Appreciating Natural Reactions to Life or Death Situations

Appreciating Natural Reactions to Life or Death Situations

The human mind, in most cases, reacts in certain ways when we are faced with life or death situations.  Some of these reactions are helpful as they prevent us from doing things that will be deadly.  On the other hand, they can inhibit us from doing the right thing, which can lead to a grim outcome as well.


Fear is probably the most innate trait that we have, and it is primarily designed to prevent us from harm.  While many fears are unjustified, stem from being uncertain about something or are temporary barriers, it serves as our most fundamental survival mechanism.  However, it is also important to take an honest look at how fear keeps us from doing the right thing as well.  We need to address these areas and learn how to work through them in order to grow, mature and get stronger as individuals as well as survivalists.  Most importantly, we need to know the distinction between healthy and unhealthy fear in order to make good and responsible choices.


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Anxiety plays off of fear to a certain degree, but it has it’s own unique function in our brains as well.  Anxiety motivates us to act on things instead of just accepting them.  Anxiety, as we all know can be good or bad as it either inhibits or encourages our decision making processes.  Learning how to better understand the causes of our anxiety helps us to keep a clear head, control fear and take control of situations.  We develop this ability through experience, knowledge or both.  However, it is essential that we learn how to use anxiety to our advantage instead of being ruled by worry and uncertainty.

Coping With Anger and Frustration

We tend to unravel when things don’t go our way.  For some, the littlest things like traffic jams set them off the most.  Others take a while and a lot of abuse before they explode and lose their cool.  Most of us fall in the middle of the spectrum.  However, in a survival situation, it is very easy to become angry at what happened and how the incident put you in the predicament that you are facing.

Frustration comes from not being able to accomplish our goals.  May be our tricks don’t work, or our fixes do not produce results.  Maybe we try over and over again to succeed at something and get overwhelmed with rage as we feel as though we are not able to take control of the situation.  It is very important to learn how to control these inevitable feelings that can cloud our judgment and cause us to react poorly.


There are times when people quickly settle into a state of despair, despondency or malaise.  Sometimes these things creep in slowly after a period of sustained disappointment.  Sometimes it hits once someone becomes aware of the gravity of a particular situation.  No matter the cause of depression, it is a killer during a survival situation.

It promotes a cycle of negative thinking along with a deeper and more sustained sense of hopelessness.  It zaps us of our energy and is incredibly deceptive.  We’re not talking about clinically-diagnosed depression here, rather depression that stems from being in a what is perceived to be no-win situation.  It can sneak up on anyone, and it needs to be dealt with as quickly as possible by straining to work through anything that can be productive or useful.  This will help to orient the brain towards positive thinking and having a sense of accomplishment.


Survival guilt is something that is common and well-known.  Feeling bad for living while others have died can ruin us psychologically and take years to overcome.  It is important to try not to compare your life to the death of someone else, and do what you can to put such notions out of your head.  This is easier said than done for someone who has not experienced the power of guilt first-hand, but it is something that be particularly destructive in a survival situation.

Guilt for making a mistake that caused problems, led to an unnecessary risk or caused harm to someone else can be equally-paralyzing.  These are difficult things to work through, especially during periods of stress that are associated with survival situations. However, guilt is something that needs to be dealt with, accepted and somehow contained in order weather storms and move ahead.

Only you can figure out how to deal with these and other feelings and emotions that are part and parcel of enduring survival situations.  The important thing is to be mindful of the reality that you may be influenced by thoughts and emotions that are not rational or helpful.

Be prepared to face a lot of emotional challenges along with everything else that you are planning on encountering.  The more cognizant you are of these psychological responses will help you to keep your cool and stay focused on the objective ahead which is essentially getting out alive.

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