Ever get fixated on something?
Notice how your fixation enables you to collect a lot of data about whatever you are fixated on? That’s good.
Notice how your fixation denies you data collection about everything else around you? Well, you probably didn’t notice because you were fixated on something. 🙂 And that’s potentially bad.
Of course, for fixation to be good or bad depends upon circumstance and context. In a personal defense context, it can be a bad thing. Why? Well, if you get fixated on one thing, missing out on others could cause you greater hurt.
For example, if you are driving and get fixated on the accident on the other side of the road, your rubbernecking may prevent you from noticing the car in front of you just stopped… and now you have your own accident as you rear-end the the car in front of you.
Or, you get focused on that one guy acting strange, and you don’t notice his buddy sneaking up from the other side to whack you on the head.
We get target-fixated. That’s a human thing to do. What we must do in response is realize when we are getting fixated and break the fixation.
Scanning is a fundamental tool to break fixation.
Think to yourself “SCAN! SCAN! SCAN!”. We yell this a lot during Defensive Pistol Skills 1 classes at KR Training. Notice it’s in a “level 1” defensive skills course. It’s that fundamental a skill. It’s that important to learn how to break your target fixation. It gets you off whatever you are fixated on and resumes your consumption of information from the world around you. It doesn’t stop paying attention to whatever you were fixated upon, it just resumes paying attention to other things as well because there may be something else that demands your attention. And then you’ll get fixated again, and then you’ll need to break that fixation again.
What motivated me to write this was walking to the gym the other morning. It’s early morning, dark. It’s rare to see other people out, so when I saw this guy walking further up the road from me, of course it caught my attention and my guard went up. He was walking the same direction I was, so I didn’t feel any sort of immediate threat, but I paid attention. Then I broke attention and started to scan, because I felt myself getting fixated on him. He drifted to the other side of the road, and I did the opposite, working to keep distance between us. He kept slowing down, and tho that caused me to close distance (I kept my same pace), I realized he never once looked up, never once looked around despite the fact I was getting closer – my footsteps were obvious. Eventually he turned right, into a park, and kept on walking. Never once looked my way. And as I realized he was just some dude walking somewhere, I couldn’t help but think his total obliviousness to me could have been dangerous for him — what if it was some bad guy coming to mug him?
Then as I passed him I took one last look over at him as he was walking away… and I saw how fixated he was on his smartphone.