Sunday, January 20, 2013

Survival of the Most Adaptable

Daisy Luther, Contributor
Activist Post

Forget survival of the strongest, the meanest, the fastest, the toughest, the fittest or the smartest.

All of those are fine qualities in a prepper but there is one key to survival in nearly any situation that trumps all of the above. That key is adaptability.

Adaptability: The ability to change to fit changed circumstances.

The ability to assess a situation and immediately change gears is a vital skill. It doesn’t come naturally for everybody. Like any skill, it takes practice. You must be able to toss Plan A out the window without a regretful look back and plunge immediately and wholeheartedly into Plan B, C, or beyond. You must possess the ability to change your paradigm without hesitation. You can’t cling to the way you want things to be, or the way they should be – you must instantly adapt to the way things are.

Everyone remembers the story about the soccer team whose plane went down in the Andes Mountains. The handful of survivors had no option but to consume the bodies of their teammates. Those who refused to adapt to that grim reality perished of starvation.

Here are some less horrific examples where adaptability might be key.
  • You’re out for a day hike with your family when an unexpected storm blows up. This isn’t something you can control – you can only control your response to it. You must immediately accept that the storm is occurring and that you are under-supplied. You must look to your surroundings to create shelter from the elements, and possibly find drinking water and food.
  • Your home is well-stocked for any event…except suddenly your home is in the path of a raging wildfire. You can’t cling to the fact that your preps are in your home. Your survival reality has changed instantly and you must evacuate with your family and find a new way to be fed and sheltered.
  • Your environment has suddenly changed. Maybe it’s global warming, maybe it’s global cooling or maybe somehow the earth was rocked on its axis. Suddenly your familiar climate is gone. You now have to learn to keep your body at the appropriate temperature and keep yourself fed in a totally different way.
  • The power is gone. Permanently. Your heat no longer comes from a thermostat dial, your food can no longer be refrigerated in the convenient rectangle in your kitchen and even a light to read by now requires a different outlook. Some people will spend precious time mourning what is gone instead of planning their course of action with what is left.
So, back to the skill of adaptation – it can really be broken down into steps, no matter what the crisis may be. Some things require immediate action, so you have to get through the steps rapidly, while other situations allow you a little bit of thinking time.

Adaptability is not imitation. It means power of resistance and assimilation. - Mahatma Gandhi

Accept what is.

You have to accept what is. In the event of a disaster, natural or otherwise, many people suffer some cognitive dissonance. Their psyches are simply unable to assess the reality of the situation and accept that it’s actually happening. Sadly, this renders them pretty much useless in a crisis situation.

Cognitive dissonance is defined as…
the feeling of discomfort when simultaneously holding two or more conflicting cognitions: ideas, beliefs, values or emotional reactions…Dissonance is aroused when people are confronted with information that is inconsistent with their beliefs. If the dissonance is not reduced by changing one’s belief, the dissonance can result in restoring consonance through misperception, rejection or refutation of the information, seeking support from others who share the beliefs, and attempting to persuade others.
Sadly, we are surrounded by cognitive dissonance, by people who stubbornly hang on to the way things were yesterday and refuse to adjust to the reality of today. Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt, as the saying goes. Some examples might be:
  • The person who lost his job but continues to spend money frivolously, using a credit card to make up for the lost income.
  • A person in the path of a horrible natural disaster who refuses to believe it’s actually going to hit their home (think those who refused to evacuate when Hurricane Sandy was headed their way).
  • A person who refuses to accept the fact that the debt-fueled lifestyle of the average North American is about to grind to a horrible halt.
  • A person who stubbornly clings to the belief that groups like the national governments, NATO and the United Nations are actually there for the benefit of society rather than the benefit of the wealthy elite.
In a crisis situation, these people can be dangerous to be around. A lack of acceptance of the current reality can cause fatal mistakes, endangering not only the individual, but those included in their group.

When a bad thing happens, the absolute first step is accepting that it’s happening. Believe that the thugs are really at your door, believe that the power is out and it’s going to get cold fast, believe that the economy is making its last gasping breath. Accept what your senses are telling you and move on to the next step.

Take action.

The next step is to take action and do so immediately. In a chaotic situation, the first actions you take can set the course for the entire event. So, if there are gang-bangers kicking in your door, tell the kids to hide and grab your weapon. If a tornado is bearing down, go to the basement. If you’ve lost your job, stop all unnecessary expenditures and hunker down. If the power has gone out in the middle of a snowstorm, curtain off one room and concentrate your heating efforts there. If your instinct tells you it’s time to bug out, grab your bag, the kids, the dog, and get the heck out of dodge.

In cases like this, it helps, of course, if you have prepared for these events ahead of time. Clearly, no one knows exactly what the future holds, but your basic preparations will stand you in good stead in all of these scenarios.

Adjust to the new reality.

Finally, once the adrenaline wears off, you may be left with a new type of reality. Even the most adaptable person can find this part difficult. It’s one thing to take action when the blood is pounding in your ears and fear is speeding you along. It’s quite different to live a new life in the day to day. Depression and unhappiness can set in when you are removed from beloved and comfortable surroundings. This is the hardest step for many people. If you’ve planned ahead and prepped your family but then for some reason, like a fire or natural disaster, those preparations are gone, then you may feel like it was all for nothing.

It couldn’t be further from the truth, though. As Hubert H. Humphrey Jr. famously said, “It is not what they take away from you that counts. It’s what you do with what you have left.” If you had to start over, right this instant, think of all the things you’ve learned during the time you’ve been awake and aware. You have learned to prioritize for the future instead of satisfying the whims of the here and now. You may have learned skills like gardening, personal defense, food preservation, or chopping firewood.

Your MIND is the number one tool to help you adjust to the new reality, whatever that reality may be. Most of all, you’ve learned how to think. No fire can take away the knowledge you’ve acquired. No thieves can steal your learned skills. No natural disaster can undo the mental preparedness that you have built up.

How can we become more adaptable?

If you’re reading this article you are probably more than halfway there! It’s the nature of a prepper to think about the things that might go wrong. That is how we become better prepared for a variety of events, natural and otherwise.

Run scenarios with your loved ones. This is one case in which television can actually be valuable. Some programs and movies can serve as a teaching tool. For example, I watched an older episode of Criminal Minds with my daughter, in which a child her age was approached by a nice looking man and tricked into going into a secluded area, where she was then kidnapped. We watched the scene in its entirety, then we backed up and replayed it bit by bit, discussing the warning signs and what the girl could have done differently. We discussed ways that something similar could happen here in our hometown and ways to respond to similar threats. When terrible things happen in the world, discuss them and determine a few courses of action that could be taken to avoid becoming a victim.

Keep up with current events. Notice trends in the economy, crime and government. Pay attention to things happening in other countries too – what happened in Greece a few years ago is happening in the United States now. Learn from their collapse to predict what might happen during ours, and then prepare accordingly.

Think about your preps critically. Have you ever realized that a preparation you’ve made isn’t all it was cracked up to be? I recently discovered that some food I’d stored away was loaded with bugs (gross!!!!!!!) Luckily, I didn’t lose a great deal of food and I learned a valuable lesson about the way I had been storing that particular item. If you live in an earthquake-prone area, are your jars of home-canned food secured against breakage? Do you have “enough” ammo and the means to make more? Do you have back-ups for your primary garden tools? Extra handles and blades? Sometimes adaptability takes a little advance preparation.

Even if you don’t agree with all the conclusions of Charles Darwin, there is much to be learned from his studies of nature. Although he was talking about reproductive evolution in his writings, his premise rings true for those of us who intend to survive challenges, both mundane and extraordinary. You don’t have to be the strongest, smartest, fastest or toughest. You have to be the most flexible. Whatever comes your way, take it and roll with it.

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”

Daisy Luther is a freelance writer and editor. Her website, The Organic Prepper, where this article first appeared, offers information on healthy prepping, including premium nutritional choices, general wellness and non-tech solutions. You can follow Daisy on Facebook and Twitter, and you can email her at


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Anonymous said...

I feel that religion also needs to be included in examples when writing about cognitive dissonance.

A big part of being able to adapt is being able to constantly evaluate and re-evaluate the beliefs you hold, in a critical way. A person needs to understand the underlying reasons for holding any particular belief; in order to accurately assess whether they make sense at any time now or in the future.

Religions prefer to lead people by blind obedience that they call 'faith'. Followers are indoctrinated to believe that their particular church's 'laws' are absolute and should be obeyed without question as to their morality.

This is contrary to every other area of learning. Humans learn through arriving at conclusions about patterns observed in nature. This concept has been refined over time into what we now call 'the scientific method'. This methodology is the only reason we have the many advanced tools today that make our lives better.

The only constant in the universe is change. Religions have, historically, opposed change and worked actively to prevent it. This is contrary to what has been observed as the actual 'nature' of the universe.

For these reasons, religion should be abandoned as well in order to prevent 'cognitive dissonance'.

Brendan R

Dave Starbuck said...

I just wanted to mention a practice that is not just a survival technique but its also something that can be used every day to keep you in the absolute best of health and cure just about anything that can go wrong with you... and that is Urine Therapy, the drinking of your own urine.

By mentioning the story of the soccer team whose plane went down in the Andes, you propagate the myth that you will necessarily starve (or be forced to do something unspeakable) if there's no food. I recently completed a 30 Day Urine Fast (That is no food or water just urine for 30 days) and not only did I survive but I had plenty of energy and cured various problems that I'd forgotten I had.
As a result, I am convinced that I could live on urine alone indefinitely.

Anonymous said...

This article is PURE Bull Shit!!!

It is a Psychiatric / Psychological, Druggo, "Effect" viewpoint. Period!

It follows along the old, "It's better to be 'Red' than 'Dead'" debate.

The whole purpose in being a "Prepper" is to "Be Preppared" for any and all eventualities. You need to learn to adapt your environment to your wishes, not adapt yourself to the environment. This IS what prepping is all about.

If the fire is coming your way, have the tools necessary to cut down the trees between you and the Fire so it doesn't hit you, or so that it goes around you. If the wind comes up, be prepared by using that tent you keep stored in your tool box. The power is gone, fire up that prepper generator. You run out of food, use that new animal trap you bought last year.

This article is ALL about what the Government is ALL about = the government is everything, the individual is nothing.

This is the biggest pile of crap I've ever seen "Activist Post" post. This Daisy Luther must be a Government Plant. It's all I can say.





Anonymous said...


I suspect that you're a NWO Shill as well as this author Daisy herself.

It is the destruction of Religion and the Morals and Ethics taught by ALL Religions by the NWO Satanists / Atheists through the use of fowarding the heinous agendas of Psychiatry and their Psychotropic Drugging of America, that is the problem here.

Your comments are just more Daisy Luther BS. You might as well say, "Adapt to what the US Government is doing, and just give up your guns".




Anonymous said...

With respect to most things I read on this site and others, I prefer to take what is useful and discard the rest.

Catastrophic events can bring change in ways that have nothing to do with a power grid meltdown, a foreign invasion, a currency collapse, a hurricane, a wildfire, climate change, or an earthquake.

Some factors cannot be modified or adapted to suit personal desires or needs. Circumstances can force us to adapt to a "new normal" and roll with the changes. Talk to anybody who lived through the first Great Depression, or who has lost a spouse to catastrophic illness, or whose cherished & carefully nurtured career has been cut short due to an economic downturn.

I think it would be a good idea for folks to do some personal risk assessment, i.e., think about what situations are more likely to occur in their current locations and situations, and take into account all relevant factors in their lives, identifying areas of vulnerability which can be strengtened through improved preparation.

Hide Behind said...

A way to add dpice to ones survival skills and also to improve ones adaptability is spur of the moment minimalist camping
I fo not recomend this gor gamilys woth very young children and unprepared vhildren undrr 9 Years of age.
It is eady to do in my home dtate WA.and ORE and Idaho as there are bast ateas of many fiffering terrains open to public entry that are not dtate city orfed managed just land public can enter at will.

Everyones vehicle should contain an catastrophic emergency pack, water food shelter etc,you know the stuff.
Should be 3 day per family member food water. But object is only take I day food and water per individual and your trip must be at least 3 days from when you leave in middle of might until you reyurn to vehicle on eve 3rd day.
We called it campaign camping.
Have a general idea of area in 20 mie radius by all members. LOOK UP weather, elevations ( topography) efible goods plants bugs reptiles and animals that maybe in area.
THENmidfle of night wake everyone up and say 15 minutes anf damn well mean it.Drive general area knowing safe place to park hell even a campground within 4 or5 miles jumping off point.
walk inland gor a good 4 or More cross country miles or you find a perfect or not so perfect spot to survive off the land for at least three days.
Did this a few times and then family soon beganpresding gor more suvh trips to various "no mans lands.
NOT for squeamish eaters or those who tjink all animals are humans in disguise

IN first excursions took only a ruger semi 22 pistol that al cold hit 8" at 30 feet but after once chaseing young bear from camp we upped the artillary a bit.
You quickly learn how to get water and build suitable shelters.
Here is the thing that is most important, family bonding and reliance on all family members judgements.and knowing that your child.wife and family dog would still survive and vope with any naturl or man made catastrophe wether you are there or not.
And when your bones are getting brittle or flabby muscles. are there you have memories, good memories.
And oh ya one more thing, it is an inexppensive way to spend a weekend while never quite knowing what's on next meals menu.

Unwillingly Urban Guy said...

Hide Behind...

I think your keyboard has undergone something of a catastrophe itself.

Fortunately I was able to adapt to it.

Interesting comment; I just wish I could try out minimalist camping for myself.

Average Joe American said...

Hey, "Unwillingly Urban Guy": I've mentioned "Hide Behind's" keyboard issues in the past, to no avail (is his/her cat walking on the computer keys in the middle of the night?), but the message is usually interesting once deciphered, as you've noted.

As for minimalist camping, perhaps you might try it out in an urban environment, which you just may find yourself forced to do some day soon, for real. Even those of us occasionally required to travel into town for supplies might, one day find ourselves trapped. (Don't leave your sanctuary without a sidearm at least, a full canteen, and a pocketful of jerky and Granola bars).

I've actually been an "unwilling urban minimalist," in my oddly checkered past, it sucked. You see them, increasingly, on the streets of most cities and towns, day after day...often the same people, obviously it's possible to survive. One might even consider it a form of prepping for the future.

If the SHTF, who do you think is better prepared for urban survival (or actually getting out of a modern city in one piece), you? Or the guy or gal sleeping in a refrigerator box under an overpass. They endure cold, hunger, thirst, and constant physical danger, yet they manage sufficient shelter, potable water, sustenance, and personal protection. It ain't the life of Riley, but I'd put my money on their survival over that of nearly anyone I've met at Albersons, Walmart, or the local sporting goods store any day of the apocalypse.

After the Fall (by whatever catastrophe) the rebuilding of community will require more than just so-called "survivors" (which may include stock analysts who've cowered in their safe-rooms and fallout shelters till the smell overwhelmed them, forcing them to emerge), it will require survivor TYPES, as Daisy points out in this excellent piece. Not just a few lucky "alivers," but actual survivors.

Mindset and skillset will win out over (and far more often than) anything you can stuff in a backpack and lug around with you till it all runs out, wears out, or you are relieved of it by someone craftier or more savage than you.

You know who I would least like to partner up with? Other commenters to this insightful article who clearly didn't get it. "Doc," for example, from whom never is heard an encouraging word.

Some may choose Ms. Luther's articles as a springboard for introducing her readers to the esoterics of urine therapy, or to denounce organized religion (without mentioning the oft-proven value of spiritual belief in life-and-death survival situations), but my suspicion is that she may be hitting too close to home for some who are psychologically unready to survive outside their comfort zone. They're trying to swim "in denial" (as she says) and don't have (forgot to buy) the fins for it.

Or those, of course, who are paid trolls assigned the task of denigrating Activist Post, its writers, and their subscribers, in hopes of reducing new readership.

Personally, I tell people, if you could receive only one blog in your email, yet still wanted to keep your thumb on the pulse of what's REALLY going down in the world: subscribe to the Activist Post, and READ THE COMMENTS. For better or for worse, you'll know what's going on out there.

And I'm no shill (I'm retired and would be happy to receive pulp rates [penny-a-word or whatever] for my observations, but who'd pay me for it?) Frankly I'd love to be a paid shill, if I could say what I perceive to be true.

Anyway, carry on, Daisy Luther. The ones who won't listen won't survive (we're better off without them), the ones who do just may make a difference, here and there, as I think you are making a difference.

Here and there.

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