Day 345 – The Need For A New System

There are many systems of combat arts and martial arts out there. There are many survival and wilderness schools. There are many prepper sites and stores. There are shop classes and home economics classes in school. There are math application classes that teach how to balance your check book and take care of your taxes. There are first aid, Stop-The-Bleed, and CPR classes. There are Psychological First Aid and Critical Incident Stress Management Classes. There are FEMA Incident Command classes for isolated, multiple, and expanding incidents. There are search and rescue courses. There are orienteering classes and clubs. What do all of these things have in common? They are all teaching important life skills. These are all things that every adult should know in order to have the right tool for the right job.

We believe that there should be a school or a system that integrates some of all of these things into a training course for living. This would be a course that prepares you for routine life as well as handling trauma and crisis. It would include everything from changing a tire to surviving a volcano to subduing an attacker. It would equip you to handle the issues you encounter on a psychological level, integrate them into the total you, and move forward. A “black belt” in this system would be a force to be reckoned with. This is the person you would always want to have around.

Captive Audience is in the process of creating just such a system. When we are ready, we are going to launch a survival and combat school which integrates everything above and much more besides. Would you attend?

Day 344 – Combat Breathing

Combat breathing a very straightforward, easy to do, and an enormously effective tool for emotional lowering.

  1. Go to a place where you feel as secure as you can
  2. Relax
  3. Close your eyes
  4. Breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds
  5. Hold your breath for 4 seconds
  6. Breathe out through your mouth for 4 seconds
  7. Hold your breath for 4 seconds
  8. Repeat

It is helpful to visualize healthy attitudes entering you as you breathe in and unhealthy attitudes leaving you as you breathe out. As you grow more comfortable with the exercise, you can begin to pay attention to your body, how it feels and what it is doing, while you combat breathe. Un-tense your muscles. Un-clench your jaw. Let your lungs expand. Let your stomach relax and poke out comfortably. Let your shoulders drop.

Give it a try. You will be amazed at how much better and clear headed you will feel.

Day 343 – Defeating The Amygdala

According to Wikipedia, “The amygdala is one of two almond-shaped clusters of nuclei located deep and medially within the temporal lobes of the brain in complex vertebrates, including humans. Shown in research to perform a primary role in the processing of memory, decision-making and emotional responses (including fear, anxiety, and aggression), the amygdalae are considered part of the limbic system.”

While that biology assessment is sound, that is not all there is to it. The Amygdala is where we process emotional responses to stimuli. This tiny place on the human body can control the entire person. All of us, at one time or another, have been at the mercy of our emotions. We have all been in situations where we act rashly, lash out, cry, say things we wish we hadn’t, tremble, freeze, panic, run away, etc. In those times, we were allowing the amygdala to control us with fear or anger. We were succumbing to chemicals. According to Ben Best “Responses can be evoked by amygdala stimulation. The bed nucleus of the stria terminalis mediates the release of pituitary-adrenal stress hormone (Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone, CRH) in response to fear. CRH causes the adrenal gland to release epinephrine & cortisol.” What we commonly call Adrenaline is actually Epinephrine. This is the hormone responsible for making you feel fear: sweaty palms, tachycardic heart rate, narrowed or tunnel vision, trembling, unsteady voice, dilated pupils, a decreased sensitivity to pain, increased sweating, an urge to run, etc.

Why do we need to know this? Well, we cannot hope to overcome what is happening to us until we know what it is and how it works. Now that we know that, we can develop some counter measures to calm ourselves down and stay in control. Here are some measures that you can employ real-time, to counter what your brain is doing in a crisis situation…

  1. Take a deep breath and pause
  2. S. T. O. P. (Stop. Think. Observe. Plan.)
  3. Combat breathing (we will go into detail about that in tomorrow’s post)
  4. Focus on the very next thing you need to do
  5. Calm the people around you with soft and reassuring words
  6. Pray
  7. Think of something funny
  8. Laugh
  9. Think of one muscle group at a time and make a conscious effort to relax it
  10. “Listen” to a calming song in your own mind
  11. Maintain logic and act, based upon that logic
  12. Recite reassuring Scriptures/Holy Texts from your faith
  13. Develop and recite your own calming mantra over and over
  14. Visualize a beautiful and serene place
  15. Recall the smell that you like best in all the world
  16. Visualize and recall the taste of the most scrumptious meal ever
  17. Rub your thumb and forefinger together softly
  18. Recall your own name and identity, age, location, and time of day
  19. Consciously feel the clothes on your own body
  20. Stretch

All of these things can help you take back control and stay ahead of your biology in a crisis situation. Remember that panicking is abandoning logic for instinct. Maintain a tenacious hold on logic and do not give it up for instinct.

Day 342 – Willing And Able

This is the person I want to be. I want to have a good attitude and a healthy worldview, along with ability to act where and how I want to act. These are the easiest people with whom you can work. They are a blessing and a half in a crisis or survival situation. They can make all the difference to the mission and the morale of all involved. They need little to no external motivation because their own, internal worldview motivates them. They need little to no coaching or oversight because of their capabilities. Just tell them what you need and let them do it without micro management.

As you prepare the battle space in advance, first evaluate which kind of person you are. If you are not who you want to be, now would be the time to change that. Next, start identifying the different types of people in your existing circles: home, work, faith community, sports team, hobbyists, etc. If a crisis occurs, there is a very high likelihood  that you will be with one of these groups when it happens. Start figuring out who your willing but unables are, who your able but unwillings are, who your unwilling and unables are, and who your willing and ables are. War game scenarios in your head and practice how you would deal with each type now, while you have time and space to do so.

Day 341 – Unwilling And Unable

You do not work with these people. In a crisis, you simply protect them. The unwilling and unable person is simply going to be dead weight. It is not a matter of motivation. When the fight for survival is raging, that is not the time to try to figure out what to do with them. Now is the time to decide that you will do your best to protect them, no matter how galling it may be. You can sort it out when the battle is won. This is one of the most profound examples of unfair, but you may be in a situation with a person who is both unwilling and unable. If you spend time trying to convince or coerce them into helping you, you will lose valuable time and resources as you fight on two fronts: one against the situation and one against them. Let them be and focus on handling the situation. Let your own worldview motivate you to act according to your convictions, and do the best you can with what you have.

Day 340 – Able But Unwilling

This is a very hard person with whom to work. Yesterday, we discussed the importance of attitude. In a crisis situation, there is nothing as maddening as having someone who is able to do what needs to be done, but is unwilling to do it. It all comes down to motivation. If you find yourself in this situation, you may have be creative or even devious in order to get this person to do what you need them to do. Some people freeze. Some people run away. Some people lapse into a selfishness that causes them to look out for number one and totally disregard the needs of others.

Years ago, I was babysitting my three year old nephew for a few days as his baby brother was being born. When his mom, dad, and brother headed home from the hospital, I initiated some clean up of the guest room, in which he had been staying, so that I could take him home. I put his bedding in the laundry and, when it was dry, I had him go with me to put the bed back together. I thought it was only fair, since he had been the one using it. I grabbed a pillow and a pillowcase, handed them to him, and asked him if he would like to help me by putting the pillow into the pillow case. He simply said, “No.” as he stood there, holding them. I was surprised and asked him why. In an innocent, three year old kind of a way, he looked me straight in the eye and said, “I don’t want to do the work.” I had to smile at how unapologetically he said something like that. I nodded and took them out of his hands and said, “Well, I appreciate your honesty, if not your intentions.”

I have never forgotten that encounter. It made a deep impression upon me. Adults will rarely be so direct and will most likely not admit to being lazy or selfish or even scared. However, that may be what you are confronting when a person is able but unwilling. In a crisis situation, when lives are on the line, you may have to begin barking out strongly worded orders to get their cooperation. I am sure we all agree that, in routine life when nothing is facing imminent destruction, we should be patient and kind and gentle as we try to motivate an unwilling person. However, in a crisis, you will not have that luxury. As you prepare your battle space in advance, you will need to figure out if you have it within you to take charge and offer that kind of strong leadership.

Day 339 – Willing But Unable

In a survival situation, a willing but unable person is still a tremendous asset. Attitude and worldview are far more important than individual capabilities. Willingness covers absolutely everything. Ability only covers some things. A person who is willing to be of help and service, or do what it takes to keep themselves and others alive, can be invaluable even if they are unable to help in the way they wish they could.

Let me give you an example. Let us say that you are in a firefight and someone who wants to keep fighting gets seriously wounded. They are bleeding from an artery and will die in minutes without emergency help. They want to be whole and strong and stay on their feet in the fight, but they are unable. You rush to their side and drag them behind cover that is not really enough cover for two of you. They are still awake and coherent. What do you do? Do you tell them to lie back and relax and close their eyes? No! You put their weapon (or yours) in their hand and tell them to cover you while you apply a tourniquet and a pressure bandage. As you save their life, you ask them to guard yours and theirs. This allows you to turn your attention from the fight to the casualty while the bullets keep flying. They may be unable to stay on their feet but they are able to stay in the fight.

A person who is willing but unable can still do something to contribute in almost every situation. A bed ridden patient in the hospital can still contribute to the morale of the other patients, medical staff, and visitors by offering encouragement, a good attitude, and a smile. Willingness is an attribute we need to cultivate in ourselves and in others. The act of being willing can overcome the inability that stares you in the face.

Day 338 – Mental Arts: Part 10

46. Panic kills.
47. Small victories lead to large victories.
48. You will live up or down to your own expectations.
49. Work is a privilege.
50. No one will cooperate with you if you want to make life all about yourself. However, if you want to make life all about others, they will move mountains to help you.

These did not come free to me, nor did they come cheap. They are the result of some monumental struggles, pain, fear, and failures. However, they are my treasures now and I offer them to you for free.