Self Reliance Mindset
Your mind is the most important tool in your self reliance tool box. No matter how much gear you buy or food you store, no matter how much time and money you invest in material preparations, the only thing you are guaranteed to have with you in an emergency is that wonderful lump of matter called your brain. Gear is cool, but in the end it is your skills, knowledge, and attitude that will save your life. The self reliant lifestyle starts by cultivating a self reliant mind that is calm, confident, focused, and resilient. This mindset starts with the following five principles.
The absolute first step towards a more self reliant life is to accept responsibility for your life. We typically think of responsibility as a matter of obligation and commitment, as an external demand on our time, energy, and resources. That is not what we are talking about here. A self reliant mind is one that accepts and acknowledges that crime, accidents, and disasters happen and that we have complete control over how prepared we are to meet them. A responsible mind does not look to the police for protection or to FEMA for food, it looks for its own solutions. A responsible mind creates its destiny by reducing its dependency on others. It does not blame and it does not judge; it prepares and it takes action. Too often we put responsibility for our own safety, our own security, and our own happiness on others — the police, the government, our families, even our financial advisors– and, when bad things happen, we want to blame someone else — the criminal, the weather, or God. If you truly want to be more self reliant, then put the responsibility where it belongs, on your own shoulders.
Modern life is overly complicated. We want more stuff, bigger houses, social status, better jobs, grander vacations, power, riches, and on and on. This is what our culture says is important. Each of these things can be good, but none of them will make you happy. A complicated life is a distracted, stressful life. Self reliance seeks more through less and quality over quantity. Prune yourself of unhealthy, divisive relationships and focus on the ones you treasure. Get rid of the clutter in your home to reduce your stress. Find time to learn or spend with your family by clearing your schedule of unproductive meetings and by turning off the TV. The more we simplify our lives, the more time, energy, and resources we have to train and prepare. Simplicity is the secret to productivity, and by focusing deeply on fewer things you will ultimately live a richer, more fulfilling life.
Have Gratitude in All Things
Too often our lives are dominated by “wants” and “whys”. Such as, “I want a new iPad”, “I want a better job”, and “Why did this happen to me?”. This unhealthy mindset leads to jealousy and resentment, and cultivates a feeling of helplessness. It’s hard to prepare when you feel resentful and helpless. Practicing gratitude empowers us to focus on the positive rather than the negative. Through gratitude we learn to turn adversity into opportunity. When something “bad” happens, step back and find just one good thing about the incident. That may simply be that you are still alive, which is a powerfully good thing indeed! Gratitude is a habit, and once you get in the habit of looking for reasons to be grateful, every challenge becomes an opportunity to grow.
Americans are obsessed with goals and results. We judge ourselves and others on our jobs, our cars, our money. We mistakenly believe that, “Once I get (fill in the blank), everything will be OK.” But it never is. We put off doing the things we love until we reach some goal (a promotion, retirement, and so on). The simple truth is that the goals just don’t matter. They are sign posts on our journey, not the reason for the journey. Often, our goals limit us rather than help us because they blind us to even grander possibilities. Even more often, the goal appears to be so far away that we become discouraged and quit before we even begin the journey. For instance, imagine setting the goal of storing a years worth of food and water. It’s easy to get overwhelmed. How much does it cost? Where will you store it? What should you buy? How are you going to cook if the power is out? You have a million questions and no idea where to begin so you delay and rationalize, and the next thing you know a year has passed and you are no closer to your goal. All you need to do is to take one step and then another. Buy a box of MREs or a bag of rice. Start the journey, keep moving, and the goals will take care of themselves.
I planned thousands of flights and hundreds of operations during my Air Force career, and not a single one of them was executed according to plan. Yet, I became a better pilot and a better planner each time. Murphy is alive and well in the universe and no matter how carefully you plan, something unexpected will happen at the worst possible time. Be grateful because that is how we learn and grow stronger. How do you relate to the word “fail”? Does it make you angry, nervous, anxious, or does it make you determined and excited? We all fail, and when we do we have the wonderful choice to quit or fight on. Adversity is just another word for opportunity; opportunity to grow, to learn, to change, and to succeed. When we learn to embrace adversity our fears melt away because we know that what ever happens next we will rise to the challenge and deal with it the best we can. Isn’t that what self reliance is all about?
Don’t get consumed by your material preps. Don’t fall in love with your gear. All of that can and will fail you, but if you have the right mindset it won’t matter and you’ll find a way to succeed and survive anyway. Take some time to develop your self reliant mind. Write down why you are prepping, test your gear in real world situations, and get training that takes you out of your comfort zone and pushes your limits. Wilderness survival training is a great way to work on all five of the principles discussed above, because the environment is so foreign to most of us and it forces us to focus on our most basic needs while bringing us face to face with the very same fears and limits we will face in any emergency situation. Your mind is the most important tool in your toolbox, so make sure you are making it stronger and more resilient every day
© 2012, mjshozda. All rights reserved.