Officer Survival trainer Lt. Dave Smith (a.k.a., JD Buck Savage) presents an excellent example of paradoxical thinking. How can you expect the unexpected? (As Monty Python reminded us back in the day, nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!) Still, Buck raises an important point: complacency kills. And nothing creates complacency quite like routine. If routine has conditioned your mind to consider a particular situation non-threatening – like, say, coming downstairs for breakfast in the morning – an unexpected threat will catch you flat-footed (like the flat-foot described in the video above). How do you prevent that? Here’s the problem . . .
You can’t maintain a constant state of vigilance. Not only does the adrenalin demand wear you out physically, but people will start thinking of you as Mr. Paranoid. When you people start thinking of you as Mr. Paranoid, bad guys will force you to be a lookout for a robbery. When you’re a lookout for a robbery . . . you’ve seen the Direct TV ads. Suffice it to say, there’s a way to OODA loop up and spinning quickly and appropriately in response to a changing threat environment.
Sitting down somewhere, adjusting your breathing, closing your eyes and visualizing a successful battle against bad guys immediately before you go downstairs, walk the dog or enter a restaurant isn’t it. Who’s got the time, privacy, energy or expertise for that? Certainly not a cop about to handle a call, no matter how much self-hypnosis he’s practiced or how “routine” the job may be. No, you’ve got to program yourself well before time, so you can spool-up automatically.
Ideally, you should have someone else program you to automatically switch into self-defense mode as required. Self-hypnosis is a lot of work, much of it guesswork. Am I hypnotized? What should I be saying to myself? Am I hungry? I wonder if there’s any of that turkey left over from lunch? What time is it? Like that.
Finding a hypnotist who doesn’t call themselves a hypnotherapist and ask you about your mother and book you for weekly sessions is just as difficult as mastering the art of self-entrancement. Don’t look at me; I’m retired (although I did put together this hypnosis video for self-defense). But most things that could save your life are worth a little hard work. So . . .
Find some quiet time. Close your eyes, take five slow breaths, and guide yourself through a self-defense scenario visually while talking yourself through it. “I’m walking down the street at night. I see something move in the shadows. I hear a strange sound. I stop. I’m ready to draw my gun and move. I know where my cell phone is. I look for an escape route.
“Someone comes out of the bushes. I begin to move away quickly. I warn him off. He keeps coming. He’s got a weapon. I draw mine and fire. I stop the threat. I scan for other threats. I re-holster my gun and call 911. I am alive.”
The key difference between my recommendation and my man Savage’s: you’re pre-visualizing yourself detecting danger in an initially non-threatening environment, then imagining moving quickly from unaware to aware to prepared to initiating combat effective action. You’re programming yourself to be ready to react.
You can’t know when something bad’s going to happen. Bad things can happen when we least expect them. But you can train your subconscious mind to look for trouble and give your conscious mind a heads-up so you can react swiftly and appropriately. Strange but true.