One of the creepiest and most frightening experiences you can ever have is when you realize that a mysterious stranger is following you.
Suddenly, you’ll become much more alert about traffic around you, the sound of snapping twigs, a dog barking in the distance, or any other sounds that are happening behind you.
Maybe you’re walking down the street and you notice that a guy in a hoodie has followed you for the last two blocks, but you think nothing of it because maybe you’re both headed in the same direction.
You stop at a coffee shop to grab a coffee. You take a seat, check emails and social media on your phone, and when you look up you see the same guy is also sitting in the coffee shop.
“That’s strange,” you think. But it could all be a simple coincidence, so you go back to your phone and your coffee.
Then, when you step back outside and continue walking down the street, you look behind your shoulder and notice that the same guy is walking behind you again.
Now you realize that this could no longer be a coincidence. Maybe this person is following you.
What do you do?
You may be surprised to hear that it’s actually easy to follow someone without them knowing it because most people do not pay much attention to their environment.
This is why the very first step in figuring out if someone is following you is simply to become more aware of your surroundings.
Practicing situational awareness while you are out in public is critical. You need to establish baselines, or what’s normal, and then take note of any anomalies.
There are three stages of situational awareness that are represented by colors. These colors are:
- Green: Fully Relaxed
- Yellow: Relaxed But Aware
- Red: Fully Alert
When you are out in public, you will want to be in Condition Yellow. You want to be relaxed and content, but you also want to be aware of what’s going on around you.
This means that when you enter a new building, you should immediately take note of all of the possible exit routes. It means that you should be aware of what people are talking about around you and that you should take a quick mental note of whenever someone new walks in.
At the same time, you still don’t want or need to be fully alert, so you’re still relaxed and content with what’s going on around you.
Essentially, Condition Yellow means that you’re just doing your normal business but you’re not daydreaming or zoning out, so you can still take note of anomalies in your environment.
One example of an anomaly would be if someone is making an unusual amount of eye contact with you.
Another example of an anomaly would be if a car passes by in front of your house repeatedly.
Yet another example would be someone who walks into a coffee shop but doesn’t fit in with the normal crowd.
Our example from the introduction, where a person is walking behind you constantly on the street, is also an anomaly.
Each of these is an anomaly that should put you on an alert level that someone may be following you.
But, how do you truly know if you are being followed?
Jason Hanson, an ex-CIA officer, claims that there is a golden rule the intelligence community follows to determine if they are being followed.
This golden rule is:
- One Time: Accident
- Two Times: Coincidence
- Three Times: Enemy Action
In addition to taking note of anomalies, you also need to trust your instincts and gut feelings. Your instincts will tell you if something is wrong by giving you uncomfortable feelings.