A good Youtube video by eNosArmory talked about the top ten skills for a prepper.
In this post, I’m going to write about what I see as ten top personal characteristics for a prepper or for a survivor. Like skills or equipment, we can work to improve personal characteristics.
1. A will to survive. Perhaps, ironically, under the most painful circumstances just wanting to live doesn’t provide sufficient motivation. It’s good to have some purpose higher than just your own survival. You have to have something you really want to live for.
Several stories portray people badly mangled by buses, cars, trains, and other machinery. They’re alone with no one to help them. They’re in extreme physical pain, sometimes with broken backs or lost limbs.
Rather than lie down and stop fighting, they struggle against the pain and survive. When asked what saw them through the event, many times they respond by saying that they had a small child they had to take care of at home. They worried about what would happen to the child if they died.
It’s good to find some purpose in your life that will motivate you and allow you to overcome adversity. This won’t help you much with your day-to-day prepping, but could help you survive in extreme circumstances.
2. Adaptability or flexibility. The easier you can adapt to a changing world, the more likely you are to survive and thrive. Many of us are set in our ways. I know I am. We have our likes and are dislikes.
Food is a good example. We like to eat certain things. In a wilderness survival situation, we have to change our way of thinking about food. We truly will be “eating to live” rather than “living to eat” when scrounging for food. Taco Tuesday will be replaced with leap frog Friday. Some people perish because they can’t stomach what is fully edible.
To improve adaptability, try something different that you don’t usually do. Move a bit outside your comfort zone.
3. A desire/willingness to learn new things and improve. This is related to #2 above. It’s always better to see yourself as a student than as a teacher. The student is learning new things and gaining new skills.
Watch out if you find yourself saying something like: “I’ve done it this way for twenty years.” Maybe, there’s a better way today.
The best way to improve your willingness to learn new things is to learn new things. Pick something you don’t know but are interested in and begin learning. It could be gardening, upholstery, playing a guitar, anything, really. It’s the process of learning something new that’s important.
With this attitude your skill set will constantly grow throughout your life. You’ll build up your bank of personal experience. You never know when you’ll need to reach into that bank of skills during a crisis.
4. Courage. Courage is an important attribute. I’m not saying you need to go into the woods and try to wrestle bears. But in a crisis, you might need to summon the courage to do something you’re afraid of. You must take the appropriate risk for the situation.
Self defense provides a good example. If you’re forced into a self-defense situation, you must vigorously defend yourself. Some people will hesitate. They’ll be tentative. Mentally, they don’t want to accept that they’ve been put in this horrible situation and they just hope it will go away. You must have the courage to face whatever situation you’re in.
Courage isn’t about training. It’s much easier for Chuck Norris to be “courageous” in a fight than an untrained fighter. When the prospect of death is at hand, pretty much anybody can lose it. If you have a need for some situation-specific courage, the better prepared you are, the easier it is to act.
5. A prepardness mindset. We’ve discussed this before as being a key to being a prepper. You need to think about what can go wrong. You need to think about what preparations you need to make, and then make them.
I stumbled upon a story of three ladies, who on the spur of the moment, picked up and took a road trip through Death Valley.
They became lost. They hadn’t let anybody know about their road trip. They didn’t have a desert survival kit in their car.
If you’re taking a road trip through the desert, spend a bit of time learning about desert survival. Carry plenty of extra water. Let somebody know the route you’ll be taking.
I wrote about a similar winter experience in The Prepper Next Door, where a family becomes lost. I emphasized there that we often underestimate the dangers of modern vehicles carrying us far away from modern, safe, civilization. A prepper will always ask “What if my vehicle breaks down? What if I become lost? What if…” Asking questions like this will lead you to the solutions and the preparedness steps you must take.
6. Confidence in yourself, specifically, the belief that your actions can have an impact in your life. This is related to Courage and a Will To Survive. It will motivate you to take action. A neat little news piece talks about this.
7. A sense of happiness/acceptance with your own life. Forgive your own mistakes. Accept that you’re not super man/super woman. How the heck does this help our survival? Life stress is largely cumulative. It builds up from multiple fronts.
In a previous post, I linked to a video about a lady going ape-S*^% over a comment about her cutting in line. It’s not the comment, but other stuff in a person’s life that sets them up for these outbursts. (This parallels what I wrote in the book too: Many violent attacks occur because a person feels “dissed.” To us, a comment might seem harmless enough. But if somebody is already on the edge, it might be what sets them off.)
The more your life is in order, the more clear-headed you’ll be. The happier you are, the easier it is to focus on the important and let less significant things go. This will help you focus on the problem at hand without pent up frustration overwhelming you.
8. An ability to contain stress/frustration/anger/fear. This is related to #7. All of us will have some stress no matter how perfect our lives otherwise is. The ability to function under stressful circumstances is a key to survival. The ability to “think on your feet” is a valuable skill.
Some survival experts argue that actual IQ drops during high stress. Focus on the basics. Assess the situation. Take an inventory of what you have and where you’re at. If you’re lost in the woods, don’t run around. Sit down, take a deep breath, and look around. Calm yourself.
Many are familiar with the story of climber Aron Ralston, who had his hand trapped by a boulder. He assessed the situation before deciding to cut off his hand to escape.
When engaging in activities that can turn dangerous-climbing, canoeing-it’s good to have a buddy with you. This alone will reduce stress in a tough situation.
9. The ability to think for yourself and not blindly follow the crowd. I’ve written about this pretty extensively in the book and won’t repeat all that here. Suffice to say, we often look to others for clues about how we should react to strange situations. The other people often don’t have a clue. This leads to a situation where the blind follow the blind. And, because everybody seems to be going along, nobody objects.
A common exercise for both survival and group leadership is to ask people to rank items in order of importance and see how they answer. For example, you might be given a plane crash in the wilderness as the scenario and a list of items on the plane. Which items do you feel are the most important? Why?
The interesting thing in this exercise is that the most vocal often have the most say, regardless of how much they actually know. A person with extensive wilderness experience might go along with the consensus, even though he feels it’s totally wrong.
It reminds me of an old joke: An airplane pilot has a heart attack. The stewardess asks if anybody can fly a plane. A passenger jumps up and tells the fellow sitting next to him to follow him and help him. The first guy takes the controls and starts barking out orders. The plane crashes.
The two deceased passengers are standing in line to get past the pearly gates in heaven. An angel asks the first passenger what his occupation was and he answers, “I’m a lawyer.” The angel asks the second passenger and he answers, “I’m a retired airline pilot.”
The lawyer turns to the retired pilot and says, “Why the hell didn’t you tell me you knew how to fly a plane?” The retired pilot responds, “Well, you seemed so confident in flying the plane, I didn’t want to interrupt you.”
10. If you’ve read this far, you already have persistence. For our last personal characteristic: Resiliency. The ability to bounce back from setbacks.
If you have a strong will to survive, adaptability, a desire to learn, courage, a preparedness mindset, confidence in your actions, the ability to work through stress and fear, independence of thought, and resiliency, you’ll be psychologically very well prepared for adverse survival situations.
Charlie Palmer – author, The Prepper Next Door.
Here’s a good article about pepper sprays.
A good interview with David Nash, about his book about handguns.
March is Brain Injury Awareness Month
Colorado is banning magazines over 15 rounds.