As most of the world knows, there were two mass shootings over the weekend in the United States. First, the Saturday shooting in El Paso, TX at a Walmart that killed 22 and injured 27 people. Then, the early Sunday morning shooting in Dayton, OH in a nightlife district that left 9 dead, and more than 30 people injured.
When I read about these events, I immediately thought, “what would I do if I had been at that Walmart or outside that bar?”.
In the Store
If I had been inside the store in El Paso, I pictured a grocery cart half-full of groceries, my two small children begging me for some item not on my list, and then I imagined hearing the shots. I pictured grabbing my purse and putting it on my shoulder. I imagined grabbing both my kids’ hands and speed-walking with them towards the back of the store. I pictured heading for the exits I’d made note of during previous shopping excursions.
Outside the Bar
If I’d been in the nightlife district in Dayton, I pictured standing with my friends on the sidewalk, waiting for a taxi or rideshare car. We’d be laughing about feeling too old to stay out so late and how the few drinks consumed were probably going to give us headaches in the morning. I pictured myself scanning for the taxi or car and observing the other people on the sidewalk. I pictured noticing the shooter walking up to the crowd (not because I think I’m always going to have perfect situational awareness, but because I firmly believe in mentally focusing on a scenario that has a successful outcome). I want to have the mindset that I will be aware, I will see danger, and I will take immediate action to get myself and my loved ones out of harm’s way.
Did I feel fear going through those mental scenarios?
If someone says they don’t feel fear thinking about a life or death situation, they’re lying.
What Did I Think About?
I thought about what my two kids might be asking while speed-walking to the back of the store. How I would need to convince them to run in the store after I’ve told him a million times NOT to run in the store.
I thought about telling my friends we need to leave NOW. Grabbing their arms and pulling them to the nearest barricade option. Maybe it would be a parked car, maybe a dumpster across the street, or maybe around a corner of the building. Due to the circumstances involved with the Dayton shooting- the time of night, lack of visibility, the crowds of people- I know we would have very little time to act. We would have mere seconds to get to safety.
How Are You Feeling Right Now?
Are you holding your breath right now reading this? Are you mentally picturing the scenarios I’ve described above? Are you picturing yourself doing all those things?
Mentally putting yourself in those situations, going through the steps you would take to keep yourself and loved one safe, is the first step in taking responsibility for your safety. It’s uncomfortable and scary, but wouldn’t you rather come up with your plan while sitting in the safety and comfort of your own home instead of hoping it never happens to you?
You Can’t Stop Living Your Life
One of my favorite quotes, “Fear does not stop death, it stops life” by Vi Keeland, is a great mantra. Are you going to stop grocery shopping? Sure, you can start using home delivery services and swear you will never step inside a grocery store again, but what happens when you need something last minute? What happens when it’s 8pm and you realize you’re in charge of bringing the snack for your kid’s class the next day or the side dish for the potluck at work?
Are you never going to go out with friends? Are you never going out to see a movie, go to a show, or listen to your favorite band? I hope not! Life is meant to be lived! We don’t cherish things; we cherish the memories of experiences associated with those things.
What Can You Do?
A lot of situational awareness is mental preparedness.
Do you know what’s great about that? You can practice those skills anytime, anywhere, and you don’t need anyone with you.
When I teach, or as I mention in the Daily Habits video in the online training program, you can start practicing right now to become more aware of your surroundings. Practicing your observational skills (it’s not only what you see!), working on your memorization (what details can you recall from your day?) and making a point to notice one thing on every person you meet (even with family and friends), will help you hone your situational awareness skills.
I want women to understand they already have awareness skills. They simply need to sharpen those skills.
That’s why I started The Diamond Arrow Group. I want to help any woman take the next step (or first step) in learning how to trust their intuition. I believe women should be able to move forward with confidence and live life on their own terms.
“We avoid the things that we’re afraid of because we think there will be dire consequences if we confront them. But the truly dire consequences in our lives come from avoiding things that we need to learn about or discover.”
— Shakti Gawain