Sara Ahrens’ Offbeat: Sara shares her thoughts on how to be divergent when it comes to self defense.
How we process the world around us preprograms our responses to spontaneous, violent attacks. In life, there are 2 categories of thinkers — convergent and divergent. Convergent thinkers are those who believe that every problem has a predetermined number of potential solutions. It is an inward method of thinking and problem solving. A divergent mindset, on the other hand, is an outward method of resolving an issue. It is an approach to a problem that investigates the surrounding world, identifying limitless possibilities and solutions. It employs the creative side of our minds, because we can draw conclusions and make connections that may not be obvious to others.
If we conclude that the only response to a life-or-death situation is with a gun, then we impose limits and jeopardize chances for survival. Without identifying a “Plan B” we will resort to inaction if our “Plan A” fails. We need to focus on the goal, which is to stop the attack any way we can, not focusing on the tool. Developing a divergent response is easily accomplished.
Developing a divergent mindset
Developing divergent thinking in preparation for a violent encounter requires us to first develop situational awareness. As a retired police officer, I constantly practiced this mental exercise. We were taught in the academy to identify potential weapons in the environment that could be used to harm us. Many years after my academy training, I realized that this identification isn’t just useful for preventing a suspect from accessing and using weapons against me, it also is useful in identifying weapons I could use against the suspect if, God forbid, I faced a malfunction or am unable to access my intended tools.
Divergent thinking in critical situations
To develop my divergent thinking I made a habit of taking mental notes upon arriving on-scene at every call. I noted my surroundings and all accessible objects. When we begin to look at our surroundings with this lens, we begin to realize how blind we’ve been. At first, we easily identify potentially harmful objects like a rock, shovel or a bottle. But, true awareness is measured by identifying every object within an environment, and then identifying the tactical advantage those objects provide.
Consider the photo taken at a convenience store. If you are making a delivery and are confronted by a suspect, what are your potential environmental tools? The use-of-force options change, depending on your location and the location of the suspect. What I see when I study this picture is an endless supply of distraction and self-defense objects.
Below is my list, which is not all-inclusive.
My list doesn’t begin to address what exists inside the store that is accessible, nor items I have on my person. We possess everyday objects that were never intended for use as self-defense tools, but certainly can be. Consider the Stiletto Killer trial going on now — this is a perfect example. The goal with developing a divergent mindset in regard to self-defense is to identify and use the objects immediately available within the environment to quickly gain a tactical advantage.