How to remain calm and cool under stressfull situations [Archive] - Glock Talk

PDA

View Full Version : How to remain calm and cool under stressfull situations


jhon
12-12-2011, 12:19
I hope this is proper for this forum as I was not able to find any other forums that this would be proper in. If this is not, mods, would you please move to correct forum? Thanks

-

I have a question I would like to ask the LEO's here that have been in shootings and any military personal that became LEO's that have seen combat?

How does one learn to be able to control their emotions and be able to remain calm in a bad situation or high stress situation before the SHTF?

I am looking for experiences on how you handled it in either case?

If you prefer because of the experience not to reply in forum, please msg me if you would.

Thanks

OXCOPS
12-12-2011, 12:46
Honestly, I think most of it comes down to proper preparation and training. When the SHTF, you will default back to your training. If you have strong fundamentals, that is what will come out when the time comes.

When I was training new officers, I would ask a lot of "what if" questions. For example, when we would pull up behind cars at a red light (with no intention of stopping them), I would ask a rookie, "What would you do if that driver bailed out and started running/started shooting at you/etc.?" It gets them processing possible life threatening situations before they happen.

This helps condition the mind to expect those interactions and have a game plan in place, which helps prevent you from being caught off guard. You truely don't know how you will react when things turn south, but this can help.

Also, know your strengths and weaknesses. If you are good at talking to people, knowing how to use that skill to preemptively avoid an escalation in conflict can save your life. Personally, I am not a big guy. So, I quickly learned how to talk my way through alot of situations instead of fighting my way through them. Saved me some hard knocks over the years.

OXCOPS
12-12-2011, 12:47
Oh....

Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance.

Central Texan
12-12-2011, 13:26
In my experiance there are only 2 things that will help...... training and controling your breathing. Ive been in situations where I dont even remember thinking....training took over and it was like watching a movie filmed through my eyes. Ive been in others that were in slow motion and I was able to analize every move I made.

Nine Shooter
12-12-2011, 13:34
For me its about mindset. I'm not the most muscular guy or someone who eats/sleeps/breathes MMA or Jujitsu. My thing is firearms.

Its not about being cocky, but instead having a mindset that you will do whatever it takes to win, no matter how ugly it gets. Skills you acquire by training and working out supplement this attitude with actual performance gains. By training as much as I can, I know I'm a better shot then most out there so if something does go down, I can draw on the confidence in my own abilities.

They drilled the mindset thing into us. You don't give up. You don't quit. Even if you are shot, stabbed, or have lost the use of body parts. Even if there is a 250 Lb. body builder who knocked you down and is beating your face. There IS a way to win and you WILL find it.

OXCOPS is right about playing out scenarios in your head too. If you have a loose plan for a situation already, you already have the advantage over someone who has to first formulate a plan, then react to a threat. Action is always quicker then reaction.

RetailNinja
12-12-2011, 13:37
never been shot at, just fights and foot chases.

Breathe

Cochese
12-12-2011, 13:53
I had one last night thanks to a felony domestic with weapons.

You don't rise to the occasion, you default to your level of training.

deadcalm4u
12-12-2011, 16:05
You don't rise to the occasion, you default to your level of training.

Well said Cochese.

BamaTrooper
12-12-2011, 16:10
Plan ahead, realize things can go wrong.

Ajon412
12-12-2011, 17:13
You don't give up. You don't quit. Even if you are shot, stabbed, or have lost the use of body parts. Even if there is a 250 Lb. body builder who knocked you down and is beating your face. There IS a way to win and you WILL find it.

NO MATTER WHAT !!!! This is pretty much it...I have to mention this story, as it relates to this topic. I was recently attending an in service training session and the DT instructor walked over to someone in the class and said, "BANG, you've just been shot in your chest(no vest). What are you going to do"? To my amazement, this person said, "I guess I'm gonna die"........:shocked:...Some people just don't get it...

OXCOPS is right about playing out scenarios in your head too. If you have a loose plan for a situation already, you already have the advantage over someone who has to first formulate a plan, then react to a threat. Action is always quicker then reaction.

"When / Then" thinking, instead of "If / Then"...It's more likely "when" then "if" crap is gonna go sideways....After doing this for so many years,both on and off duty, it becomes part of your tactical mindset.....This was just one of those things that I was taught early on, I never forget and I pass along to others.

Vigilant
12-12-2011, 17:20
We have confrontations and other stressful situations inside the fence, but they seldom rise to the level that Law Enforcement on the street sometimes faces. Even so, part of my secret to success involves staying as calm as I can, and not letting anger factor into it. I have found that the more I work on my overall peace of mind, the less chance I stand of getting pissed at someone. In fact, I seem to be getting better at calming someone down, and avoiding the whole fight. That's not always possible, but some times it can work.

texmex
12-12-2011, 17:46
A lot of what's already been said has really hit the nail on the head. Being mentally prepared and alert keeps you from standing there like a deer in the headlights when things happen suddenly. When you are running code 3 to a situation and you are listening to things go south on the radio and you grab your rifle out of the rack, you have to remember to take a few deep breaths so that adrenaline doesn't make your hands start to shake. The first time you do things, you tend to get a little exited or a little emotional. Your first fatal accident investigation. Your first officer involved shooting. You never really get used to them, you just get used to your reaction to them. Experience is good to have. Confidence is good as long as it's not over-confidence.

Gallium
12-12-2011, 18:07
Experience trumps mostly all other things. If you've done something before, there exists a pathway (program) from your cerebrum to your brain stem.

Under stress, the body does weird things, like


- suck blood away from the body's surface and extremities to the core and large muscles.

- reroute blood from the cerebrum, towards the brain stem, and to a lesser extent, the cerebellum

- the afore mentioned epinephrine dump, vasoconstriction, increased respiratory rate, pupilary dilation, auditory exclusion, narrowing field of vision, loss of color processing, possible relaxation of the digestive system, elevated heart rate, increase in bp, dry mouth, feet feel like lead, etc etc.

If you dump enough O2 in your system you MAY get enough to the brain so the cerebrum can work.

Deep, modulated breathing is one surefire way of getting the brain to stay in the game.


G.

packsaddle
12-12-2011, 18:12
attended a 3 day training seminar recently.

the instructor was a retired fed who killed two people during a single high stress incident back in the day.

the incident was documented and confirmed and is currently used for fed training purposes (i even googled it for further info).

he did not tell us about the incident until the last 30 minutes of the 3 day class, which i thought was admirable.

i won't name the instructor but his final words on officer safety was to visualize high stress incidents, while relaxed, and to visualize your actions and your victory.

it worked for him.

DaBigBR
12-12-2011, 19:14
Never, ever, ever, ever stop playing the what-if game. If you have already prepared your mind for something, your body will follow a lot faster.

JohnnyReb
12-12-2011, 20:34
I have never been in a shooting scenario at work, but I have been involved in several use of force incidents. One thing I discovered with myself is, expirence definately takes a role in how your body reacts. In my first couple instances, I had a big adrenaline rush, and I noticed my hands shaking. Definately changes in heart rate and breathing.

As I gained more expirence, I still felt an adrenaline rush, but not to the extent I did before.

I play what if games in my head, and it has really paid off when SHTF. We had a large fight in one of our sections about a year ago, something I had what if'd in my head several times. Everything went down just like I though it would, so my radio communication was spot on, just as I had gone over in my head.

As a result, I was able to properly direct responding officers, and we were able to control the situation as best as we possibly could. Your prior planning might not just benifit you, it benifits others around you.

I would go as far as to say if you don't constantly what if things, you don't have the mentality to do the job required of you.

cowboywannabe
12-12-2011, 20:42
play the "what if" game and have an answer for your "what ifs".

Top_Shot_31
12-12-2011, 21:54
Two books I recommend reading. I am not LE at this point in time, but I have read both of these books cover-to-cover several times and really learn more each time.

Even if you're not looking specifically for readings on deadly force encounters, these two books are VERY interesting if you're like me and just enjoy reading about psychology.

http://www.amazon.com/Deadly-Force-Encounters-Mentally-Physically/dp/0873649354

http://www.amazon.com/Other-Survival-Signals-Protect-Violence/dp/0440508835/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1323748379&sr=1-1

Manolito1
12-12-2011, 22:14
I am not a police officer and only have experience in combat. I will not relate my thoughts since you only asked for Police.
The best book available is directed at all professions that kill for a living
Author Lt. Col. Dave Grossman
Title On Killing
Respectfully,
Bill

razdog76
12-12-2011, 22:21
Never, ever, ever, ever stop playing the what-if game. If you have already prepared your mind for something, your body will follow a lot faster.

That, and think about how your hero LEO(s) would handle it.

Oh, and I forgot "combat breathing." I work in a large county, and could easily have to drive priority 1 for 20 miles. Without proper breathing, you would not be at your best when you arrive.

JBaird22
12-12-2011, 22:25
On Combat by Dave Grossman is actually the better of his two books on the subject. I recommend it.

Its kinda like heroin and that it takes a lot of adrenaline or adrenaline inducing situations to cause me to experience "the dump". Its about experience, training, and prior planning and knowledge of whats going to go down before it goes down. Breathing, and mental preparation as well as tenacity and a refusal to lose are the keys to surviving any incident where interpersonal human aggression takes place.

Aftercare in a mental health sense is just as important. Because surviving the incident does you no good if you don't go on living afterwards.

smokeross
12-12-2011, 22:30
You either got it, or you don't. If you don't have it, you better get it quick.

Agent6-3/8
12-12-2011, 22:55
Lots of good advice in this thread. There are a multitude of factors that allow one to remain calm during a stressful situation. In the ends they all merge together in the form of experience and confidence.

First is training, training, training. This lays the base and gives you the fundamental skills and knowledge to handle a situation. One most certainly does default to their level of training.

Next is the "what-if" game. I and I'm sure many other LE and military folks are constantly running what-if's through their brains. "What-if someone opens fire as I'm approaching this residence?" "What-if a gunman walks in while I'm sitting here eating?" 'What if someone tries to rob me as I'm walking throught he parkign lot?" Etc, etc. The point of these is that having thought ahead of possible issues and having a plan is better than having no plan at all.

Experience...Nothing beats experience. I can quite vividly recall the adrenaline rush I got as a new boot on hot calls. I remeber shaking so much running code to my first domestic that I had to push my feet against the floorboard to keep my legs still. (all while hoping my FTO, calmly puffing his Marlboro, didn't notice) I recall similar responses going to my first bar fight and serving my first warrants on seriously bad dudes. As timed passed and I gained experience the adrenaline rush went away. These days things that once had me so hyped up I couldn't be still barely even raises my heart rate. Before I left my last gig I picked up the nickname "Easy" from one of my Sgt's because nothing seemed to get me worked up.

IMO, remaining calm really boils down to training, experience and confidence in your ability to handle whatever comes your way. I think there is also a genetic element in the equation somewhere. Some people seem to possess a natural ability to stay calm, while others are "stress monsters" that get all worked up.

MB-G26
12-12-2011, 23:57
Ox said, in part: Personally, I am not a big guy.

Um, I've known Pashisha longer than you have, and I can't for the life of me recall her ever complaining :tongueout: :tongueout: :tongueout:

Hollywood D
12-13-2011, 11:12
I think the only way I handle it is through the academy training (being stressed 100% of the time) and my experiences on the street.

In a para-military academy you have instructors yelling at you all the time. Then when you hit the street and you have some clown yelling at you it's no big deal. Actually it's rather humorous.

I'm not sure what the correct term for all that is...'stress inundation' maybe?

scottydl
12-13-2011, 11:50
I am not a police officer and only have experience in combat. I will not relate my thoughts since you only asked for Police.

Please do share! It can benefit us all. I think the OP directed his question at police because it was assumed that police officers would be the ones reading this forum... not because the OP was purposely excluding military-only experience.

Either way, I would like to hear about combat experience anyone can share - and it fits perfectly in this thread as well.

DFinch
12-13-2011, 12:43
Mental preparedness, elimination of denial, stress inoculation and confidence building through experience and training, and acceptance of what you signed up for.

Be honest with yourself about your weaknesses and fix them.

Denial, false confidence or bravado, disbelief, unpreparedness, victim response, lack of true confidence, or unfamiliarity with normal physical stress response can all paralyze you when it hits the fan.

Someone may try to kill you today. Are you ready?

smokeross
12-13-2011, 13:08
Training is very important, but some people seem to be able to react in stressful situations despite a lack of training. That said, I am pleasantly amazed at how quickly my Son, a Veteran of the Somalia conflict, can assess a situation and take charge. I know his Army training is very helpful. I sure like having him around when I venture off into the wilds of Alaska.

OXCOPS
12-13-2011, 14:50
I will share that I defused a heated domestic one night with a fart.

Cochese
12-13-2011, 14:58
I think the only way I handle it is through the academy training (being stressed 100% of the time) and my experiences on the street.

In a para-military academy you have instructors yelling at you all the time. Then when you hit the street and you have some clown yelling at you it's no big deal. Actually it's rather humorous.

I'm not sure what the correct term for all that is...'stress inundation' maybe?


+1

Stress inoculation.

Vigilant
12-13-2011, 17:07
I will share that I defused a heated domestic one night with a fart.

Can't top that, but I answered a radio check once in the same manner. :shocked:

Vigilant
12-13-2011, 17:09
I think the only way I handle it is through the academy training (being stressed 100% of the time) and my experiences on the street.

In a para-military academy you have instructors yelling at you all the time. Then when you hit the street and you have some clown yelling at you it's no big deal. Actually it's rather humorous.

I'm not sure what the correct term for all that is...'stress inundation' maybe?

Or perhaps, not letting people push your buttons...

OXCOPS
12-13-2011, 17:14
Can't top that, but I answered a radio check once in the same manner. :shocked:

He's yelling at her. She's yelling at him. We are yelling at both of them. Just as we start to get them away from each other, the nachos with extra peppers hit. I am lucky it was just a fart, but I couldn't hold it in.

When it ripped, the world stopped and everyone turned my way. After an awkward silence as everyone processed what just happened, the guy (hispanic man) started laughing his ass off. The woman (a BIG hispanic woman) started ranting about how all men must be pigs, not just her husband.

We did our paperwork and he went to a buddies. What started off as a potential powder keg ended up with a peaceful resolution.

To this day, my wife doesn't think a fart can be productive. I beg to differ.

IndyGunFreak
12-13-2011, 17:16
I had one last night thanks to a felony domestic with weapons.

You don't rise to the occasion, you default to your level of training.

Exactly.

Also.. I think being "calm under pressure".. is really something some people are just not capable of.

steveksux
12-14-2011, 00:27
Some people tend to handle stressful situations better than others, I think. Training can improve on what you are born with.

Not exactly the sort the OP asked about, but there's potential for pucker factor 100ft underwater when you go to take a breath and it isn't there...

Part of a class the instructor would sneak up behind us and turn off our air. I still can't believe he caught me by surprise, I just KNEW I'd notice him doing it. Didn't feel a thing.

Training gives you ready options at hand to deal with the situation, you can concentrate on a solution instead of WTFing yourself into a panic trying to formulate a plan from scratch on the fly.

Randy

steveksux
12-14-2011, 00:40
Honestly, I think most of it comes down to proper preparation and training. When the SHTF, you will default back to your training. If you have strong fundamentals, that is what will come out when the time comes.
I will share that I defused a heated domestic one night with a fart.Good plan when the SH and there's no fan to hit, you must improvise and self propel. Curious which academy you learned that in if you don't mind my asking.... :whistling:

+1

Stress inoculation.Had to include this in the fart context, but just couldn't figure out how... :dunno:


In my experiance there are only 2 things that will help...... training and controling your breathing.When you work with OXCOPS.... :rofl:

Randy

series1811
12-14-2011, 05:23
play the "what if" game and have an answer for your "what ifs".

I had a really great partner back in the 80's and he would come up with "what if" scenarios all day. It does take a lot of the stress off, because the biggest stresser in a street situation is to be unsure of what to do.

And, I know this doesn't help new guys, but experience will eventually get you to where you are much relaxed, even to the point where you are too relaxed, and maybe too confident. That point hit me one day when we were rolling up to do a warrant on a drug house with known violent subjects in it, and me and the guy next to me were talking about where we going to eat lunch afterwards, and I realized I had become too relaxed and calm, and really needed to get my head back in the game.

Training is the key, because you will do what you are trained to do in a high stress situation, whether you were trained to do it right or wrong (so it is kind of important for it to be right).

Ajon412
12-16-2011, 22:42
I just saw this on Police One....I think this makes the point:

http://www.policeone.com/gangs/articles/4809448-Theyre-gonna-kill-you-One-warriors-will-to-win/?fb_ref=homepage

SAR
12-16-2011, 23:04
It's training, training, training, and more training... I remember the first time I got behind the wheel of a car in driver training in high school. Man, I was so puckered as I pulled into traffic for the first time. But now, all these years later, I think nothing of pulling into a crowded intersection with a hundred cars hurling at me at 50 miles an hour. I remember the way I puckered the first time I dropped off the skids of a helicopter.. I was sure I was gonna die. If I had to do it today, I would feel nothing but the *rush.* So by the time *my turn* came up to engage, it was just a culmination of everything I had trained for in my career up to that point. It was a *relief* more than any conscious pucker factor for me. I had been in that exact scenario in my mind and in training a thousand times before...

Hack
12-17-2011, 02:19
I think the only way I handle it is through the academy training (being stressed 100% of the time) and my experiences on the street.

In a para-military academy you have instructors yelling at you all the time. Then when you hit the street and you have some clown yelling at you it's no big deal. Actually it's rather humorous.

I'm not sure what the correct term for all that is...'stress inundation' maybe?

Having taken US Army basic, it is probably similar to what you had undergone in academy. I was trained in large part by a Vietnam infantry veteran, so there was a wealth of experience being imparted to us. The yelling is to get you used to it. If you do not get used to how to handle distressing situations in training you will not do well when the real thing happens. That is 100% true. In our case they even did what they could under constraints to teach us what it was like to hear orders in the din of combat, or other noise. If a soldier could not handle stress in basic there was no way he could handle it in combat.

In my current career, I have been in a number of altercations with inmates, visitors, and a few people while on the road during an escort trip, and off duty situations for that matter. Relying on training, experience, and knowledge that is pertinent to a particular type of situation is what I fell back on each time, and still do. Fortunately I have not been shot at, but there have been times I have been looked at closely by thugs who were trying to figure out if I was a threat to them. Quite likely some of them had firearms. That is why I say to people whom I work with, "Carry off duty, and do so smartly." In other words don't be an idiot when you carry off duty.

pac201
12-17-2011, 04:31
“We don’t rise to the level of our expectations; we fall to the level of our training.” Archilochus, Greek Soldier, Poet, c. 650 BC

It has been around more than a little while...

Atomic Punk
12-17-2011, 04:47
i dont have anything very relevant to add to this thread other than what i got in dive training. keep your wits about you, even when your drowning.

mainly making the post so i can follow the great advice being posted by others here.

user
12-17-2011, 08:55
The excitement that causes the adrenaline dump is caused by psychological attachment. In some sense, it's because you care about what's happening that you get excited. Professional detachment is the art of mindful not-caring. That's what allows you to remain objective in the face of danger. And without that objectivity, one is not effective. And effectiveness is all that counts at such times.

If a surgeon were to get worked up because of blood, he wouldn't be able to cut into a living person so as to save that person's life. He has to "not care" in a sense. That doesn't mean suspending a moral and principled basis for what you do, but about having that objective detachment necessary to be effective.

scottydl
12-17-2011, 20:27
Well said, as far as the need to "not care" in certain situations... or at least not be personally attached. It feels weird on a human level sometimes, but is an absolute requirement for our profession.

series1811
12-19-2011, 10:30
Training gets you started, but after a while, I think you just get used to it. I was walking my wife, her sister,and two young and cute nieces to a restaurant one night, and a pack of about ten drunks started catcalling as we walked by. One of them started to walk up to us and I engaged them.

It didn't seem like a big deal to me, they didn't look dangerous, just drunk, and l went up to them and told them to cool it, and they did. Later, my nieces and sister kept talking about how I didn't seem to be upset when dealing with ten drunks,and how quickly they complied. I didn't see it as anything to be nervous about, they were a lot nicer than the people I normally had to deal with every day.

It probably would have made me nervous to deal with ten guys like that when I first started out, and I'm sure I was nervous a lot back then, but it has been so long I just don't remember being like that. :supergrin:

JBaird22
12-19-2011, 16:16
Not freaking out is why scenario based and force on force training are vitally important. Training for a gunfight will make a real gunfight seem like not such a big deal. You can punch holes in paper all day but when you are facing interpersonal human aggression, that's a game changer.

Vigilant
12-19-2011, 16:42
Training gets you started, but after a while, I think you just get used to it. I was walking my wife, her sister,and two young and cute nieces to a restaurant one night, and a pack of about ten drunks started catcalling as we walked by. One of them started to walk up to us and I engaged them.

It didn't seem like a big deal to me, they didn't look dangerous, just drunk, and l went up to them and told them to cool it, and they did. Later, my nieces and sister kept talking about how I didn't seem to be upset when dealing with ten drunks,and how quickly they complied. I didn't see it as anything to be nervous about, they were a lot nicer than the people I normally had to deal with every day.

It probably would have made me nervous to deal with ten guys like that when I first started out, and I'm sure I was nervous a lot back then, but it has been so long I just don't remember being like that. :supergrin:

I think it depends a lot on how one comes across. Someone else of your same height and stature could very well have gotten his butt handed to him by that same crowd. I think there are a lot of turds out there who can 'feel' confidence, and also fear from someone else.

Hollywood D
12-19-2011, 18:55
+1

Stress inoculation.

'inoculation'...I knew I was close