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Situational Awareness Can Save Your Life

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Sifu B is a former US Marine, with almost 40 years of martial art training. He is ranked in 5 styles.



Skillful people can get themselves out of trouble. Wise people avoid trouble. Situational awareness will save us because by using it we do the most important thing- we avoid trouble. Situational Awareness (SA) is not common but it is not a superpower. It can be developed by anyone. SA is not just for spies or soldiers. The averages person may not face as many immediate threats as an agent, the police, or military personal. Unfortunately though, when there is a threat, of one kind or another, the average person is oblivious until it is often too late.

Situational awareness, as the name suggest, involves being aware. This sounds obvious but the fact is most people have no idea what is going on around them. Driving in the, car they are humming long to the radio and do not see the cat (or worse, child) bolt into the street. Pushing through the crowd, the average person is not aware of the thief trailing behind, looking for an opportunity to snatch their wallet or purse. It is only when they get home later they realize their phone or wallet is missing. Then the questions start in their mind. “Did I drop it? Where did I leave it? Maybe it was stolen.”

The situation I have listed are minor compared to what could happen. The more critical the situation, the greater the need for SA.


Being Attentive

Most people walk around in a daze. They are not mindful of their surrounding. Or even worse, they focus on something else. Start training yourself today. Next time you are out, look around. Go to the coffee shop and watch. The people sitting in the shop will be focused on their laptops. Watch them on the bus and the train. The majority of the people are staring at their phones. You will see them walking or jogging down the street with earphones in.

The starting place fore developing SA is being aware and being in moment. This means not only avoiding distraction by things outside of you. It also means realizing when your mind is not focused. Then, refocusing your mind.

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Normality Bias

People are generally optimistic. Even if a person is not an optimist, we are all creatures of habit. We assume that today will be just like yesterday. We assume that tomorrow will be just like today. We assume that because something has never happened before it can never happen. It is this very sort of thinking which has gotten many people in hurt, in trouble, and even killed.

“I have passed through this dark alley before. It will probably be alright to do it again.”

“The last time the tornado came it missed our house. It will probably not come near us again.”

“I have never been mugged before. I am sure I will be safe,”

“The last time there was an earthquake it was not so bad.”

Warnings are similar to deviations in a baseline. When anything looks out of the ordinary you should go into a heighten state of awareness. When you have a warning, you should also consider the threat, situation, and courses of action. This does not mean you should panic. It does require further consideration. When there is a potential situation, we have to orient ourselves to the threat, and decide whether we will act or not act. We may decide to further monitor the situation. We may pack a few things in case we need to leave in a hurry. Or, if we think it is warranted, we may move. Movement saves lives.

If we do nothing, then maybe we will be safe. But, what if we are not safe? If we move, maybe it was for nothing but for sure, we will be more safe. If we stay we take a risk. If we move, there is much less risk. A healthy pessimism can save our lives.

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