FDR once said, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. In a survival situation this means is that your emotions can be your most dangerous adversary. And if you’re unprepared to deal with them they can rob you of your will to survive and your ability to make it through hard times. This article is all about how you and your family can get the mental toughness you need to stay alive in the aftermath of a 2012 disaster.
To cope in a massive disaster or indeed any traumatic survival situation you need to prepare yourself to experience fear, anxiety, anger, frustration, depression, hopelessness, guilt and grief. It’s very important to understand that having these feelings does not mean you are weak or a coward. You must reassure yourself that these feelings are completely natural and you will probably come up against most or all them in your quest for survival post 2012. What you must do is prepare to experience them so that you know what to expect and so they don’t stand in the way of your ultimate goal – keeping your family alive.
Expect to feel fear.
Fear is a normal and necessary instinct for survival. Remember the Dodo bird? Animals that don’t have fear end up extinct. On the other hand, if you let fear overcome you, you can freeze or panic. And that will be the end of you too. However you can minimize the amount of fear you feel – and the way to do that is by training. You will gain confidence by training in the areas where you feel you have weaknesses – for example if you’re worried that you can’t perform emergency field maintenance on your Bug-Out vehicle, start learning how immediately. And soon that fear will be behind you.
So learn how everything in your survival kits works and get experience using it. The more in command of your resources you are the better off you’ll be when the time comes.
Learn to control Anxiety.
Anxiety is a close relation of fear. Viewed negatively anxiety can gradually overwhelm us to the point where we are frozen, unable to act and deeply depressed. However it is possible to use anxiety to our advantage – public speaking coaches call anxiety ‘the sweat of success’ because anxiety provides motivation to perform. Learning to control your breathing, positive visualisation techniques and hypnosis are extremely effective ways to master anxiety.
Control your Anger and Frustration.
It’s a sad fact of life, things don’t always go the way you want them to. Sometimes it’s something you can control, other times it isn’t. In a critical survival situation mistakes can see a lot worse and more important that they really are.
You need to learn to control your reaction to anger and frustration, because uncontrolled they can lead to impulsiveness, wasting time on tasks that don’t matter, poor decision making and irrational behaviour, which are all potential killers of you and your family.
Learn to recognise when you and other family members are falling prey to anger or frustration and take immediate measures to calm the situation down.
Intercept depression and hopelessness.
Prolonged anxiety, anger and frustration can all result in depression. When a person is depressed they start to give up hope and lose energy. In the worst case scenario, severe depression leads to losing the will to survive. Dealing with anxiety, anger and frustration before they get too advanced is the best way to beat depression. Once it takes hold it can be very difficult to treat – especially in circumstances where constant high stress continually adds to the problem.
In situations where people close to them have lost their lives the survivors commonly feel guilty for being spared. In a massive disaster scenario this will almost certainly happen to you.
These feelings of guilt can take you two ways. You let your grief overwhelm you until you lose your own will to live, which accomplishes nothing at all. Or you can see the higher purpose in life and resolve to work harder to survive in the name of those who were less fortunate, and make them proud of you.
Guilt is normal and is to be expected. Understand that the situation is of not of your own making, and never lose sight of the fact that your job is to survive and keep your family alive too.
Now here are four general tips to help you get the survival attitude and keep it strong when it counts.
Stay positive – Survival is a state of mind.
Look for the advantage in everything. Staying positive keeps your energy levels up and will help keep the morale of your family up too. If they see you weighed down with negativity, they will be down too. Remember your mind can give up long before your body has to.
Never forget the end goal .
Don’t lose sight of where you are going and why. Having a clear objective will help keep you motivated and positive. It will also help your family in the same way. Tell them where you’re going, how you plan to get there, and what they need to do to help, Remind them that every step takes them closer to safety.
Learn to manage stress
Survival situations are extremely stressful and if you don’t know how to manage stress you can panic, lose focus and make fatal decisions. Having the following skills will make you a much more effective family leader in 2012. Relaxation – especially learning to control your breathing. Time Management – learn to prioritise and allocate your time where it will be the most productive. Cognitive restructuring – acquiring the ability to change how you view a situation, allowing you to see the positive side and where the advantages lie.
Practice, practice, practice. Just like you don’t want to be reading the instructions on your portable gas lantern for the first time when the sky is raining molten lava, you don’t want to leave getting your head right for survival until it’s too late.