What Does It Take To Be A Survivor?

 

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Today’s post opens a discussion into the naysayers that Preppers are often confronted with.  The following are some of the issues I’ve personally dealt with, and I would be surprised if you haven’t  faced something similar:

  • As a Prepper, do you feel you’re swimming against the tide of family members, friends, co-workers and your community with regards to the conviction to get prepared?
  • Have you found yourself frustrated that otherwise well-meaning, intelligent people you come in contact with don’t see the necessity or the wisdom of becoming more self-sufficient, self-reliant, or at least creating a living situation that is somewhat sustainable?
  • Have you ever wondered why news of drought, changing weather patterns, saber-rattling and dire economic warnings hasn’t spurred more people to get prepared?
  • Have you experienced the eye-roll, or general negative remarks over your commitment to prepping from significant others?  (“You aren’t one of those crazy Doomsday Preppers, are you?”)
  • Have you ever heard, “It’s as if you want something bad to happen.”
  • Have you heard from these self-same eye-rollers the infamous words, “I’m coming to your place if things ever get bad!”

If any of these apply to your experience, then you’re a Prepper!  You didn’t drink the kool-aid of the illusion that the economy is healthy and that the world situation is stable (or if you did, it may have only been sip or two that brought temporary amnesia).

You can think for yourself, and have determined that getting prepared is worth doing, even if it means doing without some things that you might have otherwise.  Maybe you’ve resolved to give up random shopping trips and purchases in exchange for planned purchase, or have given up 5-star vacations in exchange for 2-4 star vacations, or put a halt to trading in your car or truck for a new one every few years–the point is, you have prioritized prepping over unnecessary luxuries.

We may never be able to understand how some can can read about the current droughts and understand that it means higher food prices while others don’t realize how much it will soon impact their daily lives.  Where we may be making a list of what remains to be filled on food storage shelves before food prices skyrocket, friends and family members may be moaning over not being able to purchase that 80-inch flat screen TV.  It sets us apart from the crowd while we’re researching how to convert a generator to bi or tri-fuel while those close to us  are gushing over replacing their carpeting with hand-scrapped hard wood floors or planning a trip to white, sandy beaches and drinks with festive umbrellas adorning them.

(Ox’s note:  That being said, if you are going to go to a white sandy beach and drink drinks with festive umbrellas in them, Carpe Diem, enjoy yourself, unplug, rest, recharge, and get back to business when you get home.  Just because you’re getting prepared doesn’t mean that you can run at a fast pace forever…take time to rest and recuperate so that you stay healthy.)

But that isn’t where the differences end.

How can people not realize that the U.S. economy is in peril?  Already, there have been demonstrations and riots in Europe in reaction to high unemployment, higher taxes and cuts to entitlements and retirement benefits.   What makes American’s feel that as a nation we will remain unscathed?  Somehow, decades of entitlements have shifted people’s interest in self-reliance into an improbable belief that should the economy tank, or an unforeseen disaster strike, meals on wheels will be at their doorstep to deliver food and drinkable water.  What they fail to consider is that to supply only two meals a day to each man, woman and child in the U.S. would require handing out 622 million meals a day!  Where would those meals and potable water come from, not to mention the manpower it would require to deliver them?

It can be extremely difficult to understand how we can all watch what transpires during disasters, the looting, empty grocers shelves, power outages and sometimes grid-locked roadways, and yet only a small portion of the populace heed these warnings and turn it into something pro-active–like putting aside food, water and preparedness goods.

Personally, I’ve pondered this issue for most of my life, and the closest I’ve come to an answer may be found in the works of Dr. John Leach and other pioneers whose research concludes that the majority of the population are followers, and as such can only be pointed in the right direction through sound leadership.

What Does it Really Take To Be A Survivor?  

Possibly, the first step to understand a survivor’s mind-set would be to read the real life stories of those who survived impossible odds and lived to tell about it.  Studies on what sets survivors apart from victims point to a common thread: a positive, can-do  mental attitude carried survivors to the other side of extreme adversity.

Dr. John Leach, who wrote the book Survival Physiology,  coined what is known as the 10-80-10 Theory that divides peoples survival mindset into three camps. His studies revealed that 10 to 15 percent of people faced with a life-threatening emergency are able to maintain a calm, rational state of mind. This group tends to be leaders and often during a full-blown crisis, are credited with helping  others to survive.

(Note: This is made easier with practice.  In other words, do you regularly practice skills such as marksmanship, hand-to-hand combat, and medical responses…whether by actually doing them or through mental rehearsal?  Have you taken a CPR course recently and studied any emergency medical books you have on hand?)

The second group, which makes up approximately 70 to 80 percent of people, react to a crisis in a ‘stunned and bewildered’ manner, where reasoning is significantly impaired to the point that their ability to make decisions becomes difficult.  Often, this lack of action is attributed to either depressed or elevated chemical levels in the brain that make critical thinking difficult.

The final 10 percent of people are those who panic, and many times their knee-jerk reaction makes an already life-threatening situation even more dangerous.

The following is an excerpt of Dr. Leach’s warnings published in Newsweek, January 23, 2009 article, What It Takes to Survive a Crisis, written by Ben Sherwood;

“The blunt reality of survival is this: too many people perish when they shouldn’t. They morph into marble instead of taking decisive action. Exploring this phenomenon is the main focus of Dr. John Leach, one of the world’s leading experts on survival psychology. He has lived for more than 20 years in England’s Lake District, where he teaches an advanced course in survival psychology at Lancaster University.

In November 1987, Leach was changing trains one night in London at the King’s Cross Underground station, a sprawling hub that throbs with more than 30,000 passengers during rush hour. He noticed the “thickest, greasiest, most cloying smoke I’ve ever seen.” At first, it didn’t make sense. There were no flames—just acrid smoke like the kind that belches from a ship’s funnel. Almost without thinking, he found his way up to ground level and hurried to the exit.

Today, more than 21 years later, most of the memories have faded, but Leach can still smell the foul smoke and hear the wail of a uniformed railway worker: “There are people dying down there.” For some inexplicable reason, as the fire spread, trains kept on arriving in the station. Meanwhile, above ground, officials unwittingly directed passengers onto escalators that carried them straight into the flames. Many commuters followed their routines despite the smoke and fire. They marched right into the disaster, almost oblivious to the crush of people trying to escape—some actually in flames. Thirty-one people perished in the King’s Cross fire, and incredibly, the Underground staff never sprayed a single fire extinguisher or spilled a drop of water on the fire”

~ ~ ~

My guess is that you fall into the 10 to 15 percent of people who, when faced with a life-threatening emergency, will remain calm, maintain a rational state of mind, and will help lead others to the other side of safety as much as is humanly possible.  It’s what we do.  Many posts on this board has upheld the belief I hold that Preppers are not only free-thinkers, able and willing to go against the tide of convention, but we are also helpers.  What else can explain giving up a spoiled existence in exchange  for providing ongoing security for our loved ones?

(Ox’s note:  I love y’all, but don’t share Barbara’s guess that everyone reading this will remain calm.  A rational desire to be prepared for disasters doesn’t necessarily translate into an ability to remain calm any more than a desire to become a soldier translates into being able to remain calm under fire.

The only way to know is to experience extremely stressful situations, see how you respond, and adjust accordingly.

This gets a little complicated because the stressful situations that you experience will occur somewhere in the spectrum between events that you are completely prepared for and events that you are not prepared for.

As an example, an EMT is technically prepared for a patient who’s having a seizure, who is bleeding and going into shock, or who is drowning and has stopped breathing.

Someone with no medical training, on the other hand, may not have a clue what to do.

You will be more likely to stay calm in a situation where you already know what to do, but it’s not a guarantee.  It’s also not a guarantee that someone who has no clue what to do won’t stay calm enough to cause a successful outcome.

The good news is that there are 2 tools that you can use to improve your performance under extreme stress.

First, practice (physically and with mental rehearsal) the skills that you think you have a high likelyhood of needing when you’re under extreme stress to a point where you can do them in your sleep.  When you do the same skill over and over again in the same way, you create mylein sheaths around the neural pathways that help insulate it from the effects of adrenaline dumps and extremely high heart rates.

Second, to the extent that you can and want to do so, expose yourself to stressful situations and practice calming yourself down.  This could be through a short series of deep breaths, praying quickly, blocking out what’s going on and focusing exclusively on what you can control, going to your “happy place” for a few seconds, doing progressive relaxation, or even focusing on counting to 10.  The situation may dictate which of these are possible and applicable.  Don’t stop and count to 10 if a truck is crossing the centerline and coming straight at you.

These 2 tools, or classes of tools, can help everyone perform better under stress and move you closer to the level of a seasoned professional who has ice running through their veins and who is able to make solid, non-emotional decisions under stress.

Want to know something neat?  If you have the opportunity to master your response to stress in one part of your life, you can use that same control in other parts of your life.  As an example, someone who works in customer support in a call center, in law enforcement, in EMS, in the military and other professions either doesn’t last long or figures out how to remove their emotions from the situation and get their job done.  That skill of removing emotions from stressful situations can also be used with arguments with children, arguments with spouses, and with other stresses in life and it can help de-escalate situations on a regular basis.)

This is definitely a case where skills beat gears and where the changes that you make inside your own head will give you the most leverage and have the ability to affect every area of your life in a positive way.

Have you received the eye roll over your conviction to prepare, or heard those bone-chilling words, “I’m coming to your place if things ever get bad!”  And if you have heard those dreaded words, will your door be open to them?  On a personal note, I would love to hear readers feedback on how in the world so many see the same warnings as preppers do, yet still choose not to prepare.

Have you taken any deliberate actions to help improve your ability to respond to stress?  Have you applied them in other areas of your life?  If so, please share them by commenting below.

And, if you haven’t checked out Former Force Recon Marine, Chris Graham’s at-home 30-10 pistol training, please do so now by clicking >HERE<  If you missed Chris nailing a 200 yard shot with a Glock 17 on his first shot, check out the article and video by going >HERE<!

God bless and stay safe,

David Morris and Survival Diva

 

 

 

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