If-Then thinking is a simple visualization technique that you can employ to help yourself win a violent confrontation. The concept is relatively simple. Any time you have a free minute, think about IF something bad happened THEN you would respond in this way.
For example, you are pulling through a closed shopping center. You might start thinking “IF I saw a window that was broken in, THEN I would…” Stop and look around. Maybe there is a good cover location you didn’t notice when you first pulled in. How would you direct other units to you? What would you do if suddenly an armed man came out of the business. Think through possible scenarios and your actions you would take to win the confrontation.
I often find myself doing this just prior to a traffic stop. Just before pulling a car, I often start thinking about who and what I see in the car, what could happen when I hit my lights, and what the occupants may do. In just a few seconds, I can run through a number of possible actions the occupants may take and how I will handle them.
Dave Spaulding, a retired police lieutenant and long-time trainer, wrote an article called “What Really Happens in a Gunfight?” Spaulding interviewed a lot of gunfight survivors over the years and pieced together some common factors. One of the factors he found was that people who used visualization were prepared to take action, and were able to do so with little lag time. Basically, instead of thinking “I can’t believe this is happening,” people who had used visualization already had a programmed response and were taking action without having to take time to analyze everything.
Some of the concrete benefits of If-Then thinking include:
- shortened response time
- you are far less likely to freeze when confronted with violence
- you tend to be more alert and more likely to use proper tactics
- less likely to under- or over-react