There are a lot of articles about survival but not that many about survival psychology why? It seems to me that you can have all the survival gear in the world but if you don’t have the mindset you won’t have a chance.
Have you ever been lost in the forest? If you have what was your first reaction? If it was like allot of people your initial reaction was fear and that you were scared and you felt alone. Maybe it was late in the day and you knew that you needed to get back to your vehicle or the place you were camping. Maybe for some reason you didn’t take enough water with you.
If you have not been in that situation you might not be able to relate but if you have then you know what it feels like. In this article I want to show you how to combat survival stress and develop the survival mindset necessary for winning in a bad situation.
Notice I said combat survival stress and not eliminate it. A more apt description would be to control the stressful situation.
Stress is important in a survival situation because it is that stress which pushes us to take action. If there was no stress you would have no reason to work and make your situation better. Some signs of dangerous stress are:
Having a hard time making decisions:
This can come from fear. When you become so scared about your situation and you can’t separate all the thoughts in your head. This is when you need to breath and take in your situation,
This will happen when we are not in control of our surroundings. However the danger of this is that it takes a lot more energy to sustain you with the extra adrenalin pumping through your body. And it interrupts the decision making process.
By not keeping your thoughts clear you will begin to forget things that you normally would not.
These next items are direct results of the above three:
Making mistakes that could be avoided
The feeling that you are going to fail
One of my favorite movies in the world is The Out Law Josey Whales and one of the things that he said in the seen in the cabin when the soldiers were about to attack stuck with me, I am paraphrasing mind you “when things look bad and it looks like your not going to make it you have to get mean I mean mad dog mean otherwise you neither live nor win and that’s just the way it is”.
There are many different types of survival situations you don’t have to be lost in the woods to find yourself in a survival situation. You could be in the city and be lost or in another country. One time I was in California it was the first time I had been in another state by myself, I went for a drive to find a mall in San Jose and before I knew it I was turned around and wound up heading for Oakland. You may laugh at this story but you have to remember that since I was raised in the woods I had no experience with cities. So being in the forest was natural for me but being in the city was not. How did I handle being lost? I was scared to death.
I found out that in the city people are scared to talk to you, they don’t like to give you directions and if you are not at least familiar with certain types of people it can be easy to get hurt. I avoided the situation but it reminds me of the saying “walk softly but carry a big stick.”
How you react to your survival situation in the beginning can be a deciding factor on weather you survive it or not. By keeping your head and doing the things you need to do you will progress beyond the person who gives in to their fear. There are ways you can prepare ahead of time.
Know your weaknesses: As I said earlier when I was in the city I almost found myself in a bad situation with some people, I realized that I was deficient in my ability to fight well. If I had been jumped I would have been a victim. When I returned home I began learning a fighting style to prepare me for future situations of that kind. Maybe you are going camping; do you have any basic camping skills? Are you prepared for hiking if you plan to participate in that activity? Learn the skills you need now before you go.
Learn to be at home in your surroundings: Another great movie in my opinion is The Mountain Men with Brian Keith and Charlton Hesston and I love the part where Brian Keith is guiding a greenhorn to the rendezvous and the greenhorn becomes lost. Be advised I am paraphrasing again. The greenhorn says “well haven’t you ever been lost and Brian Keith yells back lost, lost, hell no I’ve never been lost I’ve been a might confused for a couple of months but I’ve never been lost”. What’s the point you might be asking? The point is this; the Mountain Man was at home in the wilderness it was his home he was prepared and although he was not sure where he was he still was not upset about it. Picture yourself in your living room right now, you are at home and you are comfortable. Now picture your self in the forest, you can feel equally as comfortable there as well it just takes learning the basic skills and then over time improving those skills.
Every year we have people that get lost where I live in Arizona and it is interesting to see that quite often many of them went out with out water or proper clothing. Leaving your camp and being unprepared can be hazardous. When the people are asked why they were unprepared their reply is usually we were only going to be gone for awhile or we didn’t think you could get lost in Arizona its all desert. Until they actually become lost and find out that it can go from dessert to forest in no time. No matter where you go if you aren’t prepared you can be signing your own death certificate.
Acceptance of your situation can be one of the most important things that you do. Don’t forget you may not be alone, the person who is with you may be scared and unable to control they’re emotions.
Learn different ways to manage your stress. You also need to develop the attitude of winning. Why do I say that? Let me pose this scenario to you, you are stranded in the forest for a night and the temperature drops below freezing. You decide to curl up in a ball and hope that help arrives. Lets say that you make it through the night but certain parts of your body have frost bite, you get to the hospital and the doctor informs you that you are going to have to have a foot amputate or that your hand or both hands may never work right again. Technically you survived but did you win? The answer is no. What if you are lost in the city and somebody tries to mug you they start beating on you and you can’t fight them off. When you wakeup you find that certain bodily functions don’t work any more. You survived but did you win? What is your definition of survival?
Now let’s look at the other side: The Winning Mindset
Let’s revisit the first scenario that I gave you. You are stranded in the forest for a night and the temperature drops below freezing. Instead of curling up into a ball and hoping for a rescue you know that it is getting cold so you build a shelter out of the material that you have available to you in the forest. You then build a small fire fore warmth with the small fire kit in your emergency kit that you always carry with you when you travel. The next morning your rescue arrives and apart from being sore from resting on the ground you are in good shape. You survived and you won.
How about the second scenario that I gave you. What if you are lost in the city and somebody tries to mug you they start beating on you and instead of accepting defeat you fight back with everything that you have in you. The winning mindset is never giving up as long as there is breadth in you.