The three pillars of successful personal safety and defence are Mindset, Skills, and Equipment – in that order of importance.
Today I want to briefly talk about the first element of the above three.
Mindset is a function of your attitude. Your self-confidence, outlook on life, physical condition, level of skills, knowledge and experience all feed into how your mindset develops. So, yes – you can actively work on developing and improving your existing mindset by developing and improving yourself.
Harbouring a defeatist, passive mindset is not going to benefit you at all during a violent encounter with a criminal. On the other hand, having an action-orientated and positive mindset will make a world of difference.
Now, being action-orientated and positive doesn’t infer you are going to approach each and every encounter with the end goal of getting involved in a fight. It means the total opposite, in fact. By now I hope you are to a degree aware that the best violent encounter is the one completely avoided.
Having the right mindset is a crucial element to how you manage any situation – from a minor household emergency to being caught in a mass-casualty incident – and comes into play long before a potentially violent encounter even starts developing.
To simplify, mindset is the driver not only behind how you approach and manage a situation, but also how you manage risk daily.
As a brief example, let’s say you encounter an aggressive individual who is a potential danger to you but has not yet initiated an attack (or even telegraphed that it is imminent). A person with defeatist and passive mindset will essentially be an impotent passenger during this process. And through their unwillingness to participate and manage the situation, potentially even make it worse.
In the same situation, a person with an action-orientated mindset will be actively searching for a solution or way out. They will make use of verbal jiujitsu, create or maintain spacial separation, control the tone of their voice and body language, and process information constantly in order to exert a form of control or influence over how things develop.
Therefore they are always trying to change the situation.
In fact, an action-orientated individual may even have avoided becoming caught in such a confrontation in the first place by their very nature of actively managing their risk profile.
If worse comes to absolute worse, and the aggressive individual violently attacks them, an action-orientated individual will be committed to win the fight. A passive and defeatist individual will not. And the results will speak for themselves.
The difference between the two approaches is quite stark. Defeatists believe they can exercise no control over anything, and passively accept it spiraling out of control, whereas positive individuals believe they can (and should) try to change the situation.
Now, most people aren’t of the extreme defeatist type. The majority of folks likely hover somewhere in the middle. Which is good – this means they can develop and improve their mindset from an existing base of positive action-orientated thinking.
A major challenge to this, is the unfortunate prevalence of misinformation. The media tells people that resisting criminals is futile, and that they should unthinkingly comply with their attackers’ every demand. There are of course numerous pitfalls to this. Apart from the fact that such information is highly inaccurate, it is also dangerous.
Even if, for the sake of the argument, you have no opportunity or ability to effectively defend yourself, your mindset will also determine how effectively you comply. If the criminal mugging you is nervous and highly agitated, your excessively animated body language and trembling speech (resulting from your own uncontrolled stress) can actually trigger them into violence. Hence merely complying with your assailant isn’t remotely as straightforward as some in the media claims it is.
In fact, it may even be riskier than fighting or fleeing.
There is no script or rule book for how violent encounters and incidents play out. Understanding this is crucial. And even if you don’t presently feel confident enough to resist criminals, know that your mindset will guide the effectiveness of your compliance. If you do not try to exert control over a situation, then the situation will control you.
I hope this clarifies a little about how vitally important your mindset is. It quite literally determines how effective you will utilise your skills and equipment in any situation.
Always be an active participant in your own rescue. Develop your mindset.
Written by Gideon Joubert.
Gideon is the owner and editor of Paratus.