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Exercising Emotional Control

Prevailing in a violent confrontation is not just about physical defense; you also have to keep your head.

March 01, 2006  |  by Wes Doss

Generally, the individual who allows himself to be consumed with negative thoughts and emotions will have a marked decline in performance over an individual who maintains positive control over those emotions. The difference between negative and positive thoughts and emotions is heavily influenced by our individual self-concept or how we feel or believe in ourselves, which is, in turn, created by our individual record of past experience and performance, as well as our self image and the attitudes of significant people in our lives such as supervisors, spouses, peers, and trainers.

Under the stress of physical conflict, the other stresses in our lives can manifest as negative competing thoughts, interfering with our subconscious, causing us to either overreact or under react to the situation at hand. Controlling these emotions is done by controlling the thoughts that cause them.

Maintaining Control

In most conflicts, regardless of whether they are fistfights or running gun battles, it is not the individual who has perfect textbook performance who wins. The winner is usually the combatant who makes the fewest mistakes and can recover quickly from the mistakes he does make.

Mistakes will be made and the unexpected will happen in a physical confrontation. So it is critical that you arm yourself not just with fighting skills but also with methods and techniques for letting go of distractions, refocusing your concentration, and maintaining control of your emotions. If you have the proper defensive tactics training and emotional control, you can meet the challenges of any physical confrontation.

The Benefits of Confidence

Consider the following scenario involving a highly trained and highly confident police officer. The officer is involved in an intense physical clash with a violent suspect and, at some point during the battle, the officer senses that he is losing his advantage.

The perceived loss of this advantage sends a message to his brain, which tells his body that something is wrong. The message is further perceived as a threat and causes near immediate changes in the officer's body.

His muscles tighten, his breathing becomes shallow and rapid, and his heart rate accelerates. The officer's concentration narrows and his body and mind automatically start trying to regain control of what has been lost in the fight.

But the confident officer is aware of what is happening. Instead of panicking, he regains control and he refuses to fail. His confidence, built on solid training and experience, allows him to let go of any negative thoughts or concerns, almost immediately relaxing and regaining his edge over his opponent.

For the confident officer, the perception of a problem and the corrections that have to be made require little or no conscious thought. As a result, the officer is able to maintain his composure, responding quickly and appropriately.

In contrast, when an officer lacks confidence or his confidence is destroyed because of poor training or poor results from techniques he thought would work, the recovery process is slow or non-existent, having a radically destructive effect on performance. The longer muscles remain tense, the longer it takes the officer to recover in the fight, with considerably less sensitivity to and awareness of his surroundings.

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