This article is all about listening.
NOT with your ears but listening to that inexplicable feeling you sometimes get that something’s wrong. It’s that thing when driving that you just know the idiot in front is going to do something really STUPID! No reason for it, it’s just that gut feeling.
I recall a couple of statements that go “if you think something is wrong it usually is” or “Whenever there is any doubt, there is no doubt.” On the streets they are powerful aids for survival.
Your SIXTH SENSE, that GUT FEELING, aka INTUITION.
Some ‘experts’ dismissively say that it is an evolutionary genetic trait. A survival skill brought about by the need to read the intentions of persons who could hurt them and their offspring. Only what a fantastic skill it is. Certainly when it comes to reading non verbal communications, some women are streets ahead of men.
It doesn’t stop there though.
Intuition has been described as “intellect without fear” and “a state of logic beyond logic or experience.” I just know it as a gut feeling.
Luckily that sixth sense is strongly exhibited by my wife.
Something that I learnt to trust a long time ago.
“Don’t go there” or “Something’s wrong” in all manner of situations.
Finally I add the “I don’t trust them”. A 100% correct judgement call.
She says that there is no reason for her judgement, it’s just a feeling, however it’s been proven repeatedly that she has picked up on something REAL which she couldn’t have possibly seen, heard, or smelt. How does she do it? “I just knew” is the usual answer.
Professional “gut feelings”
In military high stress situations that sixth sense can literally save your life. It’s the ‘knowing’ that something is not right. That “feeling” you are being watched or not alone.
As a lone night worker, the routes and locations I used to travel were a mixture of rural and urban. Many a time I have been “unsettled” by something, that feeling that all is not quite right that makes you think twice about leaving the car, entering a building, or even carrying out a task. It’s quite common in lone outdoors workers (especially night workers) that they will tell you they start to pick up on non tangible things.
It’s the same when working with the most dangerous animal of all THE GENERAL PUBLIC. Especially in high stress environments. You start to pick up on things. ESPECIALLY Aggression, fear, and unstable personalities.
You can “train to notice” things i.e. profiling BUT after a while you just KNOW something is wrong. Those who can’t usually end up HURT!
Doggy sixth sense.
I have been walking down paths and the dog has blocked further access.
No definite reason, just a “I wouldn’t go down there” sort of thing.
Sat at home the dog starts to growl. I have heard nothing yet when I’ve have checked, there is always something there. Remember the owl incident?
I have driven down roads at night and the dog gets distressed YET on other nights it’s fine. How to explain that? Dogs have senses we can only dream of developing. They hear all, smell things that we would never have noticed, and pick up on things that are just not “right”.
That is IF YOU CAN PICK UP ON THAT PROMPT and trust your dog!
Applying this to survival.
As a rule I always try to think with my head and not my heart YET there are times when you have to listen to your inner self, your intuition or 6th sense.
You can train all you like for events, practising drills and responses to situations,
yet occasionally your 6th sense is probably more accurate a gauge to safety than your calculating assessment of what is actually going on.
Where it works for me is in preventing me “blindly” walking into a situation I shouldn’t have got into in the first place. I look at it as an aid to situational awareness or, as said, “Whenever there is any doubt, there is no doubt” and I usually abort.
On the other hand, too much thought, too much intuition can induce a choking like effect on your thought processes and, in extremes, interfere with your training. Some call that indecision or even freezing, but there are a couple of thoughts about the cause of that.
Don’t know about you but I don’t do multi-tasking. Never could, never will.
Thus for me it’s difficult to ‘work’ in a fast-moving, heavy information scenario.
It often invokes the fight, flight, or ‘hit the deck’ mechanism within me.
Fight is simple and probably the worst reaction of all.
That’s when I fall back onto training.
Those immediate action drills i.e. Drop, Cover, Fire.
When you are in ‘automatic mode’, you can become very target/goal fixated.
So by blindly following a muscle memory, you may put yourself into a more dangerous situation.
Flight is a bit more complex.
Take night walking. It can be a curious mix of you being:-
- Being totally mission fixated, nothing puts you off so no problem there.
- “What the hell was that?” to a rustle in the bushes, and the hair stands up on your neck.
- “It’s too damn quiet” which plays on the active mind.
For example. You are used to city noises but you walk into an area which is obscured, i.e. the design of a ‘courtyard’ is such that it both night noise and light become subdued. Or you walk from outside to ‘inside’ and simply lose your visual references.
Both can invoke the flight mode i.e. it raises the heart and breathing rate, up your core temperature, pupils dilate and sight sharpens, and more importantly our overall awareness (6th sense) intensifies.
Only the step into THINKING EVERYTHING in the locality is a possible threat to your survival is easily crossed. Nothing is measured from then on and you will usually go into purely reactive mode. (Run, dive, or quick kill).
Now I don’t care what sort of warrior you think you are, everyone is scared of something and that something may invoke VERY powerful emotions and reactions.
For example, an event / mission that may have turned sour a while ago with the same basic format as what you are doing. Bats, rats, spiders, a smell being one of the most powerful of emotion stirrers.
Right then, as your nightmare kicks in, it can override clear thinking and a sort of feral 6th sense takes over, thus a perceived threat will appear real and 9/10 times you will over react to it.