3 ways to mentally prepare for an attack

Do you have the will to survive if your life is in imminent danger?


Start by asking yourself a few questions that I know most of you don’t like to think about:

  • Do you have the will to survive if your life is in imminent danger?
  • Can you deal with being in the middle of uncomfortable or unpleasant situations that sometimes accompany our daily duties?
  • How well do you respond to uncomfortable situations?
  • Can you communicate appropriately under stress? 
  • Do you have the will to fight to keep yourself alive?

I would like to present some options for you that I think can be very effective for your survival.

Plan and practice utilizing good verbal communication and physical tactics to deal effectively with any crisis that may come your way. (Photo/CorrectionsOne)
Plan and practice utilizing good verbal communication and physical tactics to deal effectively with any crisis that may come your way. (Photo/CorrectionsOne)

Control your attitude

You have the ability to mentally prepare yourself for a bad day when it occurs at work, at home or in your community. When you wake up each morning, you control how you will respond to everything that comes your way. Your attitude controls your motivation. Your motivation controls your performance. Your performance dictates whether or not you will be successful and productive each day. Who controls your attitude? You do.

If you knew today, that you would be physically fighting for your life tomorrow, would it change how you prepare yourself today? Remember, bad things happen to good people every day. You don’t have to wait for bad things to happen and then blindly react to it. You have the ability to mentally prepare your mind for where your body may have to go, at the same time preparing yourself to respond in a manner in which you will survive, no matter what!

My dad used to tell me that luck favors a prepared mind. I am a firm believer in this.  I don’t want to rely solely on my physical skills by just reacting to crisis situations when they happen. I want to be mentally prepared to respond to these situations because I have pre-planned and practiced them in my mind prior to the event. These mental repetitions will enhance the propensity for me and those around me, to survive and keep going.

Crisis rehearsal

Crisis rehearsal is a simple concept that can save your life and perhaps the lives of others. The purpose of crisis rehearsal is to reduce mental and physical stress associated with critical incidents. Jay Sandstrom, one of my instructors at the Corrections Training Academy in Wisconsin, always said, “If you don’t plan for the worst possible scenario, you won’t be prepared for it.” This simply means that you can’t practice it at the point of impact; you have to practice crisis rehearsal prior to the event in order to increase your chances for winning and surviving.

Coach Bob Lindsey shares with us the concept of “when/then” thinking, which is a key component to crisis rehearsal. Coach notes that in the past, staff would practice “if/then” thinking. If something happens, I will do this. Unfortunately this often generated a sense of denial because staff thought that if something would happen – but probably won’t – then I will do something. Coach said we need to start practicing “when/then” thinking. When something happens, then I will be ready with a pre-planned, practiced response. There is no denial, just the facts. When bad things happen to good people, alert, decisive and well-trained staff will be ready to respond appropriately.

Constructive daydreaming

I like to ask my students if they ever daydream. If you do, why not practice what I like to call “constructive daydreaming.” The best way to ensure your survival is to personalize how you train for it. You need to prepare your mind for where your body has to go.

Constructive daydreaming and crisis rehearsal combine the scenario with the techniques and tactics – both physical and verbal – to survive emotionally and physically each day. Place yourself at your work station, in a dayroom, on cell block, in a tower or standing watch in the dining hall. Choose a crisis scenario and the circumstances that relate to the job you are performing. Then plan and practice utilizing good verbal communication and physical tactics to deal effectively with the crisis.

Tell yourself you will survive and remain in control. Practice autogenic breathing by inhaling slowly in through your nose and then exhaling slowly out through your mouth. This technique is simple and reduces your anxiety level, which brings your heart rate down. It minimizes your apprehension, uncertainty and confusion. It allows you to remain in control and, when you are in control, those around you will remain calm and in control as well. Most importantly, always practice winning and surviving.

Practice, practice, practice

Have you ever asked yourself difficult questions? How about these:

  • How well do you handle uncomfortable situations?
  • Do you have the will to keep fighting when physically confronted by an inmate?
  • Are you able to effectively communicate under stress and give direction when you are confronted by a violent subject or subjects?
  • Can you choose the appropriate force option under stress?

Only you know the answers to these questions. My fighting rules will always remain the same when I am put in a situation where I may be fighting for my life. No matter how great of shape you are in, or think you are in, you will get tired quickly. Always remember to be effective from the beginning and disengage to safety when given the opportunity. Your safety is number one, always! It is vital that you condition your responses to survive every threatening situation.

Crisis rehearsal and constructive daydreaming will allow you to remain alert, be decisive and have a pre-planned practiced response in mind at the point of impact. This will enhance your chances of surviving and going home at the end of the day to enjoy your family.

This article, originally published 04/22/2014, has been updated.

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