As times get tougher, as more of our liberties are eroded, folks are having a hard time staying positive. While I don’t advocate an unrealistic, “sunshine and daisies” sort of optimism, as preppers, we can’t just gloss over the importance of maintaining a positive attitude.
Back in 2008, I remember my first glimpses of “the survival scene” and they weren’t positive. I started reading SurvivalBlog, and I joined some online forums. My local community was recovering from “The Great Flood”, we were dealing with the toughest economic times I’d ever seen, and the political scene was rife with debate and scandal as we prepared to elect a new President. Everywhere I looked, I found messages like, “If you’re not prepared, it’s too late because TEOTWAWKI is just around the corner,”, and, “You’re out of time! There’s nothing you can do now.” It was all really stressful.
I was motivated by all the messages of doom and gloom, but it was that same kind of motivation that you get from your parents that’ll kick your butt if you don’t do what they told you. It was very negative because I was feeling like I couldn’t possibly do enough. “The scene” was constantly stirring folks up into a lather, and I was just as guilty of falling victim to it as the next guy.
When we bought our homestead in 2009, I started to feel a bit better. I knew that we had land and we had potential that we didn’t have living in a city of 40,000. I was able to start building a little food storage and a few provisions, but again, I never felt like it was enough. That sense of urgency was always nagging at me.
2011 was a changing year for me here at the homestead though. Somehow I happened upon Jack Spirko over at The Survival Podcast, and I was hooked from the first episode I heard. Here was a guy that had a lot of great info to share, and it was clear from day number one that he wasn’t trying to whip up a froth in his audience. He had a common-sense approach to preparedness that I found to be quite liberating.
See, Jack wasn’t shouting at us to grab our guns because the zombies are coming. He wasn’t asking us to go through all these elaborate measures to run for the hills, build bunkers, and live like loons. His message was simple. Store some food and water, grow a garden, get out of debt, and do something every day that increases your liberty and decreases your dependence on “the systems”. I can’t tell you how liberating it was to hear, “Do stuff that makes your life better today, even if nothing goes wrong.” (Those of us who’re TSP fans know that’s not his catch line, but that’s the idea that he shares in almost every podcast he does.)
Today, it saddens me to find dear friends and family where we were almost four years ago. These folks are reading too much doom and gloom literature, they’re paying too much attention to the media with its spin, and they’re getting caught up in that “I have to do everything NOW” mentality. I can honestly say from experience, that’s no way to live. When you’re balanced on a knife edge just waiting to fall one way or the other, you’re guaranteed stress, and when we’re stressed, we don’t always make the best decisions.
As a quick aside, I’ll give you an example. I have a dear friend who, like me in 2008, felt an intense need to do everything NOW once her eyes were opened to the concepts of survivalism. While I was thrilled that she was thinking about things like, “What will I do if we lose electricity,”, and, “What will I eat if there’s some sort of emergency,”, it killed me to watch her trying to meet all her survival needs at once by “buying her security.” By that, I mean that she wasn’t going to feel better until she bought all this stuff, and every time she bought something, the buy list for the future just kept getting longer.
Now, this friend has no debt other than a car payment, so she could afford to buy things if she wanted, but she doesn’t have savings anymore, and she has a lot of long-term food storage that she’s never tasted. She has storage systems from Shelf Reliance that she hasn’t even assembled. She has an elaborate grow system for starting plants that I think she’s never even gotten out of the box. She does have some stored water, but she has no way to heat it for rehydrating all that stored food. She simply fell victim to that negative motivation that can make life really uncomfortable sometimes, and I suspect that if it isn’t kept in check, it’ll lead to an awful case of prepper burn-out.
It’s stories like this that highlight the importance of keeping your head in the game. It’s easier to be positive, it’s easier to keep your head screwed on straight, when you’re not driven by fear. Fear of the impending collapse, fear of the bombs that’ll rain from the sky, fear of the loss of your home — whatever you think the next big calamity will be — gets you nowhere in the long run. In fact, I feel that feeling in my chest right now just writing about it. Fear is a healthy thing, but we humans aren’t meant to live in a constant state of fear, and that’s what we’re doing when we look around us and see nothing but doom and gloom.
If you find yourself getting caught up in the what if scenarios, if you find yourself focusing more on the “dark side” of prepping and survivalism, I want you to do a few things:
- Stop! Take a deep breath. The simple act of stopping and taking a deep breath can break the stress response. It’s a great way to get your thinking brain back in control when your primative brain wants nothing more than to run or fight.
- Put things into perspective. Focus. If you stop and think about it, it’s much more likely that you’ll use your preps for a storm, an illness, or a job loss than “the big one” or a meteor crashing into the Earth or thermonuclear war. Once you come to this simple realization, it makes prioritizing your preps much more straight forward. You don’t have to spend time stressing about EMP-proofing your car when you don’t even have a month’s supply of food and medicine for your family. If you put the perceived threats into perspective, it automatically throttles down that stress level so you can make more rational choices.
- Shield yourself from influences that are predominantly negative. For instance, I rarely get out of my house because I don’t drive and I live in a rural area. If my kids are fighting and my husband’s had a bad day at work, you can almost guarantee that I’m going to get caught up in the negativity as well. When that happens, I have to make an active choice to involve myself in more positive things. Whether it’s prayer or a phone call to a best friend or some time on the Internet, I have to be proactive. Being proactive means that you choose to put yourself into a more positive situation. You turn off the TV when the talking heads start trying to stir things up. You put down the book that’s feeding the negativity. You unplug so that you can re-group.
Trust me. In real life, I’m not obnoxiously optimistic. I have tough days too. I truly believe though that working to keep a positive attitude is time well spent. Learning how to avoid stress when possible, deal with stress when it’s inevitable, and channeling that stress into something positive when necessary will have you miles ahead of the pack on that path to personal liberty. You can choose stress and negativity or you can choose optimism and strength. I know which one I’m choosing. I’m convinced it’ll get me where I’m going a lot quicker than running around screaming, “The sky is falling!”