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The poor on the borderline of starvation live
purposeful lives. To be engaged in a desperate
struggle for food and shelter is to be wholly free
from a sense of futility.
                                       Eric Hoffer

Mental Preparation

On this page:
Recognition | Palatability | Available Time | Appropriate Response | Adrenalin | Survival Mindset

When it comes to crime and violence the biggest difficulty you face is not your attacker. There IS an effective solution to that issue.

The problem is:
      How you normally think prevents you from implementing that solution
      in the available time.

What we are saying is the biggest challenge you face isn't the attacker. It's overcoming your own way of thinking in order to deal effectively with the attacker. And to be able to do it before he is successful.

While it may seem like a simple and obvious thing (He's attacking I should defend myself) the truth is it isn't that simple. "Shifting mental gears' isn't something you 'just' do. The human brain is a marvel of flexibility and adaptability, but it isn't that flexible.

If you haven't done your homework before hand, the difficulties inherent with getting to the right mindset always crop up at the worst time. When you are in a race for your survival, having these problems unexpectedly crop up is the last thing you need. In fact, the way these problems crop up is kind of like racing across the desert at high speed and suddenly having the Grand Canyon yawn before your wheels. You can see where you want to go (the other side), but that unexpected mile-wide hole between you and your goal complicates getting there.

That's a good analogy for the average person who suddenly finds himself facing violence. You may see where you need to go, but there's this yawning abyss between you and that goal. Facing unexpected and previously unknown problems, the odds are against you getting there.

But if you have done your homework, those issues are neither unexpected or insurmountable. Sticking with the abyss analogy. Knowledge and pre-contemplation  of certain issues shrinks the problem from the Grand Canyon to a ravine. Yes you still have to jump it, but a) you know it's there and b) it's a lot more manageable.

Although the following list is not complete, when it comes to self-defense there are well known areas that people commonly trip over. The list is an introduction to the biggest issues. Our intent is not to tell you how you must resolve them, but to acquaint you with the problems, their component parts and issues you must familiarize yourself with:
     1) Recognition
     2) Palatability
     3) Available Time
     4) Appropriate response
     5) Experience with operating in an adrenalized state

The following sections are loaded with links that will help you further understand the topic.

It would be wonderful if crime and violence happened with a transporter. If this technology existed, one minute you'd be walking to your car and the next you'd be transported to a different planet populated by aliens. Living in this science-fiction world, you could immediately recognize what had happened, that things are no longer normal and that's a violent alien coming at you. With a little bit of training  you'd be ready for this kind of problem. You'd know it was time to whip out your ray gun and start zapping aliens.

Unfortunately, violence doesn't happen that way. It is often difficult to realize that a situation is heading towards crime and violence. Sure the situation wasn't normal, but who thought it was that dangerous?  Realize that crime is a process. Not only that, but once you know what it looks like, it is very obvious when it is developing. The problem is that often we are so emotionally involved, that we fail to recognize the signs (Often we are literally blind to them). If you know the danger signals, it IS as obvious as if you were transported to another planet.

Being able to recognize when someone is trying to set you up for an attack, is one of the biggest steps in being able to mentally prepare yourself to stop it. The more warning you get the more you can both prepare for and double check that the threat is real (i.e. it isn't your imagination).

Have you ever really sat down and thought about how you think? Do you really understand where many of the ideas that you believe in came from? Have you ever asked yourself, "What don't I know?" and how easily you can confuse what you think for what you know? Have you ever wondered how much of what you do is based in logic vs. natural programming? It's hard to think outside of the box, if you don't even realize you are in one.

The truth is we do most of our thinking out of habit. That is to say we have established assumptions, ideas, ideologies and ways of thinking that we use to function in our everyday lives. These paradigms not only guide our actions, but become self-reinforcing AND self-limiting. The more we think a certain way, the less able we are to think in other ways.

What's more is we take for granted that our paradigms and way of thinking are 'correct.' Often we fail to see gaping holes, contradictions, limits and the application/non-application of how we think. Another thing we often fail to see is how much the way we think limits our options -- especially in situations outside our normal existence.

One of the bigger problems faced by 'normal' people who've found themselves in a violent situation is that they are usually desperately trying to come up with -- not only an effective solution -- but one that works with their personal philosophy/world view. In short, they are looking for a palatable answer. Unfortunately, an effective and palatable answer are often mutually exclusive.

An example of this is that a person who feels that 'violence never solved anything' (VNSA) can believe that as long as he/she is not being physically assaulted. While the reasons and motivations for the assault will not be resolved, effective counter-force does prevent you from being brutally victimized during an assault. However, those who subscribe to the VNSA hypothesis have usually not developed the means to be effective using force. Because of their choices, that option is off the table. Therefore they are left casting around for an effective response within their normal paradigms (e.g. talking it out, being reasonable). Unfortunately, attacker is past that point.

It is not hyperbole to say, in a crisis, it boils down to: What is more important, your safety or protecting how you think? The sad truth is that most people are victimized while desperately trying to come up with an answer to an extreme and unique circumstance using their everyday paradigms.

Unfortunately, this does not only apply to whether you choose or refuse to use force. Just as often, it applies to whether you choose to avoid a dangerous situation or walk right into it.

Available Time
One of the fundamental strategies of both violent criminals and the habitually violent is to immediately apply an overwhelming degree of force to achieve their goals. It is critical to realize this is not a fight, it is an assault. There isn't the build up, the yelling and screaming (threat display) of fight. That would give you time to mentally prepare to yourself.

The objective of a criminal attack/assault is to immediately render you incapable of resisting. While the set up may take time, the attack is going to come at you fast.

Without pre-existing awareness of the danger, it is often difficult to rally an effective defense against this kind of violence. Under these circumstances, it is nearly impossible to find both an effective and a palatable answer.

At NNSD we advocate an awareness and avoidance strategy no matter what your choices are about the use of force. For both choices this over-all strategy gives you extra time to mentally shift gears, as well as develop your tactics and counter measures.

Appropriate Response
Face it, what we are talking about is scary. However, just because you perceive there to be extreme danger doesn't necessarily mean that level of danger really exists. Putting it bluntly, being emotional doesn't give you carte blanche to go berserk.

Although those who are looking for an excuse to run amok will often claim "There are no rules in a street-fight" that is an outright lie. There are established legal parameters about what you can and cannot do in ANY situation. To begin with a fight is not self-defense. Self-defense is legal, fighting isn't. In the heat of the moment though, most people perceive their actions AS self-defense, when in fact, they were fighting.

Any action you engage in must be appropriate to the level of danger that exists -- this is especially true about using lethal force. In these days of video surveillance the odds are your actions will be recorded. Therefore your understanding of the law, the levels of threat and your own internal responses will help you better tailor your actions to stay within the boundaries of self-defense.

Modern technology is a wonderful thing. With it we have been able to explore the wonders of how the human brain works. And we have begun to better understand the relationship between the brain and the body.

There exists a huge and complex body of work about how the human brain and body react in crisis. Epinephrine (often called adrenalin) is a powerful factor in our actions during crisis. So too is what part of the brain is 'driving' in a crisis. Different parts serve different functions and there is a proven connection between what is happening outside and what part is 'active' inside. What are also known is the psychological/perceptual/physiological changes that our bodies undergo in a crisis.

This massively complex cocktail of factors is collectively known as the adrenal stress response.

We change in a crisis -- and not always for the better. Our physical and mental acuity are greatly reduced and we are functioning in a very primitive and raw state.

Not only is functioning more difficult, but our perceptions are altered. That is to say our internal 'reality' may not be an accurate reflection of the external 'actuality.' Unfortunately, in this condition what we are going to be reacting to is our internal reality. This is why so many people, although they are convinced they are legally defending themselves are in fact, fighting.

The adrenal response can easily create two totally different problems. One is that it renders you incapable of action. Two is it causes you to go berserk on someone ... neither is good.

Survival Mindset
What are the issue effecting your ability to stay alive? They probably aren't what you think they are.

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Defeating The Victim's Consciousness

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