The first and fundamental foundation of personal safety and security is to KNOW that trouble can emerge at any time; it can pop up out of nowhere and appear suddenly.
Knowing this to be a fundamental principle, you can train yourself to be alert and to be ready – a subconscious alertness – while not interfering with your day-to-day lifestyle.
For fundamental situational awareness,
The two things that you need to ingrain into your mental alertness are:
1. Scrutinize what’s out of place
2. Know what’s behind you
Try not to ever be surprised.
We all have some inherent level of alertness built-in to our DNA; we are predators after all…
The problem is that many of us have become complacent in our (seemingly) secure surroundings and environment. Our shields drop and we discount or ignore the fact that we still live in a predatory world – one in which we could become the next victim.
We must first reaffirm the notion that we do live in a dangerous environment (some more than others), and once we accept this, it will result in a natural honing of our alertness.
Scrutinize What’s Out-Of-Place
Things (or people) that are out of place ‘can be’ an indicator that something’s not right. I say ‘can be’ because there are many false alarms – however all it takes is that one out of a hundred.
Some things are obvious. A suspicious group of young men standing together, not talking to each-other – this is a conspicuous circumstance and should set off your internal alarm bells.
Someone is following you in a car, or at least you suspect it because they are matching your turns or staying the same distance behind you for a long period of time.
You notice that someone else (who noticed you) is prompted into action when they see you. By having seen you, a response is triggered. This is an alert. The behavior of someone else that appears to be prompted or geared to your behavior, needs to be explained.
Other potential trouble is not so obvious. For example, unless you have scheduled or brought it on upon yourself, do not necessarily trust the appearance and credentials (which can be falsified) of a uniformed person (a service person, an inspector, authority figure, etc.), especially if someone arrives at your dwelling.
A stranger comes to your door. Your alert level should be high. Do not automatically presume that the developing situation is trustworthy.
As you walk through your daily life, be observant of your surroundings and look for things that don’t fit. Do not be all caught up in your thoughts about other things, especially when out in public.
Keep your head up, be confident and look around you as you walk or interact with the world around you. If nothing else, it enables you to enjoy your surroundings and expand your horizons.
What’s Behind You?
You’ve heard the saying “Have eyes in the back of your head”. There’s a reason for that. Many (most?) attacks come from behind!
Hardly anyone (who I observe) ever looks behind them.
This is because it requires a conscious effort to actually turn your head and look behind. It’s not as subconscious a behavior as being observant of what’s out of place, etc.
The more you train yourself to do it though, the more instinctive it will become, and eventually it will not be an intrusive action which interrupts your thought process or conversation, etc.
Use your ears to hear what’s behind you.
The more alert you become, the easier it will be to recognize your sixth-sense when it speaks to you. Trust your instinct when it doesn’t ‘feel right’. Turn and glance behind you.
Don’t be surprised!
For example, Mrs. J. and I walk a-lot with our dog on one of several nearby public trails. There have been many times when we’ve observed the surprise of others as we’ve gained ground on them and pass them on the trail. They obviously had no clue we were there – too caught up in their own thoughts or conversations (or headphones plugged into their ears listening to music), etc.
There are countless situations and examples of these two principles of situational awareness. Practice them and they will become natural, while not interfering in any way with your normal activities. It may seem intrusive at first, but trust me, it will become 2nd nature.