As I have worked for many years in public service, I have encountered many people who were victims of crime and violence. I have often listened to what they have said, post incident, and wondered why they didn’t recognize the signs of the incident before it happened. With many instances of the “Knock Out Game” happening around the country and the victims simply ignoring large groups, people walking aggressively, or just simply being too comfortable in their surroundings, I saw one concept I have been teaching become very apparent.
Today we as a society have become too comfortable with our surroundings and actions in our world. It has become a safe haven for us to live in and operate. We do not think of our living “bubble” as being dangerous, so we go about our lives visiting the same places we are comfortable, live in our home where we feel secure, and mostly visit or stay in places where we don’t look for threats. When violence or adversity invades our lives, it is usually brought into our perceived safe zones and most people are not prepared. When we are outside our “comfort bubble” we are on high alert, looking for threats, dangers and seeing people as suspicious.
The question is: Why have we as a society taught ourselves to be in denial about threats and dangers that can easily enter into our comfortable, every day, safe zones?
I have a theory that I teach in my concealed carry classes. It is that people who are inside their “bubble” have to pass through several stages before they can react to any given adverse situation. This creates time and advantage to the “bad guy” and situation and takes valuable seconds away from us.
The stages of the theory are: Recognition, Denial, Acceptance, Decision, and Reaction.
Recognition- We see, hear, and recognize the threat and then your mind starts to processes a threatening situation is occurring to you and/or to the people around you.
Denial- This is the problem area where the delay may be a second to two and slows our reaction. People tend to think “why is this happening to me” or “this can’t be happening” when the unexpected occurs. This is due largely to the comfort zone to which we are accustom. Usually this is met with denial and the problem is ignored…not always a good move. As a species, humans have evolved and not always in a good way. When humans were hunters and gatherers, they were always on alert for threats. Being alert to animals, other humans or natural disasters allowed our species to survive because they were on this heightened alert at all times. As humans we have learned to dismiss the “bad feelings,” hairs standing up, when situations seem wrong, and the subconscious alerts to dangers. In the early days of our species we would not have survived if those senses were ignored like we do today. Now let me be clear that I am not referring to any type paranoia or that the world is out to get you, I am referring to taking the time to accept your feelings and awareness that is provided by your gut instinct.
Acceptance- This is the stage where the mind accepts that the situation is happening and understands that a decision has to be made to protect itself.
Decision- Once we have accepted that we are now in an adverse situation, our mind has to calculate the choices we have. Do you run or do you defend? What options do you have? Where are safe places? Are there other people around? A person has to now calculate what to do and how to do it. For people who train regularly or are exposed regularly to these situations, a decision is usually made more quickly, as the “fall back to your training” and repetitive motion skills are accessed without much thought.
Reaction- This is the process where the brain has made a decision and then sends the signals to the body to react. This is usually a very short delay, but the motor skills of just drawing a weapon or turning to run can take at least a second or two.
All of these actions take time. Learning to listen to yourself and accept what our body and subconscious is telling us is important. All of these feelings are what makes us survive as a species and as individuals. Regardless of what you do, where you work or how you live your life, not being a victim takes dedication to being aware of what is going on around you and preparing for the unforeseen.