by Toby Cowern
Selco and I have had a strong impression for a long time many people in the prepper sphere were almost indulging in a little bit of a fantasy. It wasn’t that they weren’t taking preparedness seriously. They were investing a lot of time and effort, but not necessarily with the belief that they would actually utilize that preparedness. We often say that preparedness is just another form of insurance. That’s how we package it in our beginner presentation to get people in the right headspace.
Health insurance, life insurance, and home insurance are there as reassurance. But you never really think you are going to use it or need it.
Now, however, we’re definitely in the stage where people are active in their preps. People are anticipating using them, whether short-term, midterm, or long term, depending on each individual’s circumstances and location.
As ‘reality bites’, many folks are coming to the realization they may have to actively engage some of their preparedness activities in a meaningful way. This can be a stressful time, so we want to share two tools to help you succeed in your preparedness.
Powerful Tool #1: Mental Visualization
Mental visualization is precisely that. In your mind, you are going through a set specific scenario and achieving success as you do it. As you go through it step by step, at every stage, you achieve success.
For example, you think your power supply or your gas supply is going to go out. You know you are going to rely on off-grid cooking. Allow yourself a couple of minutes or longer to visualize cooking a meal off the grid successfully. Go over unpacking the stove and putting it together. Imagine yourself opening the contents and seeing that everything is okay. You have the can opener, and you haven’t forgotten anything. By the end of the exercise, you are eating a balanced, nutritious meal.
Now, that is a really simple example. But it can be much more complicated. Defensive use of force is another excellent example to visualize mentally.
Let’s say you hear the sound of breaking glass at two in the morning. It seems somebody is breaking in. Begin with that scenario and mentally go over every single step of managing that confrontation successfully. You can envision avoidance, scooting out, ambush, direct confrontation, or whatever your methods are. Decide upon your methods, and step by step, stage by stage, go through the motions.
As far as your brain is concerned, this mental visualization is almost as good as doing it in real life. It is very close in terms of effectiveness in preparing your mind and body for executing that scenario as you need. I used this extensively in my military career, especially the tough physical challenges and the assault courses. Substantially stressful moments usually are a pass/fail scenario. To do this exercise, mentally begin at the start line (after the warmup) and proceed the entire way through the assault course. Successfully and feeling good along the way.
The advantage of mental visualization is that it is a powerful tool you can do anywhere at any time. You don’t need to be in your house with somebody physically red-teaming you and mocking a break-in.
Powerful Tool #2: Walk-Through-Talk-Through
The walk-through-talk-through is a physical action. This exercise is critical if there are more than one of you. If you are in your family unit or your group, you may think you have communicated well your plan or actions to take in the event of an emergency. Until you do a full walk-through-talk-through, you won’t realize the things that may have failed to be communicated or had been miscommunicated or misunderstood. Walk-through-talk-through is everybody, physically, in slow time, going through their role and actions in a specific emergency.
Let’s take an evacuation, for example. During this exercise, there is no stress. It isn’t like a situation where you only have three minutes to leave. What you do here is everyone takes time to walk-through-talk-through what would happen in an evacuation event. In reality, you want to achieve that evacuation in short order: one to four minutes, in a perfect world. But for the walk-through-talk-through, everybody’s going to do it in a super slow time. Ideally, each person will say out loud what they’re doing. So you’re not second-guessing their motivation or their action.
So someone will say, “The evacuation notification came, and I’m going to confirm that I understand that happened. I’ve got it, and I’m now going to walk to my duty station. I am going to go into the basement and open up the safe and collect the following things.” While the person is saying this they are also physically doing the actions. Everybody comes together at the end, ready for evacuation with all the vital things gathered and loaded.
Everyone should be good to go with a list in their mind of any doubts or uncertainties they’ve had. There should also be a debrief from the person in charge saying things like, “I noticed you did this, or you didn’t do this, or we’ve missed this, that, and the other.” Doing so keeps communication clear and helps with understanding the whole process. Ideally, the walk-through-talk-through becomes quicker until you’re ready for a full dress rehearsal. A full dress rehearsal is all actions completed in real-time.
Things are getting serious in a lot of different places now
Using these tools assures you that you are as prepared as possible and helps to manage the stress and anxiety around these issues. And that’s completely understandable. Using the mental visualization and the walk-through-talk-through is massively useful. Even if you don’t have a group, if it’s just you on your own, use these tools to satisfy your mind. Doing this will ensure you that you’ve got this and show you what it looks like and how it works.
Learn more about our preparedness philosophies in our book, SHTF Survival Boot Camp.
Please let us know in the comments below what you think of these tools. What is it you’re working on, and what success are you achieving?
Toby Cowern has an extensive background in the military, emergency services, risk management, and business continuity, combined with applied wilderness and urban survival skills. He discusses personal safety, security, and the crossover of military skills to the average civilian.