More than ever before, Americans seem to have their noses in their phones. Worried about social media, taking photos, and keeping up with the Kardashians, the majority of Americans go about their lives oblivious to everything around them… turning themselves into potential victims. Even as adults with decades of experience we often succumb to modern urges to pay more attention to our phones than our surroundings. This problem is even worse with children and teenagers.
What Is a Defensive Mindset?
There’s a saying that goes: You win 100% of the fights you avoid. While you should always be aware of your tactical capabilities, and be in it to win it, sometimes the best fight is the one that you prevent through situational awareness. The defensive mindset is one where you are always on defense, allowing you to be better prepared to take the offensive when needed.
Think of it like defensive driving. A defensive mindset is one where you are grounded in the moment, checking your blind spots, avoiding compromising places, and being prepared to extract yourself from any position you find yourself in that puts you in jeopardy.
The defensive mindset is all about being prepared. This puts the ball in your court, gives you control over your situation, and allows you to successfully engage an attacker if you must.
Understanding Your Environment and Its Risks
The brain tends to go on “eco mode” when it thinks something is boring or routine. However, for a defensive mindset, you must train yourself to always be present. The ability to stay cognizant and evaluate threats in your environment takes discipline and constant effort. It means that when you walk into a gas station late at night, you’re creating a threat assessment for everyone else who walks in behind you. It means you stay in the streetlights when you leave a restaurant and walk back to your car late at night. It means that you know where the exits are in the movie theater.
A perfect quote that summarizes understanding your environment and its risks:
“ Well, when I board a plane, making my way back to the cheap seats, I clock every door. I pace off the distance between those exits and my seat. That plane loses power on takeoff, I can make egress in the dark, totally blind. If the aisle crowds up, I’m going to climb over the back on 36D, guy with that shiny toupee, make the over the wing exit. And I know the handle swings down not up. And I know the door swings in not out. And I know all that inside of 30 seconds, before they even pop the cork for you up there in Hollywood class. See, if you wait till the emergency happens before you decide what to do, you’re already dead.” – Timothy Olyphant as Nick (A Perfect Getaway 2009)
Keep Yourself and Your Loved Ones Safe
A defensive mindset is an important tool for protecting not only ourselves but also our loved ones. It’s important to remember that, especially with children, your loved ones may not be operating in a defensive mindset, even if you have taught them. Being prepared to move quickly for them can be the difference between life and death in a bad situation.
Even if you have taught your loved ones to have a defensive mindset, you should still maintain yours. Two heads on a swivel are better than one, and everyone is stronger when they have a partner watching out for them.
If you’ve been charged with the safety of your family (or even if it’s a shared responsibility), you should be exercising situational awareness the moment you walk outside your door (or maybe even before).
Educate Yourself on How You Can Legally Defend Yourself
A major component of the defensive mindset is knowing your local laws and regulations regarding self-defense. The defensive mindset thinks beyond the immediate threat and acts in a manner that reduces liability after an incident, if possible.
A great way to get educated is to take a CCW course with a local, reputable, firearms trainer and to check with programs like the USCCA for continuing education. By continuously educating yourself your skills will stay sharp, you will remain up to date on the relevant laws, and you’ll be better prepared.
You cannot expect to have a tactical advantage if you are caught unprepared during a violent attack. The road to victory lies in playing a strong defensive strategy. More importantly, because some things will always be out of your control, avoiding potentially dangerous situations altogether will ensure that you never expose yourself to the risk of potentially losing an engagement.
Practicing a defensive mindset will ensure that you avoid the avoidable, and have a tactical advantage when you have no other choice but to fight.
What are Your Tips?
If you have any pearls of wisdom to share with the community about having a defensive mindset, we’d love to hear ’em!