Our modern lifestyle creates a certain way of thinking, as well as many habits that are common and even useful now. However, in the event of a disaster that mindset could become troublesome or dangerous as circumstances change and your way of living is adjusted drastically.
First and most importantly, de-segmenting
Generally speaking our current life is designed all around specialization and segmenting parts of your life. If you work at a job, you probably do so as part of one large machine that produces, advertises, and sells a given product or series of products. You probably have certain skills you enjoy using or that you are interested in such as woodworking, computer programming, or writing but allow others to fill the gaps in your knowledge. You certainly have the constant presence of warning labels, instructions and directions, and the efforts of designers and legislators to make everything as safe and user-friendly as possible.
After a disaster you might have a group that can separate some roles out, giving special place to medical, agriculture, and defense experts within the group. Generally speaking, however you will have to be able to work in both big-picture managing areas and small scale detail work. Rather than being able to rely on others to fill gaps in knowledge, you’ll largely be dependent on what you and a very few others know and what you have available in books to guide you. You’ll have to be more inventive, more willing to think and work outside of the box, and able to gauge risks in a very unsafe and unregulated environment.
In short, you’ll have to break your mind of the habit of segmenting everything you do and be able to flow flexibly from one part of your life to the next. Food gathering, preparation, and purification, self-defense, medical skills, difficult moral decisions, comforting the mourning and distraught, structure design…the list of tasks that may be left to you alone is immense.
Generally speaking almost everything we have know is made to be bought, used, and tossed rather rapidly. Products are designed to break after a given period of time so that you need to buy one of those sparkly new models, food is made to be cooked within 30 minutes, and the idea of planting and working to reap months later is almost completely foreign to us. Heck, we complain about traveling across massive bodies of water in complete comfort for a mere 12 hour plane trip! Such trips used to be harrowing journeys months long, with no guarantee of making it to the other side.
Post-disaster, everything is going to both speed up and slow down at the same time. You’ll be thrust from a world of Wal-Marts, highway travel and airplanes into one where foot or rare vehicle travel cross-country is going to be your best bet. This means that your immediate needs are now much more difficult to meet (which speeds things up) but the means of getting food, water and the like are now going to take much longer and require more forethought and planning (which slows things way down).
Basically this means you’ll have to think beyond the day you’re living in. Are you considering where your food will be coming from 3 months from now? How about 6 months? In a post-disaster situation you will need to look beyond the abundance of now and prepare for the potential famines rearing their heads in the future. When everything has to follow the glacial slowness of an animal breeding or plant growth cycle yet provide for the constant daily needs you’ll need to be constantly thinking far ahead and getting ready. The days of just “taking a day” and not thinking about the future will be finished…at least until some semblance of order and civilization returns.
Lack of situational awareness
I’ve been guilty of this myself more than I care to think. Our world is so safe in so many ways that we have people who literally walk into poles because they can’t see beyond the phone they’ve glued their eyes to. Every bridge and curve has half a dozen warning signs about every potential hazard, every chemical lists what damage it may cause if drunk or splashed onto the skin, and even plastic bags are carefully coated in warnings!
A post-disaster world will be dangerous in many ways and it will require a great deal of attention to the situation at large at the details found in it. Anything from disturbed vegetation to signs of a firefight or a collapsing building will be important to note and possibly avoid. Even in your sleep, you’ll have to doze lightly and you’ll be alerted by any small innocuous sound that could indicate trouble.
Although you don’t need to be Spider-Man and sense danger before it is even visible, you will need to keep your eyes open. Imagine the kind of attitude needed to walk down a very bad part of town in the dead of night and you’ve started to touch on the level of caution and awareness needed to survive properly in an emergency.
Are there other mental habits that you can break to have a better survival mindset? Let us know in the comments below!
This article first appeared at Prepared For That: Bad Habits to Break to Improve Your Survival Mindset