In part 1, long ago now, I covered the basics of situational awareness in some specific situations, along with some simple drills to help people practice this highly important skill. If you have not seen the first article or don’t already practice awareness, I urge you to click the link above and come back for part 2.
Hopefully, you are not walking or driving while talking or “texting” on the telephone, listening to music or otherwise zoned out. Walking or driving while unaware, or minimally aware of your surroundings, is a prime contributor to becoming a victim, whether of a criminal attack or just running into something. Even those who think they can seriously multi task will be at increased risk if they don’t actually see and understand what is happening around them.
Remember that criminals look for and target the unaware, anyone perceived to be weak, the elderly, anyone they see as probably helpless. If you look like food…. you may be eaten.
So, what might you do to sharpen your awareness skills?
First, if you are just looking for trouble, suspicious activity or people, thinking only of the negative, you may well ignore important but subtle clues. And it’s not a nice way to live anyway.
Look at what is actually THERE each time you go out. Start right at your own doorway. Look out. What do you see? It is easy to get complacent and think you know what’s out there… but do you? Can you close your eyes and describe the way your yard is set up, how many steps to your garage or driveway, the presence of any holes or obstacles, anything and everything that is normal and not remarkable. If not, take the time to look at it with new eyes.
Now do the same for your neighborhood. Really look at the whole picture, frequently. Do you know for sure which cars your neighbors drive? Are you familiar with their children, dogs, even regular visitors? You have to be careful that you are not intruding or rude about your observations, of course, but you should be at least somewhat familiar with those who share your living space. You should know who and what probably belongs there.
Take the time to greet your neighbors and talk with them, even if you are not comfortable with much social interaction. They need to see YOU as normal, belonging there too.
The same thing goes, in a more limited way, for any place you work, shop or visit regularly, or where you worship. Take some time each trip and look around you to be especially aware of the normal, the people and things that at least seem to belong.
THEN you will be better able to spot the unusual, the people or things that do NOT necessarily belong there. You will have a much better idea of what to be wary of, what to watch more closely. You will have a much earlier warning of danger without any need to be suspicious or fearful of everything.
It would, therefore, seem logical that you would be most at risk in a strange place, a new neighborhood, a new job. Traveling presents even well armed people with higher levels of risk, even (maybe especially) when they travel to places regarded as “safe.” A higher level of awareness just seems smart then, because there is no place where the risk is zero.
Plan to practice this heightened awareness all the time, wherever you go. It must become second nature to do you the most good.
Next time: Trusting Your Guts