Tips & Basics

Thinking About Resilience, by C.H.. Eliminate addictions from your life.

Introduction

I would like to direct this article to new SurvivalBlog readers. Perhaps you were referred here by a friend or coworker. Perhaps you stumbled into SurvivalBlog through an internet search. However you arrived, if you’ve taken the time to poke around, you may be overwhelmed by the abundance of information on preparedness both here and at other sites.

As of this writing, the war between Hamas and Israel has entered its third week. The death toll continues to rise. Dead and wounded among the victims—the Israeli citizens and other nationals—number in the thousands. Violent demonstrations against the US have started in many countries and the State Department issued a rare worldwide travel alert for Americans.

We are confronted with spiraling debt, out-of-control government spending, a tepid economy, rising Fed interest rates, falling return on investments, falling wages in real terms, and a de facto open border. I don’t think anyone will question that we are living in uncertain times.

One of the many problems with a 24-hour news cycle and the internet is that it is easy to be overwhelmed with information. It is too easy to begin following so many things that may lead to “The End Of The World As We Know It” (TEOTWAWKI) that “doomscrolling” becomes a habit. It is important to realize that there is probably little or nothing you can personally do to avert TEOTWAWKI.

So, what can you do if eventually the disaster hits, whether national, worldwide, or personal? Where to begin?

I suggest a strategy and lifestyle focused on resiliency. There are many books on this subject, so I’m not going to do an exhaustive treatment of the subject. Late in the Aughts decade, resiliency became a buzzword in the Army, largely focusing on troops facing multiple deployments and breaking themselves and their marriages under this stress. If I recall correctly, the Chaplain Corps held quite a few seminars and wrote about it. There is no secret to what resiliency is—simply it is landing on your feet after the carpet is snatched out from under you.

Developing Resiliency

Here are a few ideas to develop greater resiliency:

Get your finances in order. Avoid personal debt as much as possible. I’m not talking about business debt where you are financing business assets and earning an income. And I’m not suggesting breaking the budget in the near term to pay off a 3% mortgage. I’m speaking specifically about credit cards. Interest on these things is approaching 25%. As it is said: “The borrower is slave to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7). Other financial gurus have written extensively on emergency funds, savings, and investments, and those are important, but get out of debt first.

Get yourself in shape. This is different things to different people. Essentially, be healthy and make better choices in food. Lose weight and be more active. This will help build muscle. You don’t have to hours upon hours at the gym to begin. Take the steps instead of the elevator. Park further away from the door, you’ll burn a few more calories and are less likely to get a door ding.

Never stop learning. Skills can never be taken away. Common examples within the preparedness blogging community are: First aid, fire starting, land navigation, and weapons. These are all important, but how about learning to cook? I don’t mean heating up Hot Pockets in the microwave. You shouldn’t be doing that if you’re out of the college dorms. Learn to use raw ingredients and spices to create nutritious meals. This will be much easier on the wallet and much easier on your arteries. There is a wealth of information online that will show you how to do this. I have a sister who works for a well-known “big box” store. She is consistently appalled by the garbage food that people buy and put into their bodies.

Make reading a habit. It is the single most efficient way to gather theoretical knowledge to put into practice. This includes reading for pleasure. I’ve had a lot of inspiration come from reading fiction and put that inspiration into practice.

Gather the things you need. As with much in this column, there will be a wide variety here between individuals. What you need, rather than want, will depend on where you are and your specific situation. At one time I thought I would be “bugging out” to a different location in the event of the SHTF. At the time I had multiple plans to Escape and Evade (E&E) from where I was living to the family homestead in the Ozarks. One of the plans I developed (not the primary one) included carrying a pack and a rifle and traveling on foot a couple hundred miles to my destination. “Things” in the plan included (among a great many other things) a small tractor, tiller, plow, pioneer tools, and the like. Now it is thirty years later and multiple days of walking with a pack is simply out of the question. I’m now married and have responsibility for others. Now, I’m looking at staying put, or “bugging in” as much as possible. My list of “things” has changed accordingly.

Eliminate addictions from your life. There are quite a number of these.

Tobacco. There is no reason to smoke cigarettes or chew tobacco. You are paying people to kill you. In 1993 I worked at a nationally known convenience store. Premium cigarettes were $1.95 a pack. The other day the person in line ahead of me bought several packs at $8.95 a pack. This is a health and financial drain.

Television. I enjoy watching the local weather forecast, as there are things that your weather app cannot tell you. Beyond that, however, television can be an extremely depressing waste of time. Especially when watching the news.

Social media. Similarly, people waste countless hours of pointless scrolling on various social media apps. Research is showing that early exposure to “screen time” can literally rewire the brain in the very young. For those of us in the prepper community, there can be a tendency toward “doomscrolling.” Stop it. Strike a balance between being informed and “the sky is falling.” Besides, on social media, you are the inventory.

Doomscrolling. Related to television and social media is doomscrolling. This is spending hours reading the most horrible of stories, whether about war, crime, or the economy. Try to limit this, as what you fill your mind with is what you become.

Pornography. This may well be the biggest mental addiction in the country today. The internet has made this accessible to all ages. Adults can do what they want, of course, but repeated exposure does lead to a rewiring of the brain. Regular use over time leads to the need for higher levels of dopamine to achieve the same level of pleasure. Even without that, see television. Waste of time.

Alcohol. Some people are tea-totalers and that is fine. I am most definitely not and think one of the high points of civilization was when humans learned how to distill whiskey. However, if you are spending your evenings in an alcoholic haze, you are not taking care of your responsibilities to your family or to yourself.

Stock up on food and supplies. The LDS Church (Mormons) suggest a year’s supply. Most people have about a week’s worth. No, do not go buy Kroger out of toilet paper. That isn’t the point. Don’t put yourself in debt buying six months or a year worth of survival foods. That doesn’t fit with getting your finances in order. What you can do is pick up a case of beans or an extra package of rice, or another staple, with each paycheck. This won’t strain your budget and will slowly build up a pantry. Take baby steps.

Do you need to relocate? Look at your local area, whether urban or smaller. Years ago, a framework came out of the counterinsurgency operations in Iraq and the doctrine folks at Fort Leavenworth called PMESII. This was a framework to look at the Contemporary Operating Environment in terms of Political, Military, Economic, Military, Social, Information, and Infrastructure aspects. While the military applied this to countries or regions within a country, you can adapt this to your community, city, or county.

Here are some PMESII factors to consider: Does the county commission or city council listen to the citizens? Are you near a military installation? What is the relationship like between the police and sheriff and the people? Do they consider themselves law enforcers or peace officers? Does the State have pre-emption for firearms? Who are the major employers in the area? Is the economic base primarily retail, industrial, or agricultural? Do most people commute and how far? What religious, social, or fraternal organizations are available? Is there a local paper or cable television access channel? How does local government get information out to the people or do they? Are there grocers, doctors, dentists, hospitals, plumbers, electricians, and emergency services? Does the community where you live now or where you are considering relocating to lead to more or less resiliency?

Consider changing jobs. Most people are dependent upon a paycheck. Changing jobs is difficult, particularly if you have been employed at the place for a long time. You may need to do so, if you have decided that the move mentioned above is more beneficial than staying put. Which is more beneficial?

Protection. This includes protecting yourself, your family, and your home or retreat, and the tools to effectively do so. Know the laws in your area, because they are not the same in Kansas as they are in New Jersey.

Find the like-minded. This has been called networking or developing a mutual support group and many books written on the topic. I don’t think it is as complicated as all that. Know your neighbor, whether the people on your block or the next farms down the road. Know the sheriff. Find the good and like-minded people in your community. They may be family and friends. They are likely people you know. Most importantly they are the people you trust.

Cultivate a positive mindset. This is the most important thing you can do. Radiate positivity and be hopeful. It is not the same as a Pollyanna-ish attitude. But if you are without hope, then why not lie down and die? Last year, I was in a conversation with a colleague that covered many of the topics here. A young woman was listening nearby and interrupted saying, “[if that happens]…I only need one gun and one bullet. I am not a survivor.” She seemed quite angry about having heard the whole conversation and I think it was one of the most horrible things I’ve ever heard someone say. A well-known talk radio host is constantly saying “Let not your heart be troubled.” I think this is good advice.

Conclusion

All of the principles listed above can help you become more resilient. The nature of the disaster is irrelevant, whether economic, war, or simply the loss of a job. However, remember that none of it matters if not put into practice.

Resiliency and preparedness have a lot of overlap and neither is a destination so much as a journey. Yes, you may have a lot of work to do, I know I do, but it is not insurmountable. Get started, prepare, and be of good cheer.

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