quick reaction time which will make all the difference when seconds count.

3)When in Doubt, GTFO

 How many videos have you watched where in the midst of a very real emergency, people are insisting that it’s nothing to be concerned with.  ‘It’s just balloons’…. ‘Those are just firecrackers’… ‘That’s not an earthquake, it’s just a train’.  People will always handle crisis situations differently, so it’s imperative that you know how YOU are going to process a situation when something doesn’t feel right, and to not let anyone talk you out of it.  Denial is a psychological defense mechanism that helps a person avoid a potentially distressing truth.  It’s a form of avoidance, which enables those people to not have to deal with a particular situation.  Many people use this approach as their first reaction to a threat.  Your job is to NOT be one of those people, and to NEVER listen to, or follow those who immediately react in that way.  It’s ALWAYS better to escape a threat and live to fight another day, then to be polite, and fall in line with other’s avoidance techniques.  It’s not a ‘micro-aggression’ to disagree with someone who insists there is no threat, when there VERY WELL MIGHT BE.   Don’t let your escape be held back by someone’s well-meaning but quite inappropriate coping-mechanism.

4).  Embrace the Gift of Fear.

Gavin Debecker wrote one of the most important books of this century, which illustrates the need for embracing that feeling in your gut when something is wrong.  In his book,

‘The Gift of Fear’ he argues that trusting the voice inside you that is trying to tell you something is not right, is one of the most important survival mechanisms we have.  As anyone who has hunted can tell you, a 12-point buck is not as easy to take as one might think.  They have developed an amazing sense for danger, and will high-tail it out of the area for so much as a twig snapping that doesn’t sound quite right.  This ‘gift of fear’ is literally what keeps them alive.  Humans seem to be the only ones who can somehow manage to rationalize away fear, staying put in situations they should instead run from.  It’s up to each person to acknowledge red flags, and question them seriously, rather than dismiss them and make excuses for them.  If someone at a concert leaves you with an uneasy feeling after saying something along the lines of, ‘You are all going to die tonight’…   you just might want to seriously consider listening to your gut, and reassess your situation.  Accusing yourself of ‘racial profiling’, being ‘such-and-such phobic’or ‘judgmental’ and then dismissing it, when your gut is screaming that something or someone is truly a threat, is NOT going to help you survive.

5).  Get in Shape and Learn how to Defend yourself.

Not everyone believes in owning a gun, and not everyone wants the responsibility that comes with that privilege.  For those who do not feel comfortable owning a firearm for protection, or for those living in countries where guns are not allowed as a personal defense option, you MUST learn basic self-defense techniques.  We highly recommend Krav Maga. It’s a very effective way to defend oneself from attackers, and there are many different ways to learn.  Many martial arts studios teach Krav, and/or other practical forms of self-defense.  Being able to learn and practice with others will greatly enhance your muscle memory and provide you with a sense of camaraderie. For those who cannot find a local self-defense class, YouTube provides many easy to learn self-defense and Krav Maga videos for free.   Whether you are in a class or learning on your own, once you learn a technique, practice it over and over again until you have developed a muscle memory of that technique and have it down. Once you have mastered one move, learn another.  When you hear the name Rhonda Rousey, chances are you think of one word-

Arm-bar. She has seriously mastered one deadly move that works for her time and time again. This shows you that having just one good technique which you can execute well, is far better than learning twelve you can’t remember how to do.  Having the confidence to defend yourself in a worst-case scenario situation will help you to navigate many challenging situations in life. Lastly, if you aren’t in shape, get in shape.  Perhaps the day will come when there won’t be anything you can do but run.  In many cases, running away is 100% the right thing to do.  Get in shape now and greatly increase your odds of surviving a crisis situation if you are ever in one.

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