Pay attention all the time is bullshit – how to relax and still be safe

Once you’ve been in the “gun community” for a little while you’ll hear somebody tell you that you have to be in “condition yellow” all the time. Well, I think that’s bullshit. You do not have to pay attention all the time to be safe – if you know when it’s needed you can relax the rest of the time.


Right up front let me just say, I agree with Rory Miller 100 %, you can, and should, pay attention all of the time. It’s called being alive and being present in your own life. You should get out the conversation in your head and be present – notice the smell of the flowers, the breeze on your skin, the amazing people around you. Paying attention like this is incredibly healthy for you and can change your life. Look up just about any Tony Robbins video on YouTube and get to work making your life better. Just remember to come back here and finish reading afterwards


I cannot stand someone telling people to “pay attention”. They never tell you the “to what”, and they never tell you the “when”. And the problem is awareness without knowledge is paranoia. So while you should pay attention all the time, it doesn’t, and shouldn’t, be focused exclusively on danger. You shouldn’t be paranoid (unfounded/arbitrary fear), and the way we do that is to know what we’re doing. So what follows is me having a go at helping you find the balance between scanning for BG’s and smiling to your kids so that you can stay safe, and relax the rest of the time.


If you’re worried about your kid drowning, you don’t walk around stressed out when you’re at the shops and your kid is in the shopping cart in front of you. But aren’t you worried right then? What are you, a bad parent or something? Why can you relax at the shops? Simple, you know what could go wrong, and you know where it could go wrong. So you only worry around baths, pools and the ocean (maybe rain-filled potholes if you live in Africa etc.). If you know when to be alert, then you know when you can relax. Well the good news is that crimes are very similar. Crimes happen in certain places and at certain times, knowing the conditions necessary for various crimes means that your safety will cost you a grand total of about 60 seconds every day, and the other 23 hours and 59 minutes are yours to relax in. At least until you’re around a swimming pool with young kids.


Anybody here ever heard about someone getting mugged while speeding down the fast lane of the highway? If you said something about cops mugging you, well even they have to stop your car before they can extort money. What about somebody getting kidnapped and dragged off in the middle of a shopping mall during Christmas rush? No, I haven’t heard of that happening either. What about a BG dragging you out your car to steal it while you’re on a plane, going to a wedding in another city? Nope, that sounds silly too. Crimes happen in specific places. If you know those places then you know when to switch on your BG radar, and when you can relax.


Each type of crime has a preferred location (Fringe Area). A BG chooses the spot based on a couple basic criteria:

  • Are there targets? (The middle of the desert sucks for the BG because the chances of a victim strolling by are pretty slim.)
  • Will someone else interfere? (The day-before-Christmas-shopping-centre example I always use is chosen because it illustrates that BG’s don’t want other people interfering and helping their target)

And the biggest criteria for choosing a place to commit a crime:

  • Will I get away with it safely? (Ok, this is basically covered by the previous points, but it’s good to keep in mind the overarching goals of the BG.)


Fringe areas are usually places on the fringes of human activity. Often they are transitory places that people move through on their way to somewhere else. The parking lot outside the busy shopping centre at Christmas has a steady stream of potential victims to choose from. And none of them stick around long enough to come to someone’s rescue. It’s far enough away from the crowds inside.


An empty room at teenagers party is a great place for a rape to occur because there’s noise outside the room (little chance of attention from other people and so no interference); and it’s isolated enough (not many people stumble in, and those that do will see something sexual happening and will be polite enough to leave quickly – before they can tell it’s not consensual).


Hijacking (“carjacking” in some countries/legal systems) tends to happen when you’re in your car. But because it’s kinda hard to drag someone out their car while it’s moving real fast, hijackings only tend to occur when you’re stopped (even if they have to make you stop first).


This is why it’s important to define what you’re worried about. What threats are likely to happen to you? Is your city famous for home invasions? For mugging? For kidnappings? Once you identify what’s likely to happen you can tell pretty easily where you need to be alert.


Or you can do what I do. I don’t have any one crime I need to worry about more than others (or more correctly, in South Africa most crimes are pretty common, so you worry about all of them equally). So whenever I change locations, I focus on making sure that I consciously take note of the area I’m in. When I enter the shops (lots of people) I scan for people looking “too aware”. When I leave the shops (not many people) I scan for people who are looking at me and/or moving towards me. When it’s completely deserted (no people) then I ramp up my checking of good ambush spots. But here’s the beauty of it: I scan when I enter an area. Then I relax. Then I scan when I get close to where I’m going (and maybe halfway there). The rest of the time I relax. And relaxing helps me look confident, not like a nervous wreck. Nervous wrecks are often nervous because they know they can’t handle shit. And this makes them better victims.


Once you program yourself to identify Fringe Areas and to notice every time you enter one, then you’ll find that you spend a lot less time worrying about crime.


Now go make sure you’ve read part 1.

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