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Turn the Tables on Discouragement With a Simple, Smart Technique

Lisa Bedford shares some wise advise on how to counter the fight or flight instinct, thus keeping you calm in the midst of chaos.

This post was kindly contributed by The Survival Mom


“ The greatest test of courage on earth is to bear defeat without losing heart. ”

— Robert Green Ingersoll

Many of us survival and preparedness-minded individuals live each day with a foot in two worlds. We still go to work, still take care of the kids, still wonder what we’ll make for dinner, but simultaneously we also keep an eye on world events, warning signs of increased economic turmoil, and everyday disasters that might affect our families. It can get crazy, but more than that, it can be very discouraging.

Recently my husband and I came to the conclusion that in our current location we will never have survival-minded friends. Our family members are focused on other issues and concerns, and at times we feel like black sheep. That can be discouraging.

Today a reader sent me this:

Since the “Doomsday Preppers” show has come out, I am finding that there is a HUGE disparity between the beliefs of my husband and I and those of the people in this area, which includes family. Yes, we are bizarre, crazy, and such. When welfare is the biggest employer in this area (and some people seem to be proud of that fact), there isn’t a whole lot of thought to preparing for the future. Sigh….I am discouraged on many fronts these days.

image by Andrew Mason

We talk a lot about preparedness and the conclusion we have come to in our household is this: if we really believe that our country, and the world, is on a downward spiral and that a collapse of our economy is inevitable, then we have no choice but to act on those beliefs, even when we get discouraged.


It would be the ultimate example of parental neglect if we didn’t prepare our household for a coming Greatest Depression. We shake our heads at the numbskulls who ignore hurricane warnings until the day before and then wonder where all the bottled water has gone, but is it any different to see a massive storm of another type on the horizon and refuse to prepare or allow emotions to overcome our common sense and determination?

Emotions come and go. I get discouraged when I don’t get a blog post written or drink all 8 glasses of water each day. When it’s 5 p.m. and I’ve forgotten to defrost the chicken intended for dinner, I get discouraged. Those feelings are fleeting, however. I don’t give up on my blog or on being healthy just because I’m bummed out.

A long time ago I learned a handy little trick that has helped me re-focus my brain when I’m overwhelmed with emotion. There is a small almond shaped area in the brain that controls our fight, flight, or freeze responses. When something triggers a strong emotion, fear, for example, the amygdala begins screaming at us, and we either fight, flee, or freeze. To counteract that message, you can activate the left side of your brain, which controls logic, rational and analytical thought. Simply start counting. That’s right. Begin with “1, 2, 3, 4…” and continue. By forcing the left side of your brain to jump into gear, you can begin to take control over those impulses generated by your amygdala.

Several years ago I experienced a rather frightening incident while waiting for a flight at the Baltimore Washington airport. I had just gone through security when suddenly alarms began clanging and security people appeared from out of nowhere, yelling at everyone to freeze. A few minutes later we were herded into a large area near the ticket counters and stood there for almost an hour. Since this happened just a year or so following 9/11, it was more than a little unnerving.

Standing there with my suitcase I was determined to not let my emotions overcome me, and I began counting. Not only did I count but I also visualized the numbers on a chalkboard. It didn’t take long until I felt completely calm, and my amygdala realized it wasn’t in control anymore!

Counting doesn’t make the problem disappear, but it will make you calmer and more able to handle whatever the challenge might be.

Frankly, survival and preparedness aren’t exactly sunshine-and-lollipops subjects. Every one of us, from James Rawles to the newest prepper newbie, experience moments of fear and, yes, discouragement. It’s okay to take a break from the news. It’s okay to take a week or two off from your “prepping”. I mean, before you got into preparedness you had another life, right?

Take a break. Count to 100, or 1000 if that’s what it takes! Give your amygdala the day off. Your body and emotions will thank you.


© 2012, thesurvivalmom. All rights reserved.

This article was originally published at Ready Nutrition™ on June 12th, 2012

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