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How to remain calm and cool under stressfull situations

Discussion in 'Cop Talk' started by jhon, Dec 12, 2011.

  1. jhon


    Dec 1, 2010
    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.

    Last edited: Dec 12, 2011


    Dec 31, 2000
    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.



    Dec 31, 2000

    Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance.
  4. Central Texan

    Central Texan AmericanSoldier

    Dec 27, 2002
    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 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.
  5. Nine Shooter

    Nine Shooter Average Guy

    Apr 25, 2008
    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.
  6. RetailNinja


    Jan 31, 2007
    never been shot at, just fights and foot chases.

  7. Cochese

    Cochese Most mackinest CLM

    Jun 30, 2004
    Unmarked Rustbox
    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.
  8. deadcalm4u

    deadcalm4u overkill

    Nov 16, 2003
    state of denial
    Well said Cochese.
  9. BamaTrooper

    BamaTrooper Almost Done

    Sep 12, 2006
    Rocking Chair
    Plan ahead, realize things can go wrong.
  10. 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...

    "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.
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2011
  11. 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.
  12. texmex


    Nov 29, 2004
    Central Texas
    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.
  13. Gallium

    Gallium CLM

    Mar 26, 2003
    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.

  14. packsaddle


    Jan 15, 2009
    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.
  15. DaBigBR

    DaBigBR No Infidels!

    Oct 28, 2005
    Circling the wagons.
    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.
  16. JohnnyReb

    JohnnyReb Lifetime Member

    Sep 20, 2004
    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.
  17. cowboywannabe

    cowboywannabe you savvy?

    Jan 26, 2001
    play the "what if" game and have an answer for your "what ifs".
  18. Top_Shot_31


    Apr 8, 2011
    Idawahio, USA.
    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.
  19. 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
  20. razdog76

    razdog76 Heavy Mettle

    Sep 26, 2007
    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.
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2011