Developing a Survival Mindset

You might believe that your water or food supply is the most important part of your emergency preparedness kit. Others may think it is their tools and gadgets. Still, another person might believe that a first-aid kit and portable shelter are more important than other supplies. All of these are very useful during a disaster or emergency. However, your most important piece of survival gear is likely not physical gear at all... it's likely your survival mindset.


What is a survival mindset?

A survival mindset is mental stability under pressure, handling situations with intelligence and strength, and making good tactical decisions. When you are adequately trained, you can adapt to almost any circumstance.


You may have everything that you need in an emergency, but if you do not have the survival mindset of “I can”, all the other items in your arsenal may not help at all. You can approach difficult circumstances in a more productively way by adjusting your attitude when difficulties arise.


A negative mindset will hold you back from effectively addressing an emergency or disaster scenario. It does not mean that you dismiss the gravity of the situation. Having an “I can” mindset is so powerful and can help you engage in trouble-shooting, solution-finding, and possibility-making. Leave fatalism and despair at the door.


Having a survival mindset can make the literal difference between life and death. Thinking “I can’t” is the Achilles heel of survival.


How can you develop a positive emergency preparedness mindset?

During the current Covid-19 pandemic, people are suffering from intense anxiety and fear. If you allow yourself to become overwhelmed by fear, your metabolic processes and motor skills will be negatively affected. If you are prepared, confident, and mindful, you will be ready for the most significant challenges.

Essential tips for having the mindset needed to overcome a crisis or disaster

  • Be a positive role model - inspire courage in others and include family members in preparing for an emergency to develop their confidence

  • Think positively - believe with complete faith that you and your family will get through it.

  • Remain calm and confident

  • Be prepared - be aware of each tool in your emergency kit and know how to use them.

  • Practice essential skills so you will be able to keep your family safe.

  • Focus - Limit watching the news. It usually engenders fear. Focus on the matter at hand.

  • Acknowledge and address fear - Recognize the emotion and give it some space. Do not give fear any power over you. Stay aware of your surroundings and learn to recognize warning signs of danger.


STOP (Acronym for Stop, Think, Observe, Plan)


Stop - This acronym is a reminder to stop and take deep breaths. Sit down if possible. Give yourself a bit of time to collect yourself. Increase your mindfulness so you can tap into your total mental and physical potential.


Think - Do not panic. Focus on the situation you are in, assess risks, goals, and opportunities

.

Observe - What conditions are present that might make the situation more dangerous? What are your options? What resources do you have? Consider your capabilities and those of others. Know your limits.


Plan - prioritize your immediate needs and develop a plan to tackle the most pressing issues while conserving energy. Rehearse your plan.



Survival Mindset vs. Victim Mentality

Not all factors are in our control when it comes to a crisis. One thing we are in control of is our mindset. If we are adequately trained, our brain can adapt to almost any circumstance.


Some individuals crack under pressure while others can remain calm. A survival mindset wires rational thought, while our emotions are flooded with fear, stress, anger, and frustration. This survival mindset feeds an unbreakable faith that triggers the brain to take charge.


The polar opposite of a survival mindset is victim mentality (Why is this happening to me?). It is usually the initial reaction to a traumatic event. If the victim mentality is allowed to continue, it leads away from survival. Then the person becomes paralyzed by fear and cannot react in a way that helps them toward safety.


Having a survival mindset is developed over time. Here are six ways to become mentally prepared for the stress and emotions encountered during a crisis.

  1. Practice situational awareness - know your surroundings

  2. Take responsibility - you are in charge

  3. Believe in yourself - channel an unbreakable faith

  4. Be adaptable - look for alternative solutions

  5. Be resilient - refuse to give up

When our lives are threatened, we are capable of extraordinary strength and physical feats. Some people refuse to give up through the panic, chaos, and fear of specific situations. People with a survivor mindset make use of the fear - they are not ruled by it. They can use fear to focus on survival.


Flex those brain muscles often to empower yourself to be prepared for any situation. Your mind can be your biggest asset or your most significant liability. You can decide!


A positive attitude has a very a powerful influence on the mentality and motivation necessary for setting a goal to live. Set goals give motivation and the attitude necessary to survive pressures. Picture your goal in your mind and visualize yourself reaching it. A person with a strong willpower can conquer many obstacles.


Loneliness, fatigue, pain, cold/heat, hunger, thirst, and fear are your enemies in emergencies.


Loneliness - Don’t let loneliness gnaw at your positive attitude. Fight it by singing, whistling, daydreaming, gathering food, or doing something that will take your mind off the fact that you are alone. Keep busy to keep your mind occupied.


Avoid fatigue - Fatigue is the overuse of the muscles and the mind and is a severe threat. Take time to refresh and rest your brain and body. Conserve your energy with rest, sleep, and calmness. Pain signals that something is wrong. Don’t let it get the best of you, as it can weaken your desire to go on.


Cold and Heat - Exposure to the elements can be dangerous. Get shelter if you can and build a fire. If it is too hot, sleep during the day and stay awake at night.


Hunger and thirst - Try to find water. Food is secondary. You can survive for weeks without food but must have water. Continually be on the outlook for food. A lack of nutrition can make you depressed. Remember your positive frame of mind and keep your goal to live foremost in your mind.


Fear - Be realistic. Your imagination can make mountains out of molehills. Recognize fear, and don’t be ashamed of it. Control the fear, and don’t let it control you. By learning basic first aid skills, it can help prevent or ease fears by increasing your confidence. Try hard to keep a positive mental attitude.


Panic is more dangerous than fear. Panic is an uncontrolled urge to run or hurry from the situation. A person’s rational thinking disappears with panic. Panic can also lead to exhaustion, injury, or death.


Having a positive mental attitude is the best remedy in an emergency or disaster!


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