Color Codes of the Combat Mindset

Have a Plan.
Be Aware of the Color Codes of the Combat Mindset.
Avoid the “Oh, Shit” Moment.

“I Can’t Believe This Is Happening … And I Don’t Know What To Do!”

[AKA the ICBTIH … IDKWTD Syndrome]

Whoever said that didn’t have a plan.

What’s worse, they didn’t even know that they didn’t have a plan.  Because they never thought that they’d need a plan … for this!

Whatever THIS is, it took them completely by surprise.

We often forget that even really good people in really good neighborhoods living really good lives, can be confronted with really really bad things.

Through no fault of their own. Pardon my sounding glib, but life happens. And life includes all sorts of … stuff.

But how do you plan for what you don’t know might happen?

We teach Col. Jeff Coopers “Color Codes of Mental Awareness” as a tool to help us migrate from dazed and asleep to prepared in order to take the appropriate action to alleviate a threat.  If you are aware of your state of awareness (or lack thereof), you can take the necessary steps to move to the next appropriate level of action.

Let’s look a little closer at these ‘color codes of the combat mindset’ and see how they can actually help us avoid the “ICBTIH … IDKWTD” syndrome.

The Four Color Codes of the Combat Mindset:

Condition White is, simply put, unaware, asleep.  Descriptions that come to my mind include distracted, preoccupied, unconcerned, self-absorbed, careless, reckless. My list could go on for a while.

Unfortunately, a great number of modern-day Americans spend much of  their entire day (life?) in Condition White. And a peculiar aspect of Condition White is that, by definition, if you’re in it, you’re not aware that you’re in it. Make sense? The only way out of Condition White is to move to the next level, which is Condition Yellow.

Condition Yellow should be how we spend most of our time, once we’re awake & ready for the day. Condition Yellow happens consciously: we choose to be in a state of relaxed, comfortable awareness of our surroundings. We are proactive in observing our environment. We notice the people near us, we map the layout of the room we’re in, we look both ways (twice) before stepping off the curb, even if the sign says “walk.”

Being in Condition Yellow does not mean that we are paranoid, hypersensitive and on edge. It only means that we are paying attention to our immediate environment: we’re alert, alive, and aware. And we’re not just looking for ‘bad stuff’ … quite the contrary.

As a matter of fact, we’re apt to see as much, if not more, good stuff in life than bad stuff. But if we do see ‘bad stuff’, we are aware of the fact that we see it, and we can now choose to move to the next state of awareness: Condition Orange.

Condition Orange represents a state of awareness where you have recognized and identified a specific threat that you are now focusing all (or nearly all) of your attention on. It may be an out-of-control driver coming at you on the road, or it may be that guy who came into the pharmacy wearing a hooded sweatshirt … in July. Or any of a myriad of other scenarios.

Because you were already in Condition Yellow (comfortably aware), you were more apt to recognize the ‘threat’ that has now caused you to escalate into Condition Orange.

Condition Orange allows you to make choices: using a predetermined set of possible triggers, you choose your next action.  If the oncoming car continues into your lane, you’ll swerve to avoid it (but you’ve already checked your blind spots because you were in Condition Yellow when you first saw the oncoming car).

If the hooded dude pulls a knife or a gun to rob the store, you’ll take your next course of action. That may be to run, to yell for help, or to shoot him, or whatever action you have previously determined in the “if he does this / I’ll do this” scenario you have in your mind.

Based on your training, your tools at hand, your level of skill, and a host of other factors, you’ll make a choice: and that choice may very well to escalate to the next mental condition: Condition RED

Condition Red represents the mental state in which you take the necessary actions to stop the threat. This is your fight response. It is triggered by the if / then conditions set forth in Condition Orange. Your mental trigger has been thrown. If the threat (identified in Condition Orange) takes a specific action, then I will take this specific action (shoot him, as one example) to stop the threat.

We’ll continue this discussion next time.  We’ll talk about the ‘predetermined triggers’ (kind of an “if / then” formula), and we’ll talk about levels of training that allow you to make the right choices.

The point is that because you were aware (Condition Yellow), and prepared (Condition Orange), you are now able to choose how to handle the situation.

My emphasis today has focused on your awareness of being aware.

Incorporate the four color codes of the combat mindset into your daily routine, and see if you not only notice more stuff around you, but also if you don’t begin to envision “what if…”

Till next time, stay safe, be aware, and keep yer powder dry.

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