The Defensive Mindset – Mental Rehearsals

car-thieves-work-hereThis post was inspired by a friend who recently told a story on Facebook about finding burglars trying to break into her family’s cars at 4:00 am.  She and her husband went outside (both armed) to investigate.  But, by the time they came out, the car alarms had apparently scared off the bad guys.  And, that’s a good outcome.  But, it could have gone a number of ways… some possibly very bad.

When you take on the responsibility of your own security / safety by arming yourself, besides the technical training and practice and knowledge of your state’s laws…. It can be useful to mentally run scenarios in your head.  You should also discuss these scenarios with your spouse or housemates.

In this scenario, you are alerted that someone is trying to break into or steal your car.  How you react can have a cascade of effects.  It’s worth considering these possibilities BEFORE you encounter these situations.  Let’s do some mental “walk-throughs” of this case together: 

  • Car alarm goes off.  You are alerted.  You look out the window and see the bad guys running away.  Call the police and report what happened.  End of story.
  • You are alerted.  You turn on the outside lights.  You call 911.  You yell out the door or a window that the police are on the way.  Bad guys run away.  End of story.
  • You are alerted.  You turn on the outside lights.  You call 911.  You go outside armed / unarmed.  You yell at bad guys that police are on the way.  Bad guys run away.  End of story.
  • You are alerted.  You turn on the outside lights.  You call 911.  You confidently go outside armed.  No way you’re letting these guys take your stuff.  You yell at bad guys that police are on the way.  Bad guys DON’T run away.  Instead, they come running AT you.  Now you have a BIG decision to make.  This is where it can get VERY tricky.

A.  Maybe you’re close to the door, and you make it back inside your house, locking the door behind you before the bad guys reach you.  Phew!

B.  Maybe you stand your ground, but you hesitate to defend yourself (you really don’t want to shoot someone or have doubts).  Some call it “getting stuck in the OODA loop.”  In other words, you “freeze.”  Now bad guys are ON you (and your gun).  NOT GOOD.  This may be the end of YOUR story.

C.  Or, you decide to defend yourself and fire, one bad guy goes down (dead), and the other runs away.  You’re “safe” now.  You feel justified.  You were understandably scared and felt that your life was threatened.  But, your local law enforcement agency and district attorney may not be so sure you were justified.  In the end, you may lose and go to jail.  Or, you may “win” and go home.  But, even if you get to go home, what did you “win?”  You may or may not have to live with the psychological consequences of ending someone’s life.  You may lose a lot of money or other assets (including your home?) for your legal defense.  You may lose friends.  You may lose your social standing in the community and with your work / job / business.  You may live with the understandable and perpetual fear of retribution (by the dead bad guy’s friends / family) to you or your family.  You might have to move away.

Should I stay, or should I go?

Now… in a legitimate case of being attacked by a criminal bent on causing you grievous bodily harm, those possible negative consequences are better than being dead.  The old saying applies, “Better to be judged by twelve than carried by six.”  But, in the case of protecting your PROPERTY, one should / must consider whether it’s worth those consequences.  I’m fairly confident that most of us would agree that our property is not worth those possible outcomes.  Borrowing (modifying slightly) from “The Clash”…

Should I stay or should I go now?
Should I stay or should I go now?
If I stay, there will be trouble.
An’ if I fight, it might be double.
So come on and let me know…

the thinkerIf you decide to arm yourself, something I advocate, you should mentally rehearse the when, where, how, and why of lethal force and self-defense.  I have previously suggested that the best way to win a fight is to not be in it.  Avoidance is an excellent strategy that results in the best outcome.  Arming yourself levels the field when physically attacked and facing a disparity of force.  But, it should also elevate your understanding of all the possible consequences.  Of course, you should be familiar with your state’s laws.  No…. more than familiar.  You should know them COLD.  In most states, lethal force in the defense of property is not legally authorized.  Even if you’re not armed, have you thought about these possible encounters?

This indecision’s buggin’ me…

Try this exercise:  What would I do if _________?  How you fill that blank is limited only by your imagination.  It could be:

Just a few to get you thinking.  🙂  I’m sure you can come up with more.   What would you do?  What should you do?  What COULD you do?  What are your options?  Do some creative thinking.  What are the possible outcomes… physical…  legal…  financial…  psychological…  social?  Think about it.  What is being threatened?  Property?  Or life?  Consider that threats aren’t necessarily criminals.  It could be a natural disaster or accident.  How do you get out alive?

Stay safe my fellow Dental Warriors!

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6 Responses to The Defensive Mindset – Mental Rehearsals

  1. When I was a new dentist a man came in asking to talk with me directly saying he shouldn’t have to pay his bill for an exam because I didn’t DO anything. When I talked to him he became very confrontational and gave me the look that he wanted to seriously teach me a lesson. At that moment I was scared, but stood my ground. We really should review some simple defensive measures in our dental office regarding these types of scenarios.

    • The Dental Warrior says:

      Hi Jacob. Thanks for chiming in. Did you see my posts about dangerous dental office situations?

      This one isn’t about dental offices (hospital), but applies.

    • Hey Jacob,

      I had a very similar experience as you did but I used my background in psychology to not only defuse the situation but to give him a sense of relief. I don’t think there will ever be a real defensive measures that will work in every situation but I highly recommend you check out robert cialdini’s book “The Psychology of Persuasion”, you’ll learn some cool tricks that will help you for years to come.

  2. Mike Pham says:

    There’s a back door in my clinic’s lab and I usually work there late nights. I once had a guy brandishing a gun barge in and did a double take. I don’t think he expected a lab. I took the chance to escape and reported the incident. I’ve been taking self defense lessons ever since. Krav Maga is pretty effective.

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