The Psychology of Survival- Part 4

In the 4th and final part of our series, The Psychology of Survival, we will cover the importance of planning for your survival and how it plays into the psychology of survival.


Survival planning is nothing more than understanding that something could happen and put you in a survival situation, with that in mind, you are taking steps to increase your chances of survival. Another way to look at it is, that survival planning means preparation, and preparation means having survival items and KNOWING HOW TO USE THEM.

For example, we live at about 9800’ in the Rocky Mountains where it was snowing on the 7th of April, each of our vehicles is a 4×4 with mud and snow tires for the crappy road conditions snow brings with it. Each vehicle has a well-stocked “survival kit” that includes food and water if we end up off the road stuck in a snow bank in the middle of “No Where, Colorado”, a well-stocked first aid kit, compact survival bivy sacks that are heat reflective, compact snow shovels, and a host of other gear “Just in case”, every member of our family knows where the gear is, and more importantly, how to use it.  By having a plan (and practicing it), the right gear, and a positive mental outlook you can reduce the psychological impact of finding yourself in a survival/SHTF scenario.


The 6 P’s- “Prior, Planning, Prevents, Piss, Poor, Performance” are essential to remember long before you find yourself in a survival/SHTF situation. Including survival considerations in your daily life will enhance your chances of survival if an emergency occurs. For example, if your job re-quires that you work in a small, enclosed area that limits what you can carry on your person, plan where you can put your survival gear or Bug Out Bag, put it where it will not prevent you from getting out of the area quickly, yet where it is readily accessible if you need it.

By planning and training in the most realistic conditions you can muster you are preparing yourself mentally and physically to deal with the stresses of a survival/SHTF scenario. Your training and planning should reflect the possible situations you may find yourself in. If back country hiking a hundred miles from the nearest phone is your  thing and you know the soonest you could be rescued is a week after you are reported over due, then your training should reflect that reality. The same is true if you’re planning for when TSHTF. If your plan is to walk out of Dodge the 50 miles to a bug out site with your high-speed, low drag ruckrucksack and your pudgy ass can’t walk around the block on a good day wearing only tennis shoes and the clothes on your back then you need to re-evaluate your plan. By training as you’ll “fight” so to speak, you will be able to more easily overcome the psychological challenges you will face.

Another important psychological edge you can give yourself is preparing and carrying a survival kit, that is as important as the considerations mentioned above. Every member of your family should have a survival kit and know how to use what is in it. There many good survival kits on the market that you can buy. There are kits for nearly any conditions you may find yourself in, over-water survival, hot climate (Desert) survival, woodland survival, etc. however if you know what these kits contain, you can change them to better suit your needs or just prepare your own survival kit.

Even the smallest survival kit, if properly prepared, is invaluable when faced with a survival/SHTF situation. Before making your survival kit, however, consider your level of training, the area and environment you will be in, and the equipment you can carry or put in your vehicle.


The environment is the key to the types of items you will need in your survival kit. How much you put in your kit depends on how you will carry the kit. A kit carried on your body will have to be smaller than one carried in a rucksack or vehicle.

In preparing your survival kit, select items you can use for more than one purpose. If you have two items that will serve the same function, pick the one you can use for another function. Do not duplicate items, as this increases your kit’s size and weight.

Your survival kit need not be elaborate. You need only functional items that will meet your needs and a case to hold the items. For the case, you might want to use a Band-Aid box or other small tin, a first aid case, an old ammunition pouch, or another suitable case. Regardless of what you store your survival kit in it should be–

  • Water repellent or waterproof.
  • Easy to carry or attach to your body.
  • Suitable to accept various sized components.
  • Durable.

In your survival kit, you should have–

  • First aid items.
  • Water purification tablets or drops.
  • Fire starting equipment.
  • Signaling items.
  • Food procurement items.
  • Shelter items.

Some examples of these items are–

  • Lighter, metal match, waterproof matches.
  • Snare wire.
  • Signaling mirror.
  • Wrist compass.
  • Fish and snare line.
  • Fishhooks.
  • Candle.
  • Small hand lens.
  • OTC and Prescription medications
  • Water purification tablets.
  • Solar blanket.
  • Surgical blades.
  • Butterfly sutures.
  • Zip Lock Bags for water storage.
  • Chap Stick.
  • Needle and thread.
  • Knife.

Include a weapon only if the laws in your area and the situation so dictates. Read about, get training in, and practice survival techniques under the most realistic conditions you can muster. Consider the environment where you most likely will find yourself, then prepare your survival kit.

Now that you have an understanding of the psychology of survival you can begin to mitigate, through training, the potential for you to succumb to the stresses associated with a survival/SHTF situation.

I look forward to seeing your comments and as always, Train to Survive!


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