There are only two things that cause people to begin prepping: fear and coincidence.
Fear, of course, is the big motivator and is why one would consciously get into prepping. We protect ourselves for fear of something bad happening in the future. Coincidence is reserved for the accidentally prepared—those who weren’t consciously readying themselves but happened to have what they needed anyway.
People mistake fear as a good reason to prep, and most importantly, as the only reason. There are several reasons, however, that fear is an awful companion on the journey to preparedness and self-sufficiency.
In this article, I’m going to give you some food for thought. Maybe fear won’t be your reason for prepping. In fact, you probably you want to avoid it at all costs.
What About Practicality?
We’ll take a quick detour to address what many of you are probably thinking. Lots of preppers don’t feel afraid. Isn’t practicality another reason? Briefly, no.
Prepping for practical purposes occurs when times have already gotten tough. Hence, it is not so much prepping as it is surviving. When there are shortages at the store, you beef up your garden. When you can’t find a part you need, you jury rig it. That’s practicality.
Prepping is only due to practicality when what you are prepping for has begun to happen. If nothing bad has happened or will happen, prepping is highly impractical. It is only useful (read: practical) if something bad happens. Since there’s a small likelihood disaster will occur and the consequences are severe, it is smart to prep, but not practical.
Practicality doesn’t drive us to prepare for what hasn’t happened. Fear does.
If you are completely prepared, you don’t need to feel afraid anymore. But whether or not you feel afraid, fear is the underlying reason. If you didn’t fear something bad would happen, you’d go along taking the easiest path in life, assuming things will stay the same or improve.
So the answer is that if it’s practical, it’s not prepping; it’s surviving. Fear may actually be good in a survival scenario, sharpening your senses and keeping you safe in the short-term. Fear while you are prepping in the long term and day-to-day is counterproductive.
What Does Fear Do?
Well, it certainly makes for an unpleasant time.
One doesn’t have to stretch the imagination to see the disadvantages of living in fear. First, you could try to avoid the full impact of the fear with a subconscious denial. Denial would make you avoid certain aspects of prepping—the less fun and exciting parts maybe.
If you accept the fear, however, you can freeze up and not get anywhere on actually increasing your future safety. You may also make hasty, thoughtless decisions like sinking your finances way further into prepping than you would ever end up needing. (We have some tips on low-budget and slow-and-steady prepping, by the way.)
Even if you keep your head without denying the horrors disaster might bring, you aren’t going to escape the toll it takes on your body to have a chronic stressor frequently or constantly pushing you into fight-or-flight. That stress is one of the worst things for your health. It can make you susceptible to everything from getting a cold to government propaganda.
How Does Fear Keep People from Prepping?
I mentioned that fear makes people freeze up. In fact, a big reason not to prep out of fear (or encourage anyone else to do so) is that fear can actually keep you from preparing for the worst.
Besides impracticality, a major reason people give for rejecting prepping is that they don’t want to live in fear. Indeed, this was why I was slow to understand the motivation to prep, and I’m well aware of the possible dangers of the future.
Some people aren’t aware, however. They deny that life will ever change, and seem to intentionally pull the wool over their own eyes. While frustrating to those who have embraced the possibility (or probability) of danger, there is a good reason for this. They don’t want to live in fear.
If you accept some danger, you have to, at least in a subconscious way, accept all of it. If you accept a world in which something could go wrong or something could be out of your control… then you have have to admit that there is also the chance that everything could go wrong, that everything could be out of your control. This opens you up to a surreal level of fear as compared to what you had before. The wish to remain oblivious is understandable, if not commendable.
In this way, even people who acknowledge that there may be danger may not want to start prepping because acting on it makes their acknowledgment real, and they may need to do more than keep a few flashlights in the kitchen drawer for a power outage.
Doesn’t Prepping Remove Fear?
Preppers try to get around the fear they have accepted by encompassing all of these possibilities into their sphere of control. If you are 100% prepared for the worst, you will be set no matter what, right?
You probably guessed where I’m going with this.
Accepting fear freezes you up, but controlling fear isn’t the solution. It means you are now relying on yourself instead of on no one, but you yourself (or even your community) can only have so many skills, know so many tricks, and provide for so many people.
You will never be prepared for every eventuality, though you maybe be prepared for even 95% of them. That notion drives preppers, through fear, to keep striving to know, have, or practice everything. It is also another reason people don’t get into prepping. It’s too much trouble if they want to have complete control. Yet they know the 5% will always exist. It can seem as hopeless as it would if they didn’t spend all that time, effort, and money and just relied on the chance that a Life Altering Event just wouldn’t happen.
Having complete control over every eventuality in you life is not possible and is not the goal. On top of that, it causes fear.
I’m not saying it isn’t a good idea to have be aware of danger and how to react. I’m not saying a prepared community won’t be resilient enough to weather almost any storm. But I am saying that having that won’t get rid of fear.
An Alternative: Prepping by Coincidence
In the end, your relationship with fear is between you and your God. The belief system governing that belongs in the spiritual and is for you to figure out. But I offer prepping by coincidence as a physical manifestation of a belief that you should live without fear and still be prepared and self-sufficient. It is certainly the more pleasant method.
Now what do I mean by coincidence? I mean those that have a garden and can their food, then find life plenty tolerable when the grocery store shelves are empty. I mean people with hobbies in wild foraging or hunting who, without expecting to get lost in the woods in the least, find themselves well-fed despite the worst happening.
A lot of health nuts and hippies end up being accidental preppers in this way. Fishers, veterans, park rangers, you name it. Anyone who incidentally incorporates survival skills into their daily life becomes a prepper to some degree. And none of them are doing it out of fear. Oftentimes, they are enjoying it.
How to Build Coincidental Prepping Into Your Life
Obviously, not all of your preparedness can be achieved by picking up a hundred hobbies and still having a career job. You don’t even have to embrace being an outdoorsman if that’s not your thing. But there is a happy medium. Splitting the knowledge and lifestyle change between several family or community members is crucial. It means not everyone has to know everything.
The other thing is to slowly shift your life, always looking for what will be the next interesting thing, what will improve your life, health, and habits. Then you move that way without putting too much of the stress of a ticking time bomb on yourself.
Do what you can. Don’t be too hard on yourself, but always look toward what you can be improving, what you can learn next. Things will fall into place one by one.
This slow and steady method is what will build a truly reliable foundation. Consistent practice does much more than a single intensive weekend course for learning skills. And it’s a lot less stressful. Slowly acquiring and incorporating the tools you may need into your usual activities will be a lot more useful than cracking open a premade kit for the first time when a disaster hits.
You will have to find your own reasons for prepping by coincidence. I can’t tell you where your philosophies are going to come from, but I would like to say that it is worth considering. You will still be prepared, but you won’t be driven and controlled by fear.
In a way, this is being even better prepared for disaster. You will be accustomed to living out some of the things you will be forced to do when SHTF and doing them without fear. It is much easier to keep from freezing up and to go about what you will need to with efficiency when you are accustomed to doing it without fear even on your mind.
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