Being mentally prepared to face a crisis is as important as any piece of equipment or technique that will be mentioned in this manual. A generation ago, being prepared was more than just the motto of the Boy Scouts;; it was a way of life. Your grandparents knew it just made common sense to prepare for an unexpected emergency or disaster. Today, your friends and family may look at you like you're nuts. when you talk about the need for emergency supplies and a disaster plan.
That is because in recent generations we have become complacent. We have had ever increasing modern conveniences, making life easy, and have enjoyed long periods of relative financial ease. Rarely have any of us or our friends or neighbors had any problems with the availability of goods and essential services. When you read the headlines of terrible disasters in Japan, Haiti or even closer to home in New Orleans, but still take an attitude of "it's sad, but something like that can't happen to me." You may be taking the incorrect attitude as this can happen to anyone.
It is the unforeseen situation. And the sooner you prepare for it in your mind, the better you will be able to prepare all around.
Did you ever stop to wonder why in any given disaster, when a group of people face similar, dire circumstances, some make it while others perish? Skills and their relative level of preparedness are factors of course, but so is their mental attitude! Having the "survivor mentality" can often mean the difference between life and death.
How you deal with stress has a lot to do with your ability to survive in any kind of crisis. It isn't always the person with the greatest physical strength that is better at handling an emergency and more likely to survive. Being able to think clearly is your most valuable asset in a survival situation.
It has been proven time and time again how mental and emotional states are more important than physical skills in survival situations - just take a look again at the story of Tillie Tooter mentioned in our Intro. You can have the strength of an Olympic athlete, and the best survival gear available, but they will be useless to you if you allow fear and stress to takeover - and you sink into despair and a negative attitude.
When encountering extremely hazardous situations, your most crucial task will be to solve problems as they arise in order to stay alive. You must be able to recognize threats to your life, know their priority of significance,
and the severity of the threat to your life. Then you must be able to take the necessary action that will keep you alive. It is a physical fact, that when you are calm your brain can process information more efficiently, and problem solve more effectively - that is what is meant by "thinking clearly."
According to the U.S. Army Survival Manual, stress can inspire you to operate successfully and perform at your maximum efficiency in a survival situation. But it warns that stress can also cause even the best soldier to panic and forget his training.
The key to your own survival is your ability to manage the inevitable stress you will encounter in an emergency. You are a survivor when you work with stress instead of letting your stress work on you. Fear and panic are your greatest enemies. Unless you learn to control them, they can destroy your ability to make intelligent decisions and cause you to react to your feelings and imagination rather than to your situation.
And what does the Army manual say can "vanquish fear and panic?" Training and self-confidence! And you don't need military level training to achieve that! What you do need is some basic training (such as the information provided in the Manual) but more importantly the self- confidence that comes from knowing that disasters can happen, and being properly prepared for them.