What is Mental Preparedness?
As like minded people in the preparedness community, we focus on gear, skills, and scenarios heavily to plan how we will deal with hardships that we may encounter. There are two other aspects that are much easier to overlook because they are much more work to improve for many of us, physical and mental preparedness. I’ve covered the basics of physical preparedness in another post that you can read here: https://nickspreparedness.com/2020/08/03/survival-fitness-for-preppers/ .
Mental preparedness is, at least to me, more important because it helps us reach our other goals, including physical preparedness. I have battled myself more in my life than any other adversary and I have realized that many times it was without even knowing that I was in a fight. I’ve had nowhere near what would be considered a difficult life. I have been very fortunate in many ways and am blessed in spite of myself and my actions over the years, yet I find myself to sometimes be bitter, angry, depressed, or anxious. Sometimes I feel a combination of all of these at once and it can really sidetrack my path to a goal. Mental preparedness is learning how to deal with these or any other detrimental mindsets before we are placed under the extreme pressures of a disaster, collapse of society, or infrastructure.
An important note on mental preparedness: While this post is meant to help bring awareness to the importance of mental control, I encourage anyone that needs help to seek professional counsel. It may take more than a book or a motivational speaker to get through the layers we have built around ourselves as a defensive measure. Don’t exhaust yourself fighting alone.
Why is Mental Preparedness Important?
Have you ever had one of those days that keeps getting worse? Some days it seems like we have a flat tire that happens to be during a rain storm, while on the way to an important appointment and find we have a flat spare tire and then get a call from someone with a complaint or problem that we are expected to deal with on top of everything. Think about the last time you had a day like that and how you reacted to the last straw. Did you stop, take a deep breath and adapt to the situation and continue forward? Did you loose your cool and scold the person who brought more pressure right at you tipping point? Did you shut down and retreat from everything? I have done the last two more times that i can count. I have expended more energy pitching a fit than it would have taken to solve every problem I had control of. I have lost time and progress in life by withdrawing and burying my head that i can never get back. It took years to realize that these were things that I had to learn to control.
With all of those reactions in mind, let’s consider being placed in the aftermath of a huge destructive storm and forced to survive with just what we have and with the survivors we have with us. Imagine the intensity of the emotions and pressures upon each of us in that situation. Most of us have never had a bad day in comparison to the ones we claim to be preparing for. Are we really ready to deal with it? Can we overcome ourselves enough to prepare now and adapt and perform if the time ever comes when we must?
Mental preparedness, for me, is correcting negative habits that keep me from being prepared as well as preparing to deal with the harsh difficulties we may encounter in survival situations. The concepts are both based in mental conditioning and habits and working to improve one goal will sharpen the other as well.
How Do I Improve My Mental Toughness?
As I mentioned before, never discount the help of a professional. Sometimes a counselor can help us realize things about ourselves that we would never see through our own eyes. That said, I’d like to offer some places to start.
Begin by taking a serious look at your perspective and understand that you are the only person that sees things exactly the way you do. Try to separate the expectations you have for others from expectations you have for yourself. We also need to look closely at how we react to situations. Survival will require us to make pragmatic decisions based heavily on utility and facts instead of emotion. Learning to separate fact from feelings is an important skill that will serve us well in all facets of life, especially when under pressure. The following book is one that i have read and am re-reading because of the wealth of the beneficial knowledge it offers. Pick up a copy or grab the audio book and listen on your commute. Click the picture below.
The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People
The other point I struggle with is habit. My tendency to over eat and under exercise has caused me to limit my fitness level severely. My habit of procrastination has left me behind on numerous goals i have set. Learning what our negative habits are and finding ways to reprogram them is crucial to improving our mental preparedness. An added bonus is that successful habit correction boosts the whole of our mental health and emotional intelligence and benefits us in other parts of life as well. If you are interested in the basis of habits or how to correct them, I encourage you to read or listen to this book by Charles Duhigg:
The Power of Habit
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