The simple secret to surviving any crisis

By Patrice Lewis

Some time ago I collected a few links about why some people survive a disaster and others don’t. Assuming the event is survivable (and sometimes it’s not), it seems to have a lot to do with attitude.

You might remember the horrific 1994 sinking of a cruise ferry on the Baltic Sea. “Six hours into the journey,” notes this article, “pushing through a force nine gale, the bow door broke open and the ferry started taking on water. Within an hour it had sunk, taking with it 852 of its passengers and crew.”

Even survival experts were astonished at the high death toll since it appeared many people drowned because they did nothing to save themselves. The official report concluded, “A number of people … seem to have been incapable of rational thought or behavior because of their fear. Others appeared petrified and could not be forced to move. Some panicking, apathetic and shocked people were beyond reach and did not react when other passengers tried to guide them, not even when they used force or shouted at them.”

Military survival instructor John Leach has researched behavior in extreme environments and has studied the actions of survivors and victims from dozens of disasters around the world, including one in which he was personally involved. He learned that in life-threatening situations, “around 75 percent of people are so bewildered by the situation that they are unable to think clearly or plot their escape. They become mentally paralyzed. Just 15 percent of people on average manage to remain calm and rational enough to make decisions that could save their lives. The remaining 10 percent are plain dangerous: They freak out and hinder the survival chances of everyone else.”

Why? Why do some people remain calm and rational and others become paralyzed? Or as Mr. Leach puts it, “Why do so many people die when they need not, when they have the physical means to save themselves? Why do so many give up, or fail to adjust to the unfolding crisis? In most disaster scenarios … you don’t need special skills to survive. You just need to know what you should do.”

A key to this inexplicable behavior lies in another article harvested from The Organic Prepper entitled “The One Simple Secret to Surviving Any Disaster.” “When disaster strikes,” notes the post, “will you be ready? Will you be organized, calm, and ready to adapt to whatever the situation brings? Sometimes we have some warning, and sometimes things happen out of the blue. There is one simple secret that will allow you to sail through nearly any crisis. It doesn’t cost a lot of money, or take up an entire roomful of storage space. It’s your ability to accept the scenario.” [Emphasis added.]

Denial, it appears, is more than a river in Egypt. It’s the mental condition that frequently dooms anyone involved in a disastrous situation. People who think, “This can’t be real, this is what happens to other people, it’s not happening to me,” are often the ones who don’t make it, because their denial paralyzes them into immobility.

This is confirmed by social psychologist Jerome Chertkoff. “Being in a situation where your life is in danger increases your emotional arousal, and high arousal causes people to limit the number of alternatives they consider,” he writes. “That can be bad when trying to determine a course of action, since you may never consider the option most likely to result in escaping safely.”

Learn how to achieve a simple lifestyle without “going green” or joining a monastery. Read Patrice Lewis’ helpful book, “The Simplicity Primer: 365 Ideas for Making Life more Livable”

In emergencies, it seems, people often fail to do what, under normal circumstances, would be obvious. Therefore survival experts agree the only reliable way to shortcut this kind of impaired thinking is by preparing for an emergency in advance. This practice makes actions automatic, without the need for detailed thinking.

Now let’s make a bit of a mental leap. Not all disasters happen abruptly or without warning. Some disasters unfold with warning bells or red flags occurring anywhere from days to years ahead of time – like our economy. Those who deny (there’s that word again!) these warnings are often the ones who are impacted the most when the disaster hits.

About a month ago, Gerald Celente, publisher of the Trends Journal, posted a YouTube interview entitled “The Whole System Is About To Collapse” in which he described the propensity of people to freeze in the face of disaster. “Think for yourself,” he urges. “Nobody thinks for themselves anymore. They trust authority, but nobody thinks for themselves.”

He’s right. Today, most Americans have the attitude that someone will take care of them and therefore they have nothing to worry about. They’ve lost the courage to think for themselves, so they put their lives into the hands of others. This propensity starts young, when schoolchildren are taught to accept without question whatever is the current government line, rather than learn independent thinking skills. As adults, we specialize in denial unless told otherwise.

Very simply, unprepared people panic. Preparedness encompasses both the mental and the physical ability to accept and act on a situation. “All you have to do is ask yourself one … question,” says John Leach. “If something happens, what is my first response? Once you can answer that, everything else will fall into place. It’s that simple.”

This is the question many preppers are asking about the economy. We are answering that question, “If something happens, what is my first response?”

Our clueless president assures us, “America is poised for another good year.” He says this despite catastrophic unemployment, record food stamp usage and an unprecedented national debt. Tell me, when you think about the state of the economy, do you get a warm fuzzy feeling of security and prosperity? Or do you have the uneasy feeling (as Gerald Celente puts it) that the whole system is about to collapse?

How many flashing red lights do we need before we put on the brakes? How many screaming sirens, how many warning bells do we have to hear, how many wrecks scattered on the roadside do we have to pass before we realize there’s a cliff ahead and we cannot continue our trajectory?

Prepping has gone mainstream for a very good reason: people are no longer listening to the soothing platitudes of lying politicians. Some people are accepting the scenario and asking themselves, “If something happens, what is my first response?” They are not in denial. They see the handwriting on the wall.

I urge you to do the same, because there’s a strong wind blowing, there’s no one at the helm, and we’re taking on water.

Media wishing to interview Patrice Lewis, please contact [email protected].

Leave a Comment