The Different States Of Awareness

Know Your State Of Mind BEFORE You Use Deadly Force

 
     
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

States Of Required Alertness If Confronted

CONDITION WHITE- White is the lowest level on the escalator. In Condition White one is unaware, not alert, oblivious. This state can be characterized as "daydreaming" or "preoccupied". People in White tend to walk around with their heads down, as if watching their own feet. They do not notice the impending danger until it literally has them by the throat.

You see examples of this frequently. When was the last time you saw someone in traffic roll right up to a barricade or stalled vehicle, then expect you to stop and let them into your lane? They're operating their vehicle in Condition White. When a motorist runs over a motorcyclist and kills him, what are the first words out of their mouth? "I didn't see him." They're not lying. They were so inattentive and complacent that they did not notice a 200-pound man on a four hundred pound machine right in front of them. When this same guy runs past a stop sign and broadsides your car, killing your child, he will say, "I didn't see it.".

These same guys will be the victims of violent crime, because the criminal targets the inattentive, the complacent, the lazy, the distracted, the preoccupied. Why? Because the criminal wants to get to him, get what he wants from him, and get away from him, without being hurt or caught. Who would be the easiest person to do that to? Someone in Condition White. I'm sure you've seen or read about the Miranda card police officers carry. From it they read off a suspect's rights before questioning him. Dedicated victims carry a similar card in their pockets. If they are still alive when the police arrive, they take this card out of their pockets and read from it, as follows:
" Geez, it all happened so fast.
He materialized right next to me.
I never saw him.".

So, when would it be acceptable to be in Condition White? When in your own home, with the doors locked, the alarm system on, and your dog at your feet. Then, you can turn off your mind, if you wish, because you have sufficient layers of protection and warning to enable you to get up, get your gear, and get your head running. If you leave your home, you leave Condition White behind. The instant you leave your home, you escalate one level, to Condition Yellow.

CONDITION YELLOW- This is a relaxed state of general alertness, with no specific focal point. You are not looking for anything or anyone in particular; you simply have your head up and your eyes open. You are alert and aware of your surroundings. You are difficult to surprise, therefore, you are difficult to harm. You do not expect to be attacked today. You simply recognize the possibility.

Here's an excellent analogy. You are on a small naval patrol vessel in the middle of the Mediterranean. You are not at war with anyone today, so you do not expect to be attacked. You do, however, recognize the possibility, so you have your radar on twenty-four hours a day, making a continuous 360 degree sweep of the area, looking for potential problems. Suddenly, there is a blip on your radar screen. You cannot tell by looking at the small, greenish-yellow dot on the screen whether it is a good thing or a bad thing, so you ask a fighter plane to intercept the blip and check it out. If it is an Al Italia airliner a hundred miles off course, the fighter pilot will wave at it. If it's a Libyan MIG headed toward your boat, he will shoot it down. He won't know whether to wave or shoot until he first assesses the blip as a threat. This is exactly the same process you go through on the ground. When you leave home you turn on your radar, and it continually sweeps the area around you for potential hazards. When something catches your attention, you assess it. If it's not a threat, dismiss it. If it is a threat, start getting ready mentally to deal with it.

Anything or anyone in your immediate vicinity that is unusual, out of place, or out of context, should be viewed as potentially dangerous, until you have had a chance to assess it. Someone who looks out of place, or someone engaged in activity that has no obvious legitimate purpose, should be looked over carefully. When your mental radar picks up on a blip, you immediately escalate one level on the scale, to Condition Orange.

CONDITION ORANGE- This is a heightened state of alertness, with a specific focal point. The entire difference between Yellow and Orange is this specific target for your attention. Your focal point is the person who is doing whatever drew your attention to him. It might be the fact that he is wearing a field jacket in August. It might be that he's standing by a column in the parking garage, instead of going into the building, or getting in a car and leaving. It might be that you have been in five stores at the mall, and saw this same guy in every one of them. His actions have caused you to take note of him, so you must assess him as a potential threat, just as the fighter pilot assessed the blip earlier.

How do you assess someone as a threat? You have to take into account the totality of the cues available to you. His clothing, appearance, demeanor, actions, anything he says to you, are all cues. The single most important cue is body language. About 80% of human communication is through body language. Predators display subtle pre-aggression indicators, which are obvious once you learn to look for them.

When you shift upward to Orange, you begin to focus your attention on this individual that caught your eye, but do not drop your general over-view. You don't want to be blind-sided by his associates. You begin to watch him and assess his intentions, again looking at all of the cues available to you. Nine times out of ten, after a few seconds of observation, you will be able to see an innocuous reason for his behavior and then dismiss him. Once you figure out he's not a threat, dismiss him and de-escalate right back down to Yellow. Who is the tenth one? He is the predator, who would have got you if you had been inattentive. Now that you are aware of him, you are in far less danger.

As you assess this individual, and you see things that convince you he has evil intent, you start to play the "What if…." game in your mind, to begin formulating a basic plan. This is how we get ahead of the power curve. If he acts suddenly, we must have at least a rudimentary plan for dealing with him already in place, so that we can react swiftly enough. By saying to yourself, "That guy looks like he is about to stick me up, what am I going to do about it?", you begin the mental preparation vital to winning the conflict. With even a simple plan already in place, your physical reaction is both assured and immediate, if the bad guy presses his intentions. If, after assessing him, you believe he is an actual threat, you then escalate to the highest level, Condition Red.

CONDITION RED- In Red, you are ready to fight! You may, or may not, actually be fighting, but you are MENTALLY PREPARED to fight. In many, or perhaps even most, circumstances where you have gone fully to Red, you will not actually physically do anything at all. The entire process of escalating from Yellow, to Orange, to Red, then de-escalating right back down the scale as the situation is resolved, occurs without any actual physical activity on your part. The key is that you were mentally prepared for a conflict, and thus could physically act if the situation demanded.

When you believe a threat is real, and you have escalated to Red, you are waiting on the Mental Trigger, which is a specific, pre-determined action on his part that will result in an immediate, positive, aggressive, defensive reaction from you. This is how you achieve the speed necessary to win. By having a "pre-made decision" already set up in your mind, you can move physically fast enough to deal with the problem. Without that pre-made decision, the precious time in which you could have acted was wasted on trying to decide what to do after he starts his attack.

The Mental Trigger will differ depending upon the circumstances. It could be, "If he swings that gun in my direction I will shoot him", for instance. It could be, " I have told him to stop, if he takes one more step toward me with that (knife/tire iron/screwdriver) in his hand, I'll shoot him". Whatever trigger is selected, it is a button that, once pushed, results in immediate action on your part.

Your main enemy is reaction time. If you are not aware of your surroundings, and fail to see the suspicious character, he may overwhelm you before you can marshal an effective defense. On the other hand, if you are thinking to yourself, "I may have to hurt that guy if he doesn't wise up"; you've probably already won that fight, because you have a better understanding of what is transpiring than he does! The best fight is over before the loser fully understands what just happened. If you're caught in Condition White, you will need five to six seconds to realize what is happening, get your wits together, and respond. You simply don't have that much time.

There are a couple of mental tricks you can use in the early phases of your training to assist you in this. Remember that one of the three problems I mentioned earlier in this chapter will be actually "doing it", actually employing lethal force when required. To help with this, each morning when you put your gun on, remind yourself, "I may have to use my gun today". This plants in your subconscious mind (which drives 90% of your life) that there is a reason we wear these guns-we may actually need them to save our lives! When you pick up on that potential threat and escalate to Condition Orange, tell yourself, "I may have to shoot him today!". Believe me, if you have internalized that a specific person is an actual threat to your life, but that you have the means to stop him if need be, it gets easier to mentally deal with the situation.

Let's work through a scenario to illustrate these principles. Let's say you are working in a jewelry store today, a small storefront shop in a strip mall in suburbia. All of the other employees went to lunch and left you here alone. There are not even any customers in the store at the moment, you're alone. What mental state are you in? (Yellow. You are not ensconced in your home; you're out in the real world.) So you keep your head up, and occasionally you scan out through the glass storefront and check out the parking lot. Since there is no one else in the store, any problem will have to come from outside. You want to know about a problem while it's out there, not when it's standing across the counter from you.

As you glance through the glass, you see two men in their early 20's back up an old car to your store, get out in identical jogging suits, enter your door, and split up. Immediately, you go to Orange. They have done nothing illegal, and nothing aggressive, but they are out of place, out of the ordinary, so you escalate your mental state, and begin to think. "This looks like a hold-up in the making. I may have to hurt these guys. What should I do know? If things go bad, I'll drop behind this safe and I can shoot into that wall without endangering anyone on the parking lot. I have a plan." At this point you watch them, and continue to monitor their movements. If they leave, you de-escalate to Yellow once they are gone.

If they stay, they will probably get together on the far side of the store and briefly discuss what they have seen. They will then move toward your position at the counter, and after trying to distract you (Can I see that ring back there?) pull their guns and announce a stick-up. If you have been using the system, you went from Yellow to Orange when they came in, and went to Red as they approach your counter. You are ready. Because criminals have to be adept at reading body language (their lives depend upon this skill), they will see that you are prepared and simply leave. About nine out of ten pairs will leave at this point, without a confrontation. As they drive away, de-escalate from Red, to Orange, to Yellow.

What about the tenth pair? They are drugged, drunk, or both, and failed to recognize your level of readiness. They may go ahead foolishly with their hold-up. According to FBI studies, probably 80% of the ones you will actually have to fight will be under the influence of drugs/alcohol/drugs and alcohol at the time. What's the good news? They're drunk and/or drugged, which plays Hell with their reflexes, reaction time, and motor coordination. They'll be relatively easy to deal with, IF you are mentally prepared (Condition Red) and have done your homework.

If they come in, and upon observing them you go to Orange, then as they approach, to Red, but then they leave, and you de-escalate, you will have gone all of the way up the scale without even reaching for your gun, which is very common. The point is, you would have been ready to reach for your gun if necessary. This is how you win fights, by being mentally prepared to win.