I’ve sat around many campfires, had conversations on forums and answered emails about survival and what constitutes survival, I’ve even talked with people I’ve met on public transport when they find out what I do for a living they always jump onto the survival stuff.
In the Outdoor Revival office, we’re not survivalists, but we like to think we could survive if needed, the close calls we’ve had are just that, at the time you think you’re in trouble but it turns out not so bad. Sometimes though things do turn bad.
Remember that this is opinion we’re dealing with here, I don’t want hate mail from hardcore survivalists, we’re talking general principles.
So, when are you in a survival situation? That’s the million dollar question. The answer to this is a simple one and for many, it’s an individual answer, personal to each of us. When you realize that you’re in trouble, lost or in danger, you’re in a survival situation.
When you do realize or decide you’re in a survival situation your main resource is your brain, it’s more important than anything else you have.
There have been quite a few people that have died with the means to survive readily accessible to them, some even have the means in the rucksack they’ve been carrying and yet they’ve still died because they didn’t put up a tent for protection.
We read things like that and think the person was a bit nuts, it’s obvious that they should have put their tent up, anyone in their right mind would have thought of that.
So, that implies that when you’re in a survival situation you can be in the wrong mind and I think that’s the most dangerous place to be when it comes to you surviving or not.
It’s essential that you get your head engaged in the situation and accept that you’re stuck, when you do this you bring to bear the immense resources of your mental and emotional strength, few people realize how powerful these are without having to leverage them for survival.
For the most part it’s not about what kit you’ve got, how big or sharp your knife is, how many carabiners you’ve got or how big your pack is, it’s about your mental and emotional strength.
When you have clarity of mind you can make good decisions, you need to take a step back and evaluate; there’s an excellent article by Stuart Goring called ‘Survival is all about a good cup of tea.’ that talks about this further.
I’m going to talk just a little about one of the strengths we have as human beings and that’s our tenacity.
Tenacity is the application of being tenacious: not easily pulled apart, tending to adhere or cling, persistent in maintaining, adhering to, or seeking something valued or desired. Continuing despite difficulties, opposition, or discouragement.
Being tenacious is about seeing something through to the end, fighting through, long distance runners are tenacious people, they have to break through the barrier to complete their runs. Most outdoors people have some tenacity, they keep on walking, they carry the pack even though physically they feel done in. It’s a quality that we all have and it’s a quality that can save our lives.
Each year many people die because they give up, the amazing survival stories that we regularly publish are always of people that did not give up, that fought through to the end; they kept themselves alive no matter what, they adapted and persevered and stuck to the main plan, that of surviving.
It’s not about how physically tough you are, or stubborn, it’s not about how much pain you can take or how much you can carry, it’s about carrying on, no matter what.
There’s lots of examples I can think of from my own life and I’m sure we can all think of things that we’ve started and not finished because they’re too hard or we’re bored, heck, look at the millions of people that make New Year resolutions year after year, often the same ones. Part of the problem here is that we’re not in a survival situation and so we just let it go with no real worry.