It Was A Nightmare!…Thoughts On The Subconscious and “What If’s?”
Subconsciously Defending Yourself…
It was only a dream, but it was a nightmare. A few days ago I awakened with heart pounding, fight or flight reflex in a full blown ready-to-go mode. It was then I realized I was having another one of my wife’s least favorite middle of the night, wake myself up experiences. There have been times when I have been awakened by my wife yelling, “You’re dreaming! Wake up!” The bed is torn apart, blankets and sheets in disarray and my wife shaking my shoulder and at times ducking as I react to the dream. In this case it was after I felt myself being shot after a failure to stop during the nightmare.
Before giving further details, a discussion with others who train in self defense revealed that many of us find our subconscious working over training, discussions, events we’ve studied or even a movie or TV show that caused us to consider how we would act in certain circumstances, and this works itself out in dreams. Role-playing, playing the “what if” game is part of what a serious student of defense does to prepare for what may happen. Years ago, my step-mother told me my father did the same thing as what happened to me. At the time he was working in law enforcement in Southern Arizona. PCP had made its appearance and officers were dealing with people who felt no pain, would not stop, could fight off several officers with superhuman strength, and be shot repeatedly with no visible effect. After several incidents in Arizona, training began on what is now called the “failure to stop drill.” Two shots are fired at the upper chest and if they did not cause the needed stop, the head shot follows. My step mom said Dad had been trashing about in bed, shouting and then yelled over and over, “two to the belly, one to the head!” His subconscious was working through the training and he had been practicing at work and what he had learned, while in his sleep.
In my dream practicing, I had confronted a person, who I had witnessed, killing a child. I tried to stop him and fired repeatedly at his chest with a rim-fire single action revolver. I remember thinking to my self, “this is an inadequate caliber. Why am I using this weird looking single action revolver and this is a definite failure to stop and it’s not working!” I had to reload and experienced trouble doing so. I heard the shots as the criminal fired at me. It was a strange Ker-Chunk sound as I saw the muzzle flash with the bullets striking my body, though I could not feel the hits. My mind kept running it over and over until I knew what I was doing wasn’t working, and I woke myself up, heart pounding, ready to fight. At least this time I was not throwing punches, which could be dangerous for anyone close!
What did I learn? The sub-conscious works through things you may be consciously thinking about, training or discussing. Several times I find my mind running things I’m memorizing or rehearsing, but in the dream state during sleep. This could be that sub-conscious effort to become “unconsciously competent” that is taught at several self- defense schools. This is defined as you no longer have to think through a movement or action step by step, but do what is needed, without consciously thinking about it.
For example; I was teaching a firearms course for a company that does armored car money deliveries. During a demonstration of a timed exercise, my gun had a failure to fire due to a bad cartridge. I tapped the magazine, racked the slide to get rid of the bad round and continued to the end of the exercise. It was done without stopping or thinking about what was needed. When it was recognized what had happened, training kicked in, the sub-conscious took over and fixed the problem. When it was over, one of the students said, “What did you just do?” I had to ask what he was talking about, as I was not consciously aware of what had happened. He described hearing the click of the firing pin striking the primer and I did something so fast, he did not know what was done and wanted to know what I had done so quickly. It turned into a great teaching moment as we had covered stoppage clearances and he did not realize which one had occurred.
We can learn from our dreams and learn in our dreams. A nightmare like my experience may show something you have been considering or something you discovered and pondered. My dream/nightmare reminded me of why I carry an adequate caliber that is in a functionally reliable firearm with easy reloading capability. I also practice regularly in live fire, dry fire and mental “what if “rehearsal. This is something you may wish to consider to harden yourself against the possibility of having to engage evil. Take it seriously so that YOU are the one who prevails. I hope you have “sweet” dreams as you further your defense training as well.