Saturday, November 10, 2007

Alertness Mindset

Today's post is about the alertness mindset. But first, I want to give credit to my source.

A couple of years ago, I downloaded a neat little free e-book from Rob LaPointe called Automatic Self Defense. He gave free redistribution rights, which was smart, because the booklet promoted his self defense course. I never purchased the course, so I can't vouch for it in any way. However, since the e-book is no longer available, and I'm quoting from it, I thought it only fair that I include a link to his product.

God has put within each of us a Distant Early Warning (DEW) system. It scans our environment like RADAR all the time -- even when (strange as it may sound) we aren't aware of it. Thus, the assignment for many of us is not how to develop alertness, but to learn to heed the warnings from our inner DEW system. Automatic Self Defense calls it, "Rule #1." Here it is:

What is the #1 thing that gets us in trouble every time, whether it be in business or
personal relationships, or on the street?

Not doing what we know is right.

Rule #1 is trust your instincts. If you follow this rule, the other 4 will probably be
unnecessary. So, if it's such a simple rule, why don't people follow it? Usually because of social conditioning, that is, no one wants to be rude. We're approached in a place, at a time, in a certain way, by a person who makes us immediately uncomfortable, yet we don't simply walk away. Why not?

Ask someone who's been the victim of a crime and
they'll likely tell you they were ill at ease from the start - even before it was clear what was going on. They'll tell you something didn't feel right. Maybe it was the person, the setting, the time of day, all of that. They just didn't like the vibe.

And they still went along with it.
And they got in trouble.

Ask them why they didn't just turn around and leave and they'll almost always say it was
because they didn't want to be rude or appear to overreact. They should have paid better attention - and respect - to that gut feeling, because predators don't wear signs around their necks. Also, if you ever are the victim of a crime, Justice Department statistics suggest there's a high likelihood you're dealing with a recidivist. That means he's experienced, hardened, and has done jail time. The last thing you want to do is give a person like that control of the situation by "being polite." He knows you're trying to be polite. He's counting on it so he can manipulate you.

Most of us deal with many people in the course of a day, but somehow manage not to
make any of them fearful or anxious. If someone else makes you feel that way there's an excellent chance it's not you . . . it's them.

So trust your instincts.

If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. (Romans 12:18) You are not at peace with a violent predator if you allow him to make prey of you. Your best fight will always be the one that you avoid, and you will avoid it by developing an alertness mindset. So, listen to the DEW God designed into your consciousness.


Bruce said...

I won't dispute that a man's general unease in a given scenario should be more paid-attention to.

My comments are 2:
1) I would put an environmental factor in there. That "radar" is not just an inborn "evil-detector" we're born with, but our experience starting at birth has created a "safety" awareness zone, which should set off alarms when it is violated. I think teaching your wife and kids to understand their environment in terms of that zone, to listen to the unconscious alarms going off, i.e. to identify and evaluate the threat (not every alarm is a crisis), that is the vital thing.

2) Two Sunday's ago, in my message, I mentioned that we as Christians are NOT to be skeptical the way the world gets (in that case, Nebuchadnezzar, Dan. 2), that is to say: if all men are liars, so is the man who says that all men are liars--self referential incoherence. But We SHOULD BE suspicious, as Scripture says: "Let God be True, though every man a liar." My point being: the biggest handicap people have today, whether NOT professing at all, or professing Christians, is a fatally flawed understanding of human nature. It IS totally depraved, and a persistent refusal to note this fact is the ultimate denial, "not doing [or believing in this case] what one knows is right."

Gravelbelly said...


I agree that experience forms the template we use to differentiate safe situations from dangerous ones. Nonetheless, the unconscious drive to construct that template and the warnings that come when something does not match it, are inborn (i.e., put there by design).

There is a problem, however, with thinking that at the moment of warning, you will be ABLE to identify and evaluate the threat. That's because you have two different modes of consciousness at work here. I believe they reflect part of the image of God in us.

The Transcendent-like mode (T-mode) of consciousness is logical and analytical. The Immanent-like mode (I-mode) of consciousness is analogical and global. It is the I-mode that perceives a threat in terms of the template and raises the alarm.

Herein lies the problem: the data on which the I-mode of consciousness bases its conclusion is not immediately available to the T-mode. The I-mode acts very quickly in terms of "something here does not match up," whereas the T-mode requires time and reflection.

A host of interviews with victims of violence have borne this out. They usually had a sense that something was wrong(I-mode), but since they could not "identify and evaluate" the threat (T-mode), they ended up rationalizing away the warning. They paid the price as victims of violence.

Of course, the limits of creaturehood, as well as the sin nature, can lead some people to construct faulty templates. Some children, for example, have an early experience that forges into their template an irrational fear of dogs (not anyone we know). But irrational fear is another problem -- one I hope to address at a later time, as part of a treatment of fear in general.