After years of dealing with both the prepared and unprepared, I still can’t believe how many people live in denial. “It won’t happen to us!” is the sentence I keep hearing although history showed us that we could never be 100% safe. Denying the possibility of a disaster hitting close to home, it’s a big mistake and here is why.
Last year, the Annual Disaster Statistical review for 2016 was published and it provided some info that should make sane people think about the future. According to the report, our country is the second on the list of countries most frequently hit by natural disaster.
And besides Mother Nature trying to kill us, it seems that we are also doing a good job at killing each other without much effort. In fact, there was a 4.3% rise in violent crime according to the FBI with more than 1.2 million incidents.
That being said, and taking into account that most people still choose to be oblivious, nonchalant, or just plain irrational about emergency preparedness, it should really make us think about where we are heading.
The behavior of many, which is often said to be a normalcy bias, makes the rest of us look like nut-jobs and paranoid people. However, assuming that a disaster won’t happen in our living area, in our lifetime, is pure denial and it can be dangerous behavior. As I found out, denial comes in various forms, and the three types classified by therapists are simple denial, minimization and projection.
I believe it’s important to look at these types of behaviors because it will help us identify “what’s wrong” with the people around us and it will also show us where we are headed.
The behavior of denying a disaster
This is something, we’ve all experienced at some point in our lives and it made us completely deny that something unpleasant is happening. Traumatic and stressful events that people experience and live through will often live them speechless. It’s hard for them to understand that bad things do happen to good people and they can’t believe what’s happening to them.
This behavior is somehow trained within our core, and it’s all due to our lifestyles and the tendency to avoid bad or negative experiences. We live one-sided and we remove or distance ourselves from experiences that could have a negative impact on our lives.
This creates an illusion bubble and we end up believing that a disaster won’t happen to us and that we are somehow in complete control of our lives and experiences. If we don’t want it to happen, it won’t happen to us. However, when the s hits the fan, it blocks our lives completely because we can’t believe it’s us going through such experience, mostly because it’s not something we chose. This is why when a natural disaster hits a certain region, most people will often freeze and aren’t able to process what’s going on around them.
This type of denial leads to inaction and forms the masses we preppers call, the unprepared. Folks are so far removed from the idea of a disaster happening to their families that they believe it’s impossible to occur and they choose not to prepare for it.
Recommended article: Situational Awareness And The Art of Survival
You may laugh when reading this, but I’ve often encountered this type of denial when going hiking or camping with various parties. Sometimes, one or two persons would fell and injure themselves and in order to keep up with the group, they ignored the pain or injuries pushing through. This often leads to something worse and by the time you fix the problem, it would have led to something worse.
In the context of a disaster, this happens when people repress situations they’ve lived through. To exemplify this, think about people that lost everything when a tornado hit their town. After the storm is over, they tell the news how horrible it was and what they almost didn’t make it out alive. This paints a clear picture for every one of the damages a tornado may cause, but a few months after the tornado hit, it becomes just a cool, party story.
The traumatic event fades rather than becoming a real and lasting memory that involves taking action to minimize future risk. Survivors often repress memories in an attempt to protect themselves for the future and this is a tempting behavior for most people. Few of them actually want to deal with the aftermath and the actions needed to protect themselves if such an event would come back into their lives.
This is the type of behavior that is familiar to most of us and even some preppers know it all too well. They admit an unpleasant fact and the seriousness of it and the problems that may occur even after it’s all over, but they go down the wrong path. They choose to not take responsibility for it thinking they will figure something out when it happens again or they chose to blame someone else for it (government, foreign nations, divine entities, etc.).
Last year, when hurricanes and monster storms hit our country, many residents of the affected areas were warned to leave their homes to increase their chances of survival. However, rather than moving to safety, many of them choose to stay. They were saying things like “It won’t be that bad” or “I’ll just ride it out” without having any actual basis to sustain those statements. Then the storm comes and those areas are decimated and you see the same people on the news, blaming the government for the slow response and lack of proper medical care, food and shelter.
This is the state of denial where those people acknowledge the seriousness of the situation, but they still refuse to take action, ending up blaming others for their “misfortune”. In the prepping world, we see this type of denial manifesting in different ways. Here are the situations you probably encountered as well:
A lot of my prepper friends invest a lot of money (and I mean “A LOT”) in their prepping plans, mostly in stockpiling supplies. That being said, when they have a full pantry, warehouse or armory, they don’t plan ahead or they tend to procrastinate when it comes to developing skills or testing drills. They don’t adjust their priorities and they don’t shift their attention to what’s next. When things go bad, they flounder in despair about putting all their eggs in one basket.
Prepping is an overwhelming lifestyle if I want to call it so and people won’t take action because it’s just too much for them. They have a hard time figuring out things and they don’t want to deal with what all implies. That’s why when things go south, your relatives will blame you for not helping them out while your neighbors will blame the government for not providing anything in return although they paid their taxes.
Related article: Can I Depend On The Government During Disasters?
People give up prepping because they want to be accepted by the society and they don’t want to be seen as strange individuals or paranoid ones. If the majority of our society feels there’s no concern about the future, most people don’t have the guts to state their own beliefs. My Army Sergeant used to say that there is a pack mentality that kills the many and that can be seen all around us when the brown stuff hits the fan.
Do you want me to give you a simple example? When a storm hits your town, what flies off the shelf? Isn’t it milk and bread that are often sold out? And this is because everybody buys that, regardless if there are food items, like canned goods, that have a much better value. The pack mentality will make people fight over items that appear most desirable (including booze and cigarettes) despite of their actual value during a disaster.
What can you do to avoid this pitfall?
The failure to prepare can be described as the result of denial behaviors, and it can happen to all of us. I agree that it’s ok to be skeptical about the end of the world, but to deny the possibility of a disaster hitting your area is foolish and a real danger for those around you. You don’t need to become an expert prepper, but you do need a slight change of mindset if you want to have a fighting chance. Here is what I’m telling people when talking about preparedness and how to fight an inevitable storm:
Accept the idea of having the stuff needed for survival.
When people think about survival and prepping, they think of armor-plated vehicles, bunkers and an armory that could decimate an entire neighborhood. That might be useful for certain scenarios, but you better start slow, with some bare essentials.
Gest some stuff in and around your house that could be useful to survive a disaster, basics like food, water, shelter and fuel. These form a general foundation and it’s better to have it and not need it rather than running after it.
Accept the fact that disasters are not just movie scripts.
People all around the world have learned that disasters are inevitable, only after it hit close to home. Do you think, it won’t happen to you? Why is that? Are you special or is someone having your back providing you with early warnings and what not? Snap out of it and turn on the new, you’ll see that disasters are happening everywhere. It may not be today or tomorrow, but something will happen that will certainly ruin your day or worse.
Accepting this truth is a big step in becoming prepared. Just researching about disaster will help you face the shock of it actually happening and it can improve your response time and make it a lot easier to overcome the aftermath.
Study the area you live in.
When you buy a new house, I bet you do a lot of research about the neighborhood, schools, entertainment and shopping centers and what not. Why not do the same about your region or state? Nowadays, with all the information available online, it’s a piece of cake to figure why Tornado Alley is called so, before buying property there.
I recommend reading this article about studying your region as it will help you understand why it’s important to do so before disaster strikes.
Don’t get overwhelmed or you will fail.
Going overboard with all of it is why people fail at prepping and why they get burned out before achieving something. Nothing happens overnight and you should take things slowly, figure out what you need to prepare for, what you have and what you are lacking and stick to a plan you make, before going out shopping for gear and what not.
Biting off more than you can chew leads to failure and garage sales that will make other people happy and prepared. Start slowly and find room in your budget to gradually accumulate the things you need to survive a disaster.
A last word
I strongly believe that the digital era we live in is slowly killing us by making our physical reality becoming much less pressing. Think about our ancestors or the first pioneers and you will understand that we no longer experience the danger of fear the same way they did. If we don’t like our environment we remove ourselves from it rather than trying to conquer or change it, end we are always looking for safe places.
We chose not to act because we believe that a disaster won’t happen to us and that there will always be someone out there looking out for us. Rather than living in denial, we should accept it for what it is and work towards challenging it. Rather than being scared of labels, be as ready as you can with the resources you have and the knowledge you can acquire.