Why We React to Disasters Badly

Society focuses on two kinds of people after a disaster— those who survived the catastrophe and those who didn’t.

Usually, we’ll herald the survivors and spread the word of how they made it out alive. Then we count our losses, pay our respects, and move on. Rarely do we even focus on why some survive while others don’t.

Sometimes, you’re just unlucky, and you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time. Still, sometimes, it’s the inability to act or respond immediately that causes death during disasters.

Here are what can cause us to freeze up in an emergency:

Fear of the Unknown

The fear of the unknown will always be our biggest obstacle. When we’re faced with something unfamiliar, we usually freeze up because we don’t know what to do. Unfamiliar scenarios or events do that to us, and a sudden emergency or disaster is no exception.

Confusion, Hesitation, and Uncertainty

With fear comes confusion and hesitation. These almost always come hand in hand. Even when you overcome the initial fear, you’re still stunted because you don’t know WHAT to do next. Do you run like everyone else, or do you stay put and hide? It might take you a few seconds to decide, but it also takes only a few seconds for something catastrophic to happen.

Cognitive Paralysis

Put all together, this is the main reason why some don’t survive. Even when the world is going to shit, some people will continue to do things as they usually would. For example, instead of running during an office fire, some people might tidy up their desks and pack their things calmly before heading out. Sure, sometimes this passivity can save you, but most times, it will be the death of you.

The Importance of A Survival Mindset

So what’s the main difference between those who don’t survive and those who do?

Simple; the mental state they are in, in that given moment.

The survival mindset comes into play here, and those who have the philosophy ingrained in them have a higher chance of surviving any emergency they’re put in.

If you aren’t mentally prepared to handle a disaster, then those training, simulations, and even those survival tools you have on you will be useless. They might even be the death of you.

Developing the Survival Mindset

Prepping and survival dictate that you need to have a sound and calm mind to make the right decisions. A survival mindset will see that you survive, so developing it right from the get-go is something you need to focus on and habitually do.

Here are some tips for doing just that:

Control Your Mind and Your Thought Process

Our mind can have numerous thoughts in the space of an hour. From the important things happening in life to some of the dumbest ideas, our mind can run wild like a captured stallion breaking free from its chains.

When we get stressed or put in a situation that we don’t like, these thoughts amplify tenfold. You usually find yourself overwhelmed, fearful, and anxious. Major no-no.

As them boys like to say, “Control yourself, woman!” And control we must. Here’s how:

  1. Become aware of your thoughts – More often than not, we don’t even know why we’re thinking about certain things. Becoming aware of our thoughts helps us ground ourselves and focus on something. Once we’re focused, we can then learn to take control of our thoughts.
  1. Learn to sift through them – A little mental exercise to figure out which thoughts are good, bad, or neutral can go a long way. Learn how to discern and how to stop thinking of specific thoughts. This way, you can be better at controlling them.
  1. Do away with the wrong thoughts – Once you learn how to sift through your thoughts, train yourself to get rid of the negative ones. These thoughts usually stop us from thinking clearly. We want to be sure in our actions to up the chances of survival; anxiety and fear from negative thinking won’t help us.
  1. Breathe – There’s a reason why meditation works; being mindful and aware of yourself, as well as breathing helps you focus and recenter your thoughts. Learning a breathing technique or controlled breathing can help calm you during a bad situation.
  1. Think of your loved ones – Alright, we know this sounds corny on paper (digital page?), but it works. Thinking of family, friends, loved ones always helps you calm down. You don’t want them to see you panicking, so staying as cool as a pickle is what you want.

Get Used to Setting Goals

This is the best way to develop a survival mindset. Setting goals, having desired outcomes for a situation helps to simplify it.

If you ask yourself what you want to achieve, automatically, the answer will always be to survive. The next thing to ask is, how do you plan to achieve surviving and making it?

That’s how you move forward and develop the necessary actions to make it through a challenging situation and survive.

This method will take some getting used to, but it’ll become second nature with continued practice.

Try to apply it to everyday situations to get the hang of it.

The Art of Visualization

You know how to set goals; now learn to visualize them. It’s like a rehearsal in your mind of the steps and actions you need to take if you’re in a particular situation, and it’s a really great way to prep your mind.

Visualization is a technique taught to emergency responders, athletes, and the Armed Forces because it teaches them to learn to anticipate events better and not be caught off guard.

If it’s good enough for them, hell, it better be good enough for you, buddy.

For example, visualizing what you would do if the fire alarm in the workplace suddenly goes off. Visualize the first thing you’d do, where you’d go, what exit points are nearest to you, etc.

The best part is that you can do this at any time. Sitting on the bus? Get visualizing! It’s a great mental exercise and helps develop the survival mindset further.

Practice, Practice, Practice

As they say, practice makes perfect. You need to keep training your mind and practicing because studies have shown that being regularly exposed to an exercise helps the brain remember something better.

It becomes muscle memory and almost like a secondary automatic action. Training and practicing mentally and physically preps you.

How can you practice what you’ve learned?

  1. Practicing your breathing technique in everyday situations or when you need to calm down.
  2. With your visualization exercise, pair it with physical acting. If you’re thinking of an earthquake, literally do the duck and cover method. Doing that helps create a connection between mind and body on what to do.

To Recap…

  • Stay calm. Yep, it might be easier said than done but don’t become a slave to the crippling fear. Use your fear to your advantage to motivate you to survive.
  • Make a rational decision and take appropriate action. Think, then act but make sure that all you do is towards a goal that ensures survival for you and others.
  • Manifest success. Alright, yeah. It might sound like what some bull con artist pastor might say, but we’re gonna double down and stand with it. You gotta develop the conviction that what you’re going to do will succeed, and it’s a guarantee that you‘ll live. It’s about the will and determination to live that will see you through.
  • Do what you need to do. We’re all a hopeful bunch, but more importantly, we’re all realists. And as true realists, we know that rescue might be a far off option. So we know that when the going gets tough, we gotta do what we gotta do. Anything that sounds impossible will be possible as long as we rely on our common sense and knowledge. You have to trust yourself.
  • And lastly, never give up.

Final Thoughts

Disaster can strike any time, so it pays to be prepared for it not only in supplies and tools but mentally, too. A survival mindset might just make the difference in seeing you through to live another day.

Got more tips on how to enhance your survival mindset? Let us know in the comments section below. Don’t forget to check out the other amazing articles we have on the site, too.