Are YOU Wired to Have a Survival Mindset?


They say that survival is 90% mental. Would you agree with that? Or are you one of those that believe your stockpiles and arsenals alone will ensure your survival? Sorry to burst your bubble friends, but gadgets and tools alone will not save you!

It All Begins With The Mind.
The mind truly is a beautiful and mysterious feature of you. It has the capacity to absorb, learn, analyze, reason and store literally millions of pieces of information. How wonderfully made it is! So how does this brain of yours contribute to your survival?

How it All Works
Within a moment of any event the brain instantly begins to analyze the situation. This is the body's natural ‘fight or flight’ instinct. Our nervous system responds in a way that it sounds an alarm. How our body reacts to this alarm depends on a few factors. The first of these factors is our own “biologically inherited aggressive tendencies”.  The second factor is our “prior conditioning and learning”. Last, it depends on our own “attention to all aspects of the situation that facilitate or inhibit aggression” (Berkowitz, 1993).

Sorting This Out
Let’s break this down a bit into a simpler explanation. The first part means that your reaction will depend on your own aggressive behaviors and characteristics. These are those that you inherited, not so much developed. The second is an important part, and one that is promising when it comes to your reaction in survival situations. It is all about the skills you have learned. If you have thoroughly practiced these skills, they have became ingrained in you. So much so that they are almost second nature. The third factor speaks of your own ability to analyze and react to the situation with aggressiveness, if the situation calls for it. Your mind sees the problem and reacts as needed.

The Specifics 
Okay, but how does all this actually tie into survival? Well, for that answer let’s take a look at the following diagram for answers:

fight or flight

As you can see there are two stages of thought. The first being driven by impulse and the other a higher-order cognitive intervention. When a disaster strikes the first emotion people will feel is one of impulse, to either run from the danger or confront it directly. After this initial impulse stage the person will begin to focus and plan their response.

Conditioning Vs. Instinct
We’ve all read about people that have done amazing acts of heroism in terrifying situations. These are accomplished generally through either prior conditioning or natural instinct. One example is of firemen who battle through infernos to rescue a person trapped inside. In this situation it is their conditioning and training that wins out over their natural instinct to run. Another example is of a parent, who alone lifts a vehicle off their child who is trapped beneath. Obviously, this is accomplished out of pure instinct and not through conditioning or training. It is natural. It is primal.  

Part Two to This Discussion Titled: The Survival Persona

   Berkowitz, L. (1993) Aggression: Its causes, consequences, and control. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Author Information:

 Sharon Pannell is a self proclaimed "Prepsteader", both prepper and homesteader. She authors the blog The Trailer Park Homesteader where she teaches others about the importance of disaster preparedness and self-sufficiency. Sharon believes everyday the stuff can hit the fan, it is not one big epic event necessarily and it only takes one set back to create a hardship; so big or small prepare for it all ! Along with her blog, Sharon can also be found managing her other social media sites including her Facebook Page The Trailer Park Homesteader, TTPH Pinterest Page, and TTPH Twitter Page.

Disclaimer: While Sharon does hold a psychology degree, she is not a licensed psychologist. 


  1. A Trailer Park Homesteader, huh? Are you familiar with a tv show called The Trailer Park Boys? Do you steal supermarket shopping carts for beer money? (Just kidding- I like yer blog).

  2. lol Dave, Um carts for money huh?? lol Well that could supplement my preps huh? ONLY kidding....Yes I've heard of the show, thankfully never watched it! Trust me a few of my neighbors entertain us enough around here :)