8 Useful Ways To Build A Survival Mindset

What’s the one thing you need to survive in any situation? It’s not food. Not gear. It’s your brain.

A positive mental attitude could be your only lifeline when things go south, and it could save others’ lives, too.

Want to come out of a disaster alive? Here’s all you need to know about the survivalist mentality when SHTF.

What is Survivalism?

This question is often thrown around but with no definitive answer. Survivalism could mean several things to different people.

For preppers like us, though, survivalism is the practice of preparing and training the mind to keep yourself alive through some crazy-ass situations.

In many instances, a lot of folks choose to overlook this facet of survival. We often read and hear about stockpiling goods and buying boatloads of gear, but what happens when your brain glitches out and fails to function?

You might decrease your chance of survival, and you wouldn’t want that, do ya?

The Importance of a Survival Mindset

That said, your goal as a prepper is to stay alive when faced with a life-or-death situation. But how exactly do you do that? It’s a hard nut to crack, but we’ve got answers for you.

It’s essential to have a strong survivalist mindset because:

  • Your survival depends on your mental state. Make sure it’s in good shape.
  • People who have a healthy survival mindset have a higher chance of coming out of a disaster alive than those who don’t.
  • How you mentally respond to an emergency on the scene is just as important as preparing for an SHTF plan.
  • You must have strength in character, a determined spirit, and a will to live if you wanna survive.

Once you develop a strong survivalist mentality, you can kick death in the butt. Sweet, huh?

Best Mental Practices

When we sense a threat to our survival, our brains immediately decide to fight, flee, or freeze. We’re only human, so our initial reaction when in mortal danger is to panic. No surprise there. But since we’re preppers, you should know by now we don’t do that around here.

Fighting to survive is easier said than done, but like any skill, this type of mindset needs to be developed little by little.

The trick here is to make use of the fear to focus on survival. How? Two words: mental practice.

Here are the eight best mental practices to help you develop a strong survival mindset:

Stay calm

First thing’s first: keep calm. You probably saw this one coming because it’s a cardinal rule in survival. 

We know disasters can put you in distress, but running around like a headless chicken could worsen your situation. You must compose yourself first and remove any negative thoughts.

Here’s how you can stay calm during a stressful situation:

  • Practice deep breathing to relieve stress and anxiety. Box breathing is a breathing technique Navy Seals use to keep themselves calm and focused during high-stress situations. Check out the video above to learn more about box breathing.
  • Try a quick progressive muscle relaxation exercise to center yourself.
  • Create a mental picture of your calming cue and focus your mind on it.

And once you clear your mind, you’ll have complete control of any circumstance. This way, you’ll be able to deal with what’s right in front of you and perform necessary actions.

Don’t stop believin’ (in yourself)

We bet Journey always knew what they were singin’ about.

It’s an overused anthem, but it’s on point. When SHTF, you gotta believe and rely on yourself to get out of sticky situations. 

If you’re often reliant on others, here are a few tips on how you can learn to be independent:

  • Be more self-aware. Take time to assess yourself. How you respond to stress affects the people around you.
  • Try to look at things from different perspectives. Open your mind to other possibilities. 
  • If you’ve got something to say, don’t be a chicken and speak out.
  • Be more in control. The decisions you make will determine your course in life.
  • Fend for yourself when the going gets tough.

Survivalists aren’t born quitters. Believing in yourself is a simple mental conditioning exercise that could make a difference. When you trust in your capability to take action in an emergency, there’s no doubt you’ll prevail.

We know it sounds like some woo-woo advice, but trust us. These exercises can help you develop self-reliance and resilience---two major traits you need to have if you wanna survive.

Know your surroundings

Being conscious of your surroundings is called situational awareness. It takes discipline to develop, but you’ll thank yourself for it when the unexpected happens.

Here are some examples of how to develop situational awareness:

  • Always assess your surroundings. It could be as simple as being mindful of entrance and exit points whenever you're in a new place or being aware of how many people are gathered in a specific area.
  • Be swift to recognize potential threats.
  • Avoid being too complacent. Always be on the lookout.
  • Generate what-if scenarios and make action plans. Having a Plan B or C wouldn’t hurt either.
  • Understand the need to take responsibility when a threat arises.

Another piece of advice: always trust your instincts. Who knows, your gut feeling might just be your ticket out of the woods.

Be decisive

Your life is in your hands, man. It’s as simple as that.

How you take correct, decisive action will determine your chance of survival. You’re not just the thinker, but you’re the mover, too.

We make decisions every day of our lives, sometimes even the wrong ones. But if you’re smart about it, you can use this opportunity to enhance your decision-making skills for when SHTF. Here’s how:

  • Weigh the pros and cons to arrive at the best decision possible.
  • Limit your deciding factors for peace of mind. Learn to filter out the noise and focus on the critical things on hand.
  • Evaluate the significance of a decision. Will you be the only one dealing with the effects of your decision, or will it affect other people, too?

This skill is best practiced when an unprecedented situation occurs. For example, when a natural disaster hits town and you have minutes to decide whether it’s smart to bug in or bug out.

The bottom line is, you gotta stick to your decisions and run with them. You can even go as far as practicing your decision-making skills by participating in prepper drills or dry-runs.

Channel your inner chameleon

Doomsday could creep up any minute, and there’s no way of telling how it’ll affect your way of life.

Adapting is how the human body responds to a change in the environment. If you fail to adjust to new conditions, this could lead to your untimely demise. And that ain’t good. 

Check out these tips on how to boost your adaptability skills:

  • Force yourself to take risks. 
  • Be open to change.
  • Always have a contingency plan.
  • Learn to move on if things don’t go as planned.
  • Power your curiosity through learning.
  • Be resourceful.
  • Listen to the thoughts and opinions of others.

There will come a time you’ll be thrown to the wolves where the possibility of survival is pretty thin. And your only way out is channeling your inner chameleon. It means changing your perspective and looking for alternative solutions.

Think positive

An optimistic attitude could change your fate in more ways than one.

A study on survival psychology reported that people who don’t make it in a catastrophic situation are ones who simply give up despite having an equal chance of survival. In short, they’ve lost their will to live and chose to die. At the same time, survivors who persisted under the same stressful events lived to tell the tale.

The research proves one of the many benefits of positive thinking where resilient people can overcome adversity with strength and resolve.   

We know focusing on the good when you’re dying sounds hella crazy, but it can significantly impact your physical and mental health.

The feeling of helplessness happens to the best of us. And there’s no shame in showing you’re temporarily incapacitated.

When that happens, all you need is a change in mindset, and positive thinking could be a quick remedy.


When staying home becomes unsafe, bugging out could be your only shot at survival. Make sure nothing goes wrong.

Download our FREE guide on HOW TO BUG OUT SAFELY and learn how to idiot-proof your bug out plan now.

Develop a personal mantra

Negative thoughts could linger in and out of your mind when you’re in a stressful situation. The secret to driving away bad ideas is to develop a personal mantra you can chant under your breath.

Your mantra could be an impactful word or a motivational phrase as long as it keeps you centered and clears your head. You could go with something like “Nothing lasts forever---not the good, not the bad,” or you can channel your inner John McClane and go “Yippee-ki-yay.” It’s all up to you. Positive reinforcement is your way out of negative thoughts and could prove vital to your survival.

Set goals

An exercise that’s essential in survival is setting the right goals. Your main goal here is to stay alive no matter the circumstance. And to do that, you must walk past every obstacle to reach your desired outcome.

A lot can happen in an emergency, and you’re bound to get overwhelmed. But not when you have your goals set straight. When you do, it allows you to take proper action in a particular situation.

Final Thoughts

Supplies alone won’t keep you on this earth. Your chance of survival also rests on how you mentally handle a situation.

Developing a survival mindset takes practice, and you’d wanna brush up on your psychological skills ASAP. Fair warning: Training the mind isn’t as easy as you might think, but it pays off when the need arises.  

How mentally prepared are you when SHTF? Let us know in the comments below!

Posted in  Survival   on  February 16, 2021 by  Pat C.0


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