To quote "SEAL SURVIVAL GUIDE: A Navy SEAL's Secrets to Surviving Any Disaster", written by former Navy SEAL, Cade Courtley:
"The brain is the strongest muscle in the body. You've heard stories of how combat soldiers have been shot repeatedly but were not aware of it until the fight was over. These stories are true, and the power to do such things comes from the mind and can be tapped into by practicing mental preparation. This practice can allow you to far exceed your physical limitations. Just as you train other muscles, you can train the brain with mental-preparedness exercises -- and you don't need to go to the gym to do it! It's an exercise you can do anywhere. I can't stress enough how important mental preparedness is for surviving and enduring any life-threatening situation that you could encounter. ..."
I couldn't agree more. If you can read this book it is well worth the cost and it is easy to take some of the SEAL methodology and apply it to your mental health preparedness plan.
Acceptance. Change is inevitable, so we should accept it as part of life. When change occurs, learn to accept the circumstances that come with it. When faced with difficult challenges, this attitude makes it possible to focus only on the things we can influence. Thus, the things we can’t change become easy to accept and move on from. Similarly, when we can change things for the better, we move forward quickly and decisively. Therefor we need to re-learn to work hard NOW, so that we can pass the test when our resolve is put on the line during a crisis.
To work on our capabilities and limitations we should make a conscious effort to learn about ourselves and loved ones in every endeavor we undertake. This way we can improve our strengths and minimize our weaknesses. On top of this, knowing our abilities, values and priorities, improves our confidence and this makes it easy to resolve difficult issues. It also becomes easier to rely on our instincts and keep in mind what really matters in life.
Use our Emotions to our Advantage. Understand that stress, fear and anxiety are all normal human reactions to a crisis. When focused on them, these emotions can also generate depression and in some, debilitating depression.
Any human emotion can have a positive and negative impact. To get around this take advantage of our strengths, but also work on our weaknesses and fears by meeting them head on. Do this NOW, in a non-crisis environment so they have less of an effect on us when we are actually in a SHTF scenario.
Reminding ourselves that we are out of shape and not as strong or flexible as we used to be, robs us of the energy necessary to make a change and move on. On the other hand, positive thoughts create enthusiasm and excitement, which lend themselves to increased energy.
Make a list of positive self-affirmations. Think about your unique skills and abilities. It may be that you have strong legs which help you to bike up a steep hill. Maybe you are in excellent cardiovascular shape and are able to endure an advanced aerobics class with ease. It might be that you have natural flexibility that makes some movements easier for you to do in comparison to the average person. Use this list to remind you of your assets.
- Attribute normal reactions to existing stressors (fear, anxiety, guilt, boredom, depression, anger).
- Identify the signals of distress created by stressors (indecision, withdrawal, forgetfulness, carelessness, and propensity to make mistakes).
- Use encouragement and reassurance to help combat these stressors.
For example if you want to lose weight, when questioned about why you want to lose weight or get in shape, we probably give the “just to be healthy” speech. However, most of the time this answer is not our actual motivation for losing weight.
We need to be honest with ourselves about why we are pursuing our goal. This will be specific to each individual. Knowing our “why” before starting any preparedness goal will give us that inner-fire to conquer any challenges we may encounter.
Mental Building Exercises:
For these exercises we will utilize the psychological skills of imagery, goal setting, self-talk, controlling the jitters and performance preparation, just like a premier athlete before a big game.
No matter what our goal we must understand that the only way to get from where we are now to where we want to be is to drive through, jump over, or plow through these obstacles. Doing this while keeping our bigger picture in mind will assist us in reaching success.
Athletes often us a Vision Board: To make one, simply take a medium-sized presentation board and paste pictures on it that represent the goals you want to achieve. Put this vision board in a place where you will see it first thing in the morning. It’s a great technique to give yourself that little “push” to start off your day towards accomplishing any goal that you may have.
When lying on your bed or hammock, or if you are into meditation, use that, and imagine your worst case scenario, your worst preparedness fear. Include what it will sound like and smell like, the heavy breathing, going through all three phases of crisis reactions and the utter exhaustion the crisis is likely to create. Then imagine what you do to make it through that trial.
If the brain imagines something in deep and vivid detail, it will become part of a person's "experience files." This visualization exercise will actually fool the brain into believing that you have already experienced this event. You can tap into these files at will; kinda like hitting the play button that starts the "movie", only this “movie” is of what you have already visualized and planned. It will seem more or less familiar if ever you are confronted with a similar experience. This internal "battle-proofing" gives you an incredible advantage.
This will require digging deep so we can identify the single most important thing in the world to us.
Then make a mental picture of it. Use this image to "trigger" the essential qualities needed to survive. This mental image should make us want to live, no matter what comes our way.
Some common triggers are loved ones, aspirations and protectiveness. In essence this trigger will allow us to say "I will live and endure anything for this". This image or visualized goal is now our trigger and becomes our most important "memory file" and ultimate motivation to get through the crisis at hand.
People who go about their lives unaware of what is happening around them are the very people who most often are victimized or end up on some casualty list. This puts the general security of not only themselves, but their loved ones, the people around them and society as a whole, at risk. We owe it to ourselves and loved ones to stay alert. Just like visualization, situational awareness drills can be practiced anywhere. Make it a game you play when out and about and try the following exercises.
- Think like a criminal and walk around the outside of your house. Fix any weaknesses.
- Examine your daily routines with a "criminal eye". Look for patterns and then find a way to avoid them.
- Try to guess what individuals around you are thinking or doing. Why are they walking down the street or whatever.
- Look for odd behavior or things that seem out of place when you are out and about.
- Determine where you'd go if you had to seek immediate cover from an explosion or gunshots, whenever you enter an area or structure.
- Find the two closest exits to any room, structure or area when you enter it.
- Determine whether someone is following you or taking an unusual interest in you. This involves keeping a close eye on people around you and how they behave. Has this person appeared around you at different locations? Been to the same restaurant or movie? It also pays to bone up on body language.
For additional information on Situational Awareness see:
Situational Awareness and You
Female Self Defense: Situational Awareness
Reading The Signs: Survival Situational Awareness
Using Social Media to Enhance Situational Awareness
Next week we will cover our Spiritual Preparedness