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January 10, 2016
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The Mind to Survive

I’m sure you have seen or heard stories of people who without any or almost any survival training go through traumatic experiences and come out the other side having survived what surely most of us would not. I really enjoy talking about this subject , another   way to think of it is mental survival.

 

Like me you see these people as the everyday Joe/Joan with something buried deep within that allowed them to make it through where 99% would have failed. Is it physical, mental, spiritual or luck? Study enough of these people and you might think to yourself it’s one or the other. Maybe a combination of all these.

 

What I would like to do is talk about how we can tip the scales from something we cannot control like luck to something we can control, the mental aspect and mental survival. Before I start I would like to recognize that luck, or whatever you call it does have a place in survival and should not be completely ruled out. That being said there are ways to more fully take advantage of lady luck when she does pay you a visit. That  is a topic for another time.

 

Do you have someone in your life that sees things their way, a different way and nothing you say or could show them would dissuade them from their course? Without trivializing too much, this type of thinking is most beneficial in a survival situation. The ability to say to yourself, “I’m never giving up, never giving in to the thought that today might be my last day. Or, this might be my last drink before I die.”  Some people have a mental skin that allows them to bypass these negative thoughts and focus on moving forward, staying actively engaged in productive endeavors and keeping a positive attitude, this is a facet of mental survival. You could say in a very real way they chose to survive actively, “I will never give up.” Or, they chose to survive by not entertaining the thought that they could not. Either way, they chose.

 

One can not ensure their survival. forces from beyond our control can and sometimes will get to the most steeled individual. However, our mind is well within our area of control and how we see and deal with “mind killers” again tip the scales in our favor. What are the “mind killers”? Fear is one, stress is another, pride or ego and negativity are all list toppers and can destroy your mental survival.

 

I wrote an article on fear already and I encourage you to read it. Essentially, we can cancel out fear through knowledge and practice. Stress is closely linked to fear so I won’t go into too much detail here.

 

Pride is a vicious killer. It will prevent action, fool, trick and can ultimately lead the individual to their own destruction. The worst thing we can do is lie to ourselves and pretend we have no fear, we are prepared enough or get into the “it will never happen to me” frame of mind. People are hardwired to act a certain way. For those who wish to survive there must be no room for pride. You need to seek the truth, admit that you do not know it all and you will need help.

 

Having a negative attitude is a kin to pride, but is more actively engaging and damaging to mental survival. Where pride will cause a person to think and dismiss a negative attitude will cause a person to sharply focus on what cannot be done, what is impossible and what should not be tried in order to save yourself. A person stays actively focused on all the ways to fail they make it impossible to see through to what can be done. If a negative person is in a group they can create trouble for not only themselves, but for the entire group when they make it their mission to tell everyone the only way is to fail. Try to stay engaged in your thinking and recognize when you start to have a negative attitude. Develop mental triggers that will stop your thought process and allow you to reconsider.

 

Lastly, not a single one of the mind killers is easily overcome. Practice, practice and more practice with situations that take you out of your comfort zone and allow you to stretch your body and mind will build critical experience and knowledge. Know going it that it will never be easy, but it will be worth every tear and drop of sweat when needed.

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