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Advice to the Would Be Survivalist




Nine out of  ten people we’ve met who expressed an interest in being a survivalist or prepper,  frankly, did not know their own mind.  Like at the poker table, to win you must either be all in, or don’t bother playing.  You can’t get to home plate if you keep one foot on third base.
Often the problem comes in not with someone’s own head, but with the heads of people they are attached to –  wives, children, mothers, fathers, pets, friends, bosses, mild acquaintances. We could recount endlessly the amount of times we met people who were conflicted by others, who vainly labored at – or sought others to labor at – convincing their son, daughter, dog, cat, minster, rabbi, imam, boss, wife, husband that they should join in the bug-out.
Truth is, everyone of the aforementioned entities has a strong vested interest in keeping you in the system. It is like asking a butcher if it’s good to eat meat. If you discuss with people your desire to drop out of society –  those entrenched in society, even those at the lowest echelons of society –  it gives them permission to validate their own choices through you.  And believe me, they will do everything in their power to prove you wrong so that they can validate their own decisions – or because they are too afraid of the changes coming to admit that their comfy life may not be around tomorrow.
And in case you feel a need to give it a try, don’t bother trying to convince anyone else that your decision is right, either.  It won’t work and it will only lead to hard feelings with what once were your friends, relatives and acquaintances.
If you seek Nirvana, you seek to know yourself.  Your “self” is a solitary, singular word. If you are fortunate enough to have a significant other who agrees with you on the need to get to a survivable location and live a neo-primitive lifestyle, you are very lucky. But most personal set backs by those trying to achieve this lifestyle are related to family relations. So we’ll take it on face value that you are reading this  to find out how YOU can achieve this lifestyle.

First and foremost, be honest with yourself and others who may be considering going with you. Countless times we have seen a wife who wanted to do this and hoped by some miracle that didn’t necessarily involve them actually doing anything that her husband would suddenly be on the same page as she was. That is a pipe dream. If you feel strongly a certain way (and in this case that way is to become a neo-primative survivalist) then for God’s sake please discuss it honestly with your spouse.
Innumerable times a wife or husband would schedule a visit (when we were offering parts of our ranch as survival retreats) in the hopes that we would somehow convince their reluctant spouse. Every time we have been asked to do that for someone, we have flatly refused. On the face of it, it’s dishonest. This lifestyle is hard and any problems you had in the outside world, vis a vis, your honesty with each other, will become intensified when you have no outside distractions to mask them. A lack of honesty will turn into outright visceral resentment. This is also true of any other shortcomings your relationship may suffer from. So having a heart-to-heart with whomever you plan to have join you and coming to terms with it is your first step. You notice I am not convincing you that you need to do this. We presume you understand that. Your biggest bug-a-boo is who you bring with you, not what.
In this circumstance, it is all about compromises. If two people really care for each other, then in any discourse there is give and take. Find your happy medium and create an intention that it be successful, then take action to see to it that it is.
To be fair, it is also a consideration towards those relationships that you are better off without. I can’t tell you what they are, but deep down inside of you, you already know. The real question you have to ask yourself is, “Is this relationship worth dying for?” Of course this presupposes that you do not see a good end for this current world manifestation in the near future.
These are questions that will help you know your head and find your center.  It is also a rational decision to stay in the outside world with those you love knowing that you may very well die there.  You will get no greasy-eyed looks from me about it…I salute you. It takes balls to make either decision. To decide to stand with those whom you love is admirable. For them to decide to live with you is also admirable.  But make a decision – one way or the other – and then make that reality.

Consider these in your dialogue with your family and friends;
1. Be honest – about what you feel, what you want, your motivations. I know for some of you this will be nearly surreal because you may have never done it before. But you may be pleasantly surprised that honesty, especially in this case, works best of all.
2. Don’t sensationalize. Many a spouse has taken the liberty to use questionable facts and outright bullshit to get their spouse to agree to a lifestyle change. There is a property to bullshit that needs to be considered. Most people can smell it coming off your lips. So don’t sensationalize. Ask yourself if you would like to make a life-change decision based on bullshit and sensationalized facts. How would you feel when you found out it was bullshit? This can create problems down the road, so don’t create any minefields to convince someone else that you are right. It’s an easy pitfall to avoid.
Decide beforehand who is worth telling and who is not. Far too often people use people who mean little to them or people to whom you mean little as the first ones to approach about your lifestyle-change decision. WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!!!!! Earl Nightingale gives us excellent advice on this topic… (paraphrased) don’t bother discussing your goals with those not intimately involved with those goals. They will shoot you down every time and destroy your ego. Only discuss your goals with those who are intimately involved with them or who you love. So don’t use the guy who sits next to you in the subway or the guy you casually have lunch with to discuss your plans. Make a list of those who would be directly involved with your decision and talk only with them about it.

Saying you have everything ready is a misstatement for most.  The most important place to have ready is your mind.
Some of you say that you can’t wait till you no longer have to wait in line at Starbucks, or fight the traffic to get to your cubical at your job, but all those activities in the pop culture world create neural-synaptic connections that become your current addictions.  Most of our addictions are consumer addictions.  The rituals – vis a vis going to Starbucks or walking around the mall – are deep-seated in our brains through what scientists call a neural-synaptic connection.
These connections become warm, fuzzy, homey feeling.  That’s what they are designed to do.  Nobody really pays $8 for a cup of coffee with cream for the coffee or the cream.  They are paying for the feeling they get when they do it.

If you truly want to be successful in the survivalist lifestyle, you need to begin now breaking old patterns or prepare for the culture shock of your life.
We have seen this undo people more than any other cause – more than money, more than physical hardships, more than lack of ability.  The culture shock is your real enemy.
Most people, when told this, slough it off and usually say something like, “Oh, that won’t be a problem for us, we’re already out of the system,”  when what they mean is, “I only buy organic foods at the supermarket.”   It takes much more than that. Our advice to someone considering the self-sufficient lifestyle is to begin now breaking patterns.
Patterns to Break:
dependency on alcohol, tobacco, illicit drugs, sugar drinks, etc.
watching TV
shopping as entertainment (Wal-mart, supermarkets, etc.)

It’s not only about your head, but also about the heads of those you care for and love.

Now, understand this.  For you to be successful in changing from an urban/suburban lifestyle, you must truly believe that this is the way to go.  You have to believe in yourself, and you have to believe that there will be a future that will be better than the paradigm we have now.  You have to believe it  so deeply that it won’t matter when people tell you you’re crazy – and they will.  Not everyone is meant to understand what is happening in the world today – even some family members will not wish you well in your endeavors.  If you have been given the gift of insight, we encourage you to go with it.

Dan & Sheila are the authors of Surviving Survivalism – How to Avoid Survivalism Culture Shock, available at www.survivingsurvivalism.com.  They are happy to personally answer your survival questions at surviving@lavabit.com .


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  1. I’ve done it. Bugged out to the backwoods. Cost me my family, my six figure job and a lot else but now I’m ready for the crash and feel sorry for those who don’t know how to get by when everything vaporizes in an instant like it did recently with hurricane Sandy. Nice article. Thank you.

    • I have considered doing this, but I always think if they bring in foreign troops, create a horrendous natural catastrophe, or nuke us, what is the point?

  2. This situation is the same in many realms. For example the individual who brings their spouse to a healer that has supported them in a major shift. When asking the spouse, why are you here… when they say,.. Oh, I’m here because my wife/husband wants me here … or… I’m doing this for them… we send them home. It simply doesn’t work. And yes, often when one comes it sometimes means one is awakening and the other… well, often the relationship does not weather the changes…the awakening.
    Too often the spouse will do everything they can to stop the healing/awakening making the facilitator really wrong.. The individual initiating the process has to be aware of this in the beginning and be willing to take the risk of finding out that sometimes it is the spouse (or spouse’s family) that is making them ill in the first place. And yes, it is usually suppressed emotions, where one feels they cannot express themselves to the other honestly or they are afraid to tell the truth about how things have become. Change is inevitable…. change without honest communication is hazardous at best. We must be willing to look at our personal shadow and then take action… our aliveness depends on it.
    Or not.

  3. I must agree with these points, because it has happened to me too, Insight cannot be denied, even if it costs so much more than you thought you were willing to pay. In the end, a person can only follow their instincts and heart, even if you are left standing alone at the end.

  4. I believe in having a plan B, BUT, this article points out why you should have been politically active for years before to stop the problem.

  5. my longtime boyfriend and i just recently started gathering supplies to bunker down in the house and have also started prepping a bug-out bag. we have believed for a long time now that we would need to start sooner or later and the recent status of new jersey because of hurricane sandy swept over us and jump started the situation quite rapidly( we live in central jersey and luckily weren’t horribly affected by the storm).

    i, for a long time, considered talking with my dad about things like this but his mind is no where near the level of open-mindedness i would need him to be on to comprehend the choices i may make in troubling situations. my boyfriend knows that neither of his parents would take him seriously even if he mentioned the slightest preparations, whether they be for an isolated storm or massive evacuation. we only have each other and our combined effort and understanding is really helping us cope with the fact that we may need to drop all other external and emotional ties besides those that may decide our future. at least we have each other though and commend all of you that have tried or at least recognized measures that may need to be taken in the coming days
    peace, love and perseverance

  6. The Best of Both Worlds
    One option is also the ‘foot in both camps’ approach
    Prepare a ‘get out of town’ plan and have it ready to act upon: anytime/anywhere would be optimal
    Hopefully you read the signals & signs before ‘it’ ‘they’ arrive on your door
    Obvious things first…Downsize your commitments (Occupational-Financial/Emotional/Time)
    Have a place in the countryside; either yours or a trusted relative/friend’s (Land and shelter & hopefully a barn or shed) which is set up and prepared for ‘off grid survival’: i.e; Living Accessories: Bedding/Cooking equipment/Food stores/alternative energy setup/building & gardening tools & supplies/seeds/access to water.
    If and when SHTF in its myriad guises…off you go
    Option B being to continue and let it all unfold as it will
    Option C …
    {… ‘Run to the hills’, with all the prepped, semi-prepped & unprepped hordes with their knives & their guns, along the congested highways & by-ways? [Just imagine how many farmers and country folk are going to get a knock at their door from people with their bugout bags appealing to their goodwill!!!]

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