There are no Lone Rangers in a survival situation. Anyone who believes they can effectively pack a bag and wander into the wilderness to live out any crisis alone for an indefinite amount of time is either highly trained or incredibly naive. Even the greatest of survivalists will attest that human contact is very important for both physical and mental health. When a person is out alone for extended periods in the wilderness even in peaceful times they can become subject to a type of paranoid schizophrenia having auditory hallucinations and feelings that something malevolent is watching them from the dark. Once self delusion creeps in even the most seasoned survivalist can become his/her own worst enemy. Having at least one other person in your team effectively doubles your chances of survival in any situation.
Your success will depend greatly on the effectiveness of how the group operates and communicates with each other. To that end each member should strive to be of the greatest benefit to the team. In order to even begin to be a great team member one must first acquire the most important tool for survival: a positive mental attitude. I call this attribute a tool because just like any other tool a positive mental outlook can become dull quickly if it is not constantly sharpened. Without a doubt if this tool isn't sharpened at all times all the other tools in your pack are just dead weight.
When the shock and adrenaline wears off a person will be left with the reality of their situation. Often times in crisis situations these feelings of fight or flight are replaced by: regret, disappointment, anxiety over the future, nostalgia for better times, and self doubt. All of these will lead directly to fear which will destroy the confidence of not only the individual but the group as well. In these cases it is easy for someone to fall into wishful thinking hoping an external source will solve their inner fear. Real hope for success will not come in the form of rescue but from replacing those dark feelings with acceptance, self-confidence, and hope for the future.
Once one has moved from crisis mode the focus should be first to collect themselves together to become and stay calm. Decisions made under heat of frustration are always regretted later. Once we have a calm mind then we can begin to assess and accept the situation. There is no point ignoring the obvious hoping the trouble will just go away on its own. The sooner we accept the reality of our situation the more quickly solutions can be formed. Becoming aware of the nature of the problems is the priority so focus can be kept on the ones the group has control over. We may not be able to control staying dry or warm at the moment but focusing on being wet and cold will not help the solve the problem. Rather than be reminders of discomfort they can be used as motivation to take steps in solving the problems.
The easiest thing to do is to let the situation take control and become a victim of circumstance. There is no work involved only a choice to be powerless against the perceived conflict. A team member who makes a victim of themselves will discourage communication and progress within the group. The best way to not become a victim is to remove oneself from the situation. If someone could imagine they were someone else watching themselves struggle with the issue, what would be the best advice for that person? Staying objective will be the key to keeping a positive mental attitude and being a great team player. If all else fails, find someone in the group who mirrors the desired traits to stay close to them, ask their counsel and help them with their struggles. Before too long we will be ready to become a producer of success rather than an inducer of fear and stress.
Another easy role to fall into during crisis is that of the martyr. This is the person who accepts responsibility for everything believing it would be easier for them if they just did it themselves. This is actually a false form of leadership and inspires more anxiety in the team through a lack of participation. The truth is nothing is easier alone. Each participant is greater for the experience when the objectives are shared. Being willing to teach and to learn from our team members will foster fellowship and encourage confidence in the ability of your team to succeed. Helping each other succeed will ensure each individual's success and well being.
Worry can be every bit an enemy of success that self absorption is and more. Worry effects everyone faced with challenging times but how it effects them is up to the individual. The keys to defeating worry are knowledge and acceptance. Stay realistic and fully assess the situation. If some problems have no solution at the moment then there is no need to worry about them. Instead of finding reason for more worry, look for reasons to be thankful. It may be true that stormy weather has fallen but we can be thankful for energy to build shelter and that we won't have to worry about where to get drinkable water. Our clothes may be soaked right now but they were beginning to get gamey and needed washing anyway. The same attitude can also be applied to our preconceived contributions to the team. Don't disparage because one teammate brought an ax and you didn't, be happy not to have to carry the extra weight and that it won't be your responsibility to chop the wood. In every respect keep focused on the positives and be thankful for the advantages each has to offer.
Crisis is where we learn who our friends are and where we learn most about ourselves. We will never know what we are capable of until faced with the circumstance. For those who have survived such times they have come away with a greater appreciation. Positive thinkers are tough minded people and staying positive may be the hardest job no one ever wanted. It is rough staying positive when there is so much uncertainty about the future and the welfare of those we love. Keeping our minds free of negative reinforcements will be paramount and there will be many ways to help keep our thoughts from driving us crazy. The more focus is given to the fears we can't quantify the more it becomes unlikely that we will survive.
No matter what we have to endure, remember that someone else has met the same if not a worse fate before and that they walk right beside us. Our team mates survival is key to our own. Instead of becoming overwhelmed with our own problems put that energy into helping others with their's. For every moment we recognize others pain as more important than our own our worries become easier to carry for that time. When others see us so willing to set aside our own heart aches to help them through theirs they will want to do the same for us. In this way of encouraging and helping each other we secure everyone's survival in the present and ensure survival for the future. Seeing and helping others succeed will give us more hope for our own success.
There is no greater fear than fear of the unknown. When faced with crisis situations, the mind can imagine all sorts of horrors especially if we have no provisions in store. One may have read several survival guides, but the book is not the skill. Without practical knowledge of the necessary skill sets there is no way of knowing how to overcome the challenges the books may not have mentioned. The psychology of food in crisis situations says the first 36 hours will be the most difficult without it. Most people haven't experienced what it is like not having at least 1 good meal a day so they will be unaccustomed to the discomfort and may even have dreams about food. This new feeling may cause an increase in the fear reaction but hopefully being armed with this information will help calm those anxieties.
Although people usually experience the discomfort of hunger first, food is not the top priority. Certainly it wouldn't be a comfortable existence but most people can go about a month without eating anything. Our biggest concern isn't even a dry shelter to protect ourselves from the elements, though it is certainly very important. After a positive mental attitude, water and a way to sterilize it is going to be the biggest challenge. This means a source for water, a way to filter it, and a way to boil it. The average person can survive 5-7 days without water so if we are keeping track we have about a week to find clean water and about a month to find a food source. There is plenty of time to get ourselves centered and out of crisis mode before anxiety causes us to make a tragic misstep.
People need rest in crisis situations. A lack of sleep can be antagonizing to the peace of mind we need in order to survive. It is definitely worth mentioning that every team member should be well rested, regardless of what provisions are in store. Do not underestimate the restoring power of sleep and ensure that everyone gets the rest they need before making any demands of ourselves or others. Try to be as proactive as possible. Take outings to practice being in survival situations and use that knowledge learned from reading those books. Adjusting the diet to be comfortable with less on a more natural selection while staying away from processed foods is a great way to start. Take long walks in the woods to practice centering the mind in thoughtful meditation. Fast regularly, not only to prepare for what it will feel like but to also cleanse out the body from all the impurities it has stored from the toxins we ingest. Proper preparation prevents poor performance and ensures everyone will be a great contribution to the team.
No team will ever survive without trust. If every member of that team does not trust every other team member 100% then no set of skills or any amount of provisions is going to keep any peace of mind. Distrust will spread like a cancer until the group either separates or destroys itself. Trust in the team means being able to accomplish together what it was impossible to do alone. Trust in the team can save lives.
Imagine if you were a well-trained F-22 fighter pilot flying in formation with your squadron out on mission over some distant foreign land filled with hostiles. While on your way to dispatch an enemy fuel dump, you hear the frightened voice of your wingman burst from the comm speakers,
"Stroke 3 check your 6, break right Stroke 3, BREAK RIGHT!"
Instinctively your training kicks in and you begin to make the maneuver before he can repeat himself a second time. You pull your aircraft to make a hard right only to notice out of the corner of your eye that the Surface to Air Missile lock indicator on your instrument panel that had only just came on has flashed itself off. Without a doubt, you would have known that your wingman had just saved your life.
The phrase "Check your 6" means to look behind you because there is something you are unaware of that you may be interested in, like a SAM being rocketed straight for you. When we have someone who is looking out for us calling out our blind spots we have a much better chance for survival. You notice the pilot didn't stop to question how old the wingman was, whether by, "Break Right" he meant break left maybe? They didn't call a meeting together to decide whether or not he should break right. They trusted their wingman to know what was best for them. Everyone has blind spots in their lives.
When we are focused on a mission there is a lot we do not see because of our focus. We need to have the courage to be approachable to hear that break right call and heed its warning. We have to take action and trust each other. We have to be brave enough to not only accept the break right call but to give it as well. Build implicit trust with your teammates and in any mission you will be assured the victory.