The Psychology of Survival

| October 4, 2013 |

Psychology Of Survival




It’s not the strong who survive; it’s the calm well prepared person or group.  To survive and thrive in a crisis you must be prepared and confident in your preparations, skills and supplies. 

How would your outlook on life change if today you became debt free?  Of course you would feel much more satisfied, more confident about the future and more in control of your life.  Just as being debt free allows you to have more confidence and independence, BEING PREPARED for disaster situations, either short or long term, that require you to live in a independent manner, will help you avoid unnecessary stress, anxiety and fear of the unknown.

Many people will be unprepared for a crisis out of laziness, or from a life perspective that others are obligated to provide for them.  When they finally understand the full magnitude of the effect of the crisis, they may become angry, violent, catatonic, or just sit in a corner and cry until they are dead from exposure, starvation or the violent acts of others.

Understanding the Psychology of Survival

Your preparations for the big crunch should include an unemotional assessment of how you and others will react to having the umbilical cord to your normal source of food, water, power and transportation cut.  Anyone who has experienced a power outage knows the feeling of surprise followed by irritation which can change to anxiety and perhaps even fear as the length of time increases.

Combine this with weather related or other events that can cut you off from access to stores and services and you have a taste of what you would face during a long term crisis.

Psychological Effects

The effects of facing situations with unknown outcomes and loss of personal control are negative emotions that can cause self-defeating reactions.  Anxiety, fear, depression all create both psychological and physical changes in your body that cause confusion and make it much more difficult to cope and make sound decisions.

Being prepared removes the unknowns, provides many more options and brings a sense of personal control which allows you to make intelligent decisions based on knowledge and reality not emotions.

Fear of the Unknown

Why are we afraid of the dark?  Prior to the establishment of higher levels of civilization, our long-ago ancestors faced things in the dark that could eat them.  Not being able to see danger coming in the dark was a real hazard.  Being fearless in the dark night was not a favorable survival trait.  If you were eaten you did not reproduce.

If you sought safe shelter at night, especially in groups, you survived long enough to pass these traits to your descendants.  While most people sleep in the dark, it is generally in a place where they feel safe.

Simply put, we are afraid of the dark in unfamiliar areas because it creates unknowns. Being afraid of the dark is a survival instinct to protect you from hazardous situations … fewer hazards means better chance of survival.

People who go camping regularly have a greatly diminished fear of the dark because they have faced the dark in unfamiliar surroundings and have not been eaten.  They know what to expect.  This shows us that we can overcome fearful situations.

Human Reactions to Survival Situations

Human “fight or flight” response to hazardous situations is another genetic survival trait.  In a crisis the mind and body immediately prepare for extreme short term physical action.

This reaction pumps hormones into your body that cannot be sustained for the long term.  Stress is the result of mentally tamping down this normal impulse of wanting to resolve the hazard by flight or fight to increase the odds of survival.

When facing even a short term crisis, neither flight nor fight may be an option.  Only preparation will give you the ability to eliminate the hazards caused by no food, no water, no shelter and no security.

Survival Group Dynamics

Negative reactions by even one person in a group can stress the entire group. Unless you have a well established hierarchy (chain of command) and well established delegation of tasks and authority, you can expect chaos in your group.  Group dynamics is the study of the interactions of people in a group. 

Establishing a group for the purpose of survival is much more than everyone agreeing to lay in supplies and help one another.  The group needs leaders and subject matter experts well before the need arises.

Additionally, group preparation means having an agreed upon set of rules, code of conduct and resolution procedures to deal with internal group conflicts.  People need rules and established norms to function.

Take a look at all the rules you follow in your normal daily life… you may be surprised at the number.  Consider the delegation of authority, responsibility and division of labor that surrounds you.

Your survival preparations need to include understanding and discussing group dynamics and individual responsibilities well ahead of time.

Basic rules for your group should include a high degree of respect for others, listening, patience and acceptance of responsibility and authority.

Being able to confidently say; “We can. We will. We know how to survive independently” is the key to getting through a crisis.

For a good example of survival group dynamics, rent the movies “Lord of the Flies” and “Flight of the Phoenix”.  Watching and discussing them with your family and group will help everyone get on the same page.

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Category: Mental Preperation

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