The Basis for Survival: It’s All In The Attitude
This article is going to outline some fundamentals to help you mentally prepare for the challenges you will face in a survival situation. The mental preparation is crucial, because if you are not focused and in the right mindset, you will lose your ability to perform, plain and simple. First you must develop the will to win and use this as the cornerstone to how you approach your challenges.
Training is best conducted through repetition. I learned this early in my military career in the 82nd Airborne Division. When we conducted training we studied the concepts, performed a talk-through, then a walk-through, and then ran through the drills, whether they were movement to contact, sniper drills (immediate action), etc. This repetition is necessary so that the tactics are engrained in your mind and the actions become a matter of reflex.
Such is also true with developing the will to win and a proper mindset. Firstly, allow me to quote an old First Sergeant from my unit in the ‘deuce:
How you train in peace is how you fight in war.
Nothing could be more true, and this is why now is the time to develop your mental preparations to enhance your will to win. Vince Lombardi, former coach of the Green Bay Packers had a great saying as well. Here it is:
Winning isn’t everything…it’s the only thing.
Also very true, especially applied to your situation and surviving it. Second place in a survival situation cannot be a good thing. Gone are the great family dinners and the Jiffy Pop Popcorn in front of the TV. No more football games or quiet walks in the park. Think on this, and know an integral part of developing the will to win is your first step, here:
Know the gravity of the situation.
Simple, right? It can be, if you place everything into focus. There is no second place! Brevity of thought is encapsulated in that statement. This is serious, folks: if you don’t make your mind right and appreciate the gravity, the seriousness of the situation, you will probably fail. Here comes the second thing to keep in mind:
Do not fall to the “paralysis of analysis.”
Do not overanalyze the situation and allow your analysis to lead to complacency. You must think and then take action. So now you know the seriousness of the situation and you will think quickly and act decisively. Now for the third part, and this is the most critical of all:
You must know in your mind that you can win, and you will.
Positive mental attitude in this regard is the key to success. When I was in the Q-course for Special Forces, I used to do a little ritual in the morning. As I finished shaving, I looked into the mirror, and said to my reflection, aloud:
I can do it. I will do it. I am Special Forces.
I also repeated this ritual before I went to sleep. When I was in the field and training, I accomplished this with a metal mirror that I carried with me (for shaving, signaling, etc.). I did this ritual every day for more than a year and a half. Why? Positive reinforcement and repetition. The mind is a complex instrument, and it is a battlefield…a battlefield for you if you do not exert constant control over it.
What good are all of your talents and skills if you do not believe in yourself? How can you hit a home run if you don’t believe that you can when you step into the batter’s box? You must reinforce yourself and believe that you will succeed. Believing that you will win is the key to winning, and this is in all areas of life.
I was sitting on the ground leaning against a tree at Fort Bragg with my fellow SF candidates when we were approached by the Commanding General of SWCS (Special Warfare Center and School), paying us an informal “visit.” The general waved us all at ease while he walked around in our midst. This was just prior to our final night of land navigation testing.
“Gentlemen, you have one of two choices to follow. You can be a Commando, or you can be a Dirtbag; [this word edited and censored; you can use your imagination here] the choice is yours.”
Several men let out a loud yell, and the exuberance rippled in the group. I remained silent, and (of course) the general focused on me and walked over to me.
“Soldier, what’s your choice? Do you have what it takes to be a Green Beret?” he asked. His dark eyes were intense, and there was the hint of a smile on his lips.
“General, with all due respect, I am a Green Beret. I just haven’t been given permission to sew on the tab yet, Sir,” I replied quietly, and the general broke into a grin. I had referred to the Special Forces Tab, sewn on the left shoulder of the uniform upon successful completion of the Q-course. The coveted tab that I was ready to die to earn, if necessary.
The staff officer (a major: his aide) was mortified, along with several NCO instructors, who angrily moved in my direction, but the general waved them off.
“You definitely have a pair, Sergeant. That’s good, though: a little cockiness never hurts, if it gets a man through. I’m going to be watching you. I’m going to expect you to succeed. Don’t disappoint me,” he said.
“Yes, Sir,” I replied, “fired up” inside, as my fellow candidates looked on, stunned.
I made it through the course, and the general was there at the end when I stepped off the stage, grinning proudly. He also became a mentor to me later on and was instrumental in helping me submit my packet years later for OCS.
The point I make with this illustration here is that you must believe in yourself and that you will succeed in order to survive and triumph. The battle for survival starts within the mind. It is not enough to say, “I think I can get through this hurricane,” or “I might be able to stop these intruders.”
No. You must say, “I will make it through. I will defeat those who would hurt me and my family.”
In this way you are strong for yourself and strong for your family. The mind is the key to a victory, and a victory can only come if you believe in yourself. Practice this on your own with other things: challenges in your job, in your workouts and physical training, and in tough situations you face out on the street. Develop the will to win on a daily basis through repetition and reinforcement, and you will find that you can rely on your determination to carry you through when the SHTF. Have a great day and do good things…well!
Jeremiah Johnson is the Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne). Mr. Johnson was a Special Forces Medic, EMT and ACLS-certified, with comprehensive training in wilderness survival, rescue, and patient-extraction. He is a Certified Master Herbalist and a graduate of the Global College of Natural Medicine of Santa Ana, CA. A graduate of the U.S. Army’s survival course of SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape), Mr. Johnson also successfully completed the Montana Master Food Preserver Course for home-canning, smoking, and dehydrating foods.
Mr. Johnson dries and tinctures a wide variety of medicinal herbs taken by wild crafting and cultivation, in addition to preserving and canning his own food. An expert in land navigation, survival, mountaineering, and parachuting as trained by the United States Army, Mr. Johnson is an ardent advocate for preparedness, self-sufficiency, and long-term disaster sustainability for families. He and his wife survived Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Cross-trained as a Special Forces Engineer, he is an expert in supply, logistics, transport, and long-term storage of perishable materials, having incorporated many of these techniques plus some unique innovations in his own homestead.
Mr. Johnson brings practical, tested experience firmly rooted in formal education to his writings and to our team. He and his wife live in a cabin in the mountains of Western Montana with their three cats.
This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition
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