On the Grid
No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking.
Although survival is undeniably a physical challenge, the mental aspect is often even tougher to overcome. The most obvious mental challenges occur in the heat of the moment — for example, struggling to maintain focus, stay calm, and surmount hopelessness in a desperate situation. But thinking through the difficulties of a survival situation shouldn’t begin when you’re actually facing it. A truly prepared mind will have already considered the situation long before it happens.
Back in Issue 22, I interviewed expedition leader and survival consultant Megan Hine. Megan told me she keeps her mind active by continually thinking through hypothetical scenarios, ranging from practical mountaineering injuries to outlandish alien invasions, and solves problems that she could foresee happening. By doing so, she feels calmer and more prepared when she encounters actual emergencies (a regular occurrence in her line of work).
Each one of us can benefit from taking on this same mentality. When your mind is idle, pick a dangerous or difficult situation, then think through solving associated problems. You might be on a remote trail with a broken leg, carjacked at gunpoint, or trapped at a sporting venue during a terrorist attack. There are limitless situations to ponder, and few are truly unforeseeable.
Although this is an exercise of imagination, remember to be realistic with your solutions — you’re not going to MacGyver together a HAM radio from paper clips and chewing gum, and you’re not going to defeat an entire compound of bad guys singlehandedly like Arnold Schwarzenegger in Commando.
This is what separates daydreaming from practical mental preparation. Make a list of priorities and address them using real techniques you’ve learned, practiced, and continually worked to improve. If you find yourself stuck at a dead end or wondering what to do, that’s a great time to do some research and find additional training to participate in.
The What If? feature in this magazine is one tool that may help you think your way through hypothetical situations, but it’s not the only one we’ve developed. The Survival Scenarios series on OFFGRIDweb.com poses many other scenarios with difficult decisions to consider — see below for more details. You may also want to turn to fictional works, such as novels, movies, TV shows, and even video games for inspiration. All that matters is that you keep thinking, and prepare your mind for problems before you encounter them in real life.
How do mental exercises factor in to your preparedness strategy? What was the last scenario you considered, and how did you work through it? Let me know by emailing me at pmccarthyoff[email protected] You can also follow my latest projects on Instagram at @pmccarthy10.