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Pressure Increases … Awareness Decreases

“When the pressure we are under increases, it is natural for our awareness to decrease.

This change might be almost imperceptible at first, but as the pressure increases, our peripheral vision narrows and so too does our hearing, and, as a result, so does what we are thinking. When the pressure really racks up we are virtually shutting down and our awareness has narrowed to a tiny window.

Now, this is a great help to us when we are in imminent danger, with our body diverting all its resources to dealing with this one problem – run for your life, get out the way of that oncoming vehicle – but it inhibits us when performing in the instances when we are perceiving a threat.

There are three key elements required to achieve this: awareness of the environment; decision-making skills, often in an unpredictable and hostile situation and accompanied by a dislocation of expectation; and the functional skills of flying and navigating the plane.

So how does the trainee improve awareness and effectiveness under pressure? Firstly, it’s a question of familiarity with pressure, which is why so much time is spent in the simulators dislocating expectations. The only way to get used to the pressure of dislocated expectations is to continually be in an unpredictable environment.”

From “The Pressure Principle” by Dave Alred