Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Mind of the Survivor

The material quoted below comes from an article by William C. Prentice, published in Survival Blog. Prentice describes the mindset, attitude, and basic psychology of "a survivor." He is not talking about "survivalists," but rather he is describing people who are more likely to survive a trying situation, regardless of its nature.
I know that no matter what happens, I can cut it. I have a number of skills developed over the years, but that is not what I am talking about. I am talking about that most important of all attributes: the survivor’s mind. This is what enables a person to apply skills to the resources at hand to overcome whatever is thrown at them, and turn those circumstances to their advantage such that surviving looks more like thriving.

A man or woman cannot overcome a substantial survival situation without a conditioned mind. You could parachute all of the necessary supplies right on top of a stranded person and they will fold up and die if not properly conditioned mentally. You could parachute a properly conditioned man or woman into the middle of nowhere with nothing but a knife and a piece of rope and they will come out okay, or at least make a hell of a good show of it.

The key elements of this capability seem easy to identify. Above all it consists of a consistent determination to be self reliant. When something happens, you are not likely to sit around waiting for someone to tell you what to do or take care of the problem for you. I suspect that anyone who is a regular on SurvivalBlog.Com has a good start on this one. Another key attribute is the ability to adapt and overcome changing circumstances, without an initial emotional breakdown...Thirdly, you must be able to instantly size up a strategic situation, evaluate its potential lethality, and recognize a true survival matter when it arises. Part of this is recognizing threats when they arise, which requires awareness of your environment and how it can interact with you. Some people go through their entire life in Condition White, never knowing that they were at risk until they have already become a casualty. A fourth key element is just “guts” – the refusal to give up and accept defeat.

...Where do the mental attributes of a survivor come from? How can you become hardy in a nation that is going through an era that history will probably call the Age of the Wimp?

... My father structured my education and training, and that of my older brother, to stress not only survival skills, but to promote the development of what he called the combat mindset. The training included horsemanship, woodsmanship, hunting, climbing, martial arts, wilderness travel, wilderness medicine, and general problem solving. In an act that would probably result in his being jailed if it happened today, both my brother and I spent a week on our own in the Mojave Desert when in our early teens, followed by several repeat performances in the Eastern Sierra and Mojave throughout our teen years.

We were encouraged to participate in sports, but my father demanded that we understand the limitations of team sports as a foundation for developing individual self-reliance. My father coached my brother’s little league and pony league teams, but he was never happier than when we were with him in the mountains or the desert hunting, climbing, or working through some survival situation that he had concocted.

I don’t think that it is necessary to be a survival expert to properly nurture a youngster so that they will be able to handle whatever is thrown at them. As described below, the training and experience for skill development is available for anyone to acquire if the desire is there. The minimum required of a parent is to teach the philosophy of personal responsibility and self-reliance, refrain from coddling the little darlings into becoming wimps, and support the acquisition of skill and knowledge as a lifelong endeavor. _Survivorblog
Much more at the link above.

In The Dangerous Child movement, we emphasise the development of a wide range of skills and competencies. We believe that as a child experiences the mastery of a number of skills through planning, hard work and smart, determined practise, his level of confidence will grow.

Confident children who have already solved a wide range of problems on their own, are more likely to be able to solve a wide range of problems in the future.

Chance favours the prepared mind. That is true for invention and innovation, as well as for survival.

To develop a child's mind into "the mind of the survivor," parents, mentors, and teachers must begin early in development. Problem-solving and skills mastery come naturally to young humans, if given the chance. Early problem-solving such as learning to walk, talk, manage bowel and bladder control, climbing, etc. will merge seamlessly into the learning of more advanced skills -- if the child is given the chance.

Such skills training and valid confidence building is a much neglected part of child rearing and education in modern societies. But it is far more important than most of the things which parents do to "take care of the child."

It is never too late to have a dangerous childhood. But if you want your children to make the most of their own lives, it is better to start sooner rather than later.

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