A lot has been written about the Will to Survive; the positive mental attitude you should maintain in order to overcome adversity and persevere. Putting it into practice isn’t always easy. Let’s face it, how often are you in a survival situation and have to test yourself in this way? I would say….every day.
It doesn’t have to happen in the woods. Survival can be a brutally difficult undertaking in our daily life. We face challenges, setbacks, obstacles, sadness, loneliness, feeling helpless, desperation…all emotions that wilderness survival case studies show are common, even for a short duration episode. But in life, it can go on for days, weeks, or months. These are our tests.
There’s no magic formula or survival kit gizmo that will give you the Will; no secret technique. Everyone will handle it differently. The best way I have found to take on a situation that feels overwhelming is to break it down into pieces. Like the old saying: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. For example, if you say, “I’m lost, I’m hurt, I don’t have any food, it’s going to rain and I didn’t bring a jacket” it can sound like you are in a bad situation. Granted, it’s not a situation you WANT to be in, but that doesn’t matter now. As my buddy likes to say when something goes wrong, “Things just got real, dude.”
Take a breath. Make a list:
1 – I’m Hurt. Deal with your injury, take it from a threat to a secure situation. Even if it’s a temporary fix, it is no longer a wailing siren in your head.
2 – I’m Lost. Well, at the moment it doesn’t matter. You have needs to meet for sustaining life, like warmth and shelter, and knowing where you are isn’t a part of that right now.
3 – I Don’t Have Any Food. Your mind might miss it, and your body might grumble at you, but your health will not suffer if you put that lower on the list of needs. Keep in mind that you can survive for a long time, weeks even, without food.
4 - It’s going to Rain and I Don’t Have a Jacket. Well, what DID you bring? Provisions to build a fire and fashion a shelter? Well great, you can protect yourself from the rain and provide warmth even though you don’t have a jacket. The glass is half-full. So get to it.
Now we have a realistic view of things. Now we are eating it one bite at a time.
The daily challenges in life won’t look like this. But they can feel just as overwhelming and scary. It could be a busy or stressful schedule, a lack of money, or dealing with a health condition. And just like surviving in the wilderness, it has to be done one day at a time. If one day feels too big, go one meal at a time. If that’s too much, and there will be times when it is, then go one hour, or even one minute at a time. Survive one, feel good about that, and go to the next. Repeat. Pretty soon, they start to add up. And you’ve made it through a day. A week. A month.
The very hardest part comes before any of the problem solving or breaking into pieces. That’s the commitment. The time when you tell yourself that you will overcome. It might not happen right away. You might not be sure you can do it. That’s the struggle where you must command yourself to armor up, draw your sword, and press into battle. Once the command is given, you must fight with everything you have, like your life depends on it. Because it does.