What Matters – Part Two: Mindset

by: B.D. Pruitt

will: (noun) –

  1. the faculty of conscious and especially of deliberate action; the power of control the mind has over its own actions.
  2. purpose or determination, often hearty or stubborn determination

Will plays a significant role in our everyday lives. Not much happens without purpose or determination – even the determination to do nothing for the day. Every psychologist I’ve heard or read, states that happy individuals choose to be happy. In other words, happy individuals have already made the determination to have a positive mindset, even in adverse circumstances. Mindset, as it pertains to self-defense, is no different.

When it comes to self-defense, mindset can be roughly arranged into three categories:

  1. Awareness
  2. Protection
  3. Survival

Jeff Cooper summed up awareness nicely with his color code system. We teach a Counter Criminal Psychology class at Firearms University that covers mindset and awareness in depth. I won’t make this a treatise on situational awareness, so, suffice it to say that awareness is definitely a part of one’s mindset and the foundation upon which mindset is built.

Protection is the strategic part of mindset, and tends to be the most personalized aspect of one’s mindset. It includes one’s actions, demeanor, and choices. For example, most of us would not go into a known high-crime area intentionally. If we absolutely had to go into a known high-crime area, most of us (hopefully all of us) would take extra precautions to avoid trouble and prepare for trouble if it should find us.

Protection is the most personalized aspect of mindset because each one of us differs in ability and perspective. Someone who is highly trained and skilled in martial arts may not be as cautious in certain situations as someone who is not. Then again, perhaps someone is more cautious than another because of his or her skill and training. Whatever the case may be, protection is a part of the self-defense mindset.

Survival. Is it instinctive? Not necessarily. On February 2, 1998, Officer Katie Conway was assaulted by a mentally deranged lunatic who had been arrested on 17 previous occasions. Her assailant smashed a ‘boom box’ into the left side of her head and then shot her 4 times at point blank range. Officer Conway could have chosen to lie down and die. No one would have thought her weak, or a coward. We would have mourned her passing and called for justice. But Officer Conway didn’t lay down and die. She drew her pistol and shot her assailant twice in the head killing him. Officer Conway survived and recovered.

Did Katie Conway survive because of her instincts? Or, did she survive because she was tenacious, and had an ironclad will to keep fighting and survive?

  1. Awareness
  2. Protection
  3. Survival

We started this dissertation talking about mindset, skillset, and toolset. Mindset being the most important of all. Stop arguing over caliber. Stop worrying about how cool your gear looks to the other guys on the range. Start developing a mindset that will keep you out of trouble, and get you out of trouble should you find yourself in a tenuous situation. With that, you’re far ahead of the guy standing next to you with the latest wizz-bang bullet slinger.

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