We have previously discussed the importance of a positive mental attitude in survival. In extreme circumstances, your attitude and mental response to the situation can literally mean the difference between life and death. That’s all very well, we hear you ask, but exactly how do I develop a positive mental attitude? Here are some tips on how build a more positive mindset:
Act More Positive
We’re not saying that you have to be happy all the time – that’s impossible. Thrown into a survival situation, even the best of us are going to find it difficult. However, it is about having a more optimistic approach when dealing with hardships. There are some people who naturally do this better than others but we can all train ourselves to improve our behavioural responses to problems. It may take considerable time to lose old habits and form new ones but in doing so you can also improve your daily life, not just your chances of coping with an extreme situation.
- Concentrate on solutions to problems, not just the problem itself. When faced with a problem, mentally list or even write down any possible solution, no matter how far-fetched. Chances are you will come up with several initially, then through analytical process you can narrow down the achievable solutions.
- Take action. Burying your head in the sand will never help you and will make you more miserable. Taking very small steps towards your ultimate goal still brings achievement and the confidence to spur you on to the next part.
- Stop complaining and do something about it. When you literally or metaphorically fall down, get back up again and keep trying.
- Accept that bad things happen and circumstances change suddenly for everyone, no matter how charmed their lives may seem. This is never more truer than in a survival situation where we are stripped down to our most basic needs and instinct to survive. Blaming yourself, or anyone else, is not productive, accept it has happened and move on to finding a solution.
- Recognise that having and maintaining good relationships with others is more important than anything you will ever own. In a survival situation involving other people, you are stronger as a cohesive team that works together, but a team needs individuals with good relationship skills to keep it together.
We all know people who seem to get through life by just winging it. For most of us, that approach does not often go well. You’ve probably had a job interview where you failed to prepare properly – and we’re betting it was uncomfortable, stressful and you didn’t get the job. Obviously, it is not possible to prepare yourself for every possible scenario that could happen, but knowing a little about how to fend for yourself puts you in a better starting place than knowing nothing.
- Prepare for the worst and hope for the best. While on the face of it this sounds pessimistic, if you are ready for the worst case scenario and it doesn’t happen, then anything else that happens is a better case scenario and therefore should be easier to deal with
- Familiarise yourself with what actions you should take in different life-threatening scenarios that could occur in places you frequent or are planning to go to. For example, read government advice as to what to do in a suspected terrorist attack or the RNLI guidance on how to get yourself out of a rip current when going to the beach.
- Do some survival training. Any amount is better than none, why not base a holiday around it with your mates or children?
You could have undertaken years of survival training and know exactly how to make shelter and find food, but if you have never learnt to control your emotions, that information is of no use to you if you immediately get sucked into a massive panic attack the moment everything changes.
- Recognise, acknowledge and understand your emotions and triggers. By reflecting and learning these, you can control both your behaviour and responses more productively.
- Learn relaxation techniques to help you keep calm and focussed in stressful times. Different people suit different methods but look into things such as breathing exercises, meditation and repeating positive affirmations.
Don’t sit and dwell because that’s when the demons in your head start chipping away at you. Do something. Anything. You may feel like you are in an insurmountable situation but decide what the end goal is, then break it down into smaller goals, such as making shelter, finding food, collecting firewood to burn. Focussing on each task in hand will help to prevent negative thinking and behaviours whilst raising the sense of achievement and confidence to continue.