Often when we think about survival, we think about tools and techniques that can save our lives in the face of imminent danger. These are definitely important skills to keep in mind – but there is one more thing that is often overlooked and arguably more important than any survival gadget you own.
Your brain – more specifically, your mindset is an amazing and dangerous tool all in one. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a closer look at just how important your mind is in survival situations.
According to studies, 95% of people that perish from psychological trauma die within the first three days. Survival truly is a mind over matter situation. There are countless stories of untrained, unprepared people surviving insurmountable odds simply because they refused to give up; they refused to stop trying.
The will to survive can trump firearms, knives, and survival training any day of the week. Almost as common as stories of unprepared people surviving horrible conditions are stories of well-prepared individuals who have specialized training that perish. They perish because they gave up their will to live.
What is a Survival Mindset?
Although we may be born with a will to survive, we can improve our survival mindset through training. The Navy SEALs are one of the most elite Special Forces units in the world; as many as 75% of prospective SEAL recruits fail to complete the intensive training program.
The Navy wanted to find out why so many physically-capable candidates were failing and launched a research project for answers.
Physical ability is not the issue. Intelligence is also not the issue as most SEAL candidates tend to score above average on IQ tests. Psychologists performing the study determined that the sole reason for failure was that the candidates were not mentally prepared for the emotional and psychological stress of training.
As a result of the study, the Navy added psychological training to the SEAL curriculum and failure rates have been reduced drastically as a result. Let’s take a closer look at these tactics and how we can apply them in our own lives.
We all know the importance of setting goals in life. They help us to achieve things we desire and give us a plan that we can follow to achieve these aspirations. In a crisis situation, goal setting is even more important.
Short-term, midterm, and long-term goals are all important aspects of a proper survival mindset.
- Short-term goals – A short-term goal might be as simple as surviving the next five minutes during a dangerous situation. When the human brain is stressed, it’s easy to fall into patterns of illogical thinking and irrational behavior. By focusing on short-term, easily achievable goals, it becomes much easier to regain rational thought processes and remain positive in the face of extreme danger.
- Midterm goals – No, we are not talking about midterms in school. A midterm goal could be locating and securing shelter for the evening or finding food. Although time limits are not critical, a midterm goal might be an hour in the future. Normally, a midterm goal might be considered a 5 – 10 year plan; in a survival situation we have to think differently.
- Long-term goals – In this context, a long-term goal might just be surviving until tomorrow. When we think of long-term goals, we think of our overall plan for life or some major event in the distant future. In a survival situation, we must break this chain of thinking by creating easily achievable goals that keep our mindset in check.
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