Emerson Combatives: The Survivor’s Mindset

Ernest Emerson | Contributor

A lot of people want to know what it takes to survive a life or death situation, or a high stress, dangerous situation. How do you get through such an event in a safe manner? A large part of that ability is because of the mentality that you have, the attitude you have, the mindset. People call it survivor’s mindset.

When I’m dealing with military and law enforcement, we call it the combat mindset. But what is it that those people possess, those survivors who are in those environments that enables them to be able to act accordingly, do the right things and survive? What is it that they have psychologically that’s helping them do those life-saving actions under intense pressure?

The ability to survive in a life or death situation is based making the right choices and making them quickly. The first choice is to make the decision that you’re going to do something to protect yourself, to harden the target so to speak.

Lives are going to depend on your decision and in the extreme case you may have to be willing to die to keep others safe. That sounds elemental and maybe too basic, but most people just glide along through life never thinking about what to do if someone truly threatens your life or the lives of your family. There’s a million ways that people are actually assaulted but there’s only one choice to be made for the survivor’s mindset. Will you, without hesitation, be willing to fight to the death with every fiber in your soul to accomplish your goal and complete your mission? If you can with honest conviction answer yes to that question then you and I can have this ongoing discussion. Read on.

You must realize that you are responsible for your own safety and the protection of your loved ones. So making that realization is the first step.

Now interestingly enough, that separates you from most of the herd.

The decision that you are going to do something to protect yourself is really the fundamental step you have to take. I understand most people that are reading this article already made that decision but can you convince others to think the same way? The more people with a survivor’s mindset you surround yourself with creates a safer environment for everyone.

Saying something doesn’t make it happen. Saying something and then doing it is how it happens. You have to make the proactive psychological decision, “I’m ready to face violence.” Reduced to simple terms, if you are not willing to shoot someone, don’t get a gun for self-defense.

Most people have never faced extreme physical violence. It’s a scary thing. It’s something that thank God most of us will never have to face because we live in a somewhat civil society. But it’s out here, and if you’re preparing for the worst you have to think about the worst. You have to be prepared to face the worst things that other humans are able to do to other humans.

You need to make a decision that you will never ever lose, you will never give up, and you will never quit.

You need to think in terms of no matter how hard it gets, no matter how horrible it is, no matter how difficult, no matter what is going on around you, don’t lose sight of your goal, and your goal is to survive. Your goal is to protect your loved ones. Your goal is to protect innocents from harm. The idea about never quitting is epitomized by the training of the US Navy SEALs and all other warfighters. If you don’t believe me just ask a U.S. Marine.

Sometimes the bad guy does win, but unless you are dead or you’re on the floor not breathing and unconscious, if you have one ounce of strength left in your body, you will continue on. And that’s part of that combat mindset. You need to use everything you have in your arsenal to get yourself out of the situation safely.

This is not lightweight stuff. In the most extreme of cases, are you willing to take another human being’s life? That’s the probably most difficult decision that any person will ever face. It’s built into our societal fabric not to cause harm to our fellow species. You have to develop a mindset where you have already thought through the fact that those are the things you could have to face. You have to be aware of them so that when they happen, you’re not caught in that fugue state of frozen terror and inaction. A survivor’s mindset develops clear focus under pressure.

The survivor’s mindset helps to give you the ability to push yourself to the most extreme limits of both psychological and physical exhaustion whenever it happens. Those things have to be minor speed bumps that you’re going to hop over on your way to the finish line. A lot of people think they can do things, but thinking you can do it and being able to do it, well sometimes there’s a wide gap in between, and that’s the wedge that the bad guys have.

The bad guys have a combat mindset, don’t kid yourself, they like doing what they’re doing. They’re at ease doing it, and they do it again and again so they practice being in that state psychologically. They are predators.

So the combat mindset and survivor’s mindset is really you preparing yourself psychologically to meet violence, to do violence and to not be deterred by what you consider the most horrific things that you would have to face against another human being if you have to. But even if it is to ensure the safety of yourself and your loved ones you are still going to need a clear conscience. We will talk about the vital importance of moral clarity in an upcoming article.

Ernest Emerson is the owner of Emerson Knives, Inc. He is a tier one Combatives instructor, Master at Arms, noted author and lecturer, Black Belt Hall of Fame member and a connoisseur of fine whiskey.

Click here to visit EmersonKnives.com. Mr. Emerson offers a 10% discount on his knives to Daily Caller readers. Use the discount code – tdc (all lower case). Click here to visit the Emerson Training Center.

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