Psychology of Survival and Spiritual Considerations

Psychology of Survival and Spiritual Considerations

Andrew’s Note:  Today’s survival lesson is an extract from Appendix A of FM 21-76-1, the U.S. Army manual on Survival, Evasion & Recovery June 1999, Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited.  This appendix provides information on the psychology of survival and includes spiritual considerations.  While the manual was written for military situations there are many takeaways for the preparedness minded as well. 

I find the section on spiritual considerations especially helpful.  Your experiences may not reflect mine, but long before I became a man of faith I noticed how strong and resilient those I knew who had a strong faith were.  It’s also interesting to note that with the current movement afoot to remove God from the ranks of the military…including calls to appoint atheist chaplains for our servicemembers…this is from a military field manual.

Psychology of SurvivalCognitive Preparedness

  • Preparation
    • Know your capabilities and limitations.
    • Keep a positive attitude.
    • Develop a realistic plan.
    • Anticipate fears.
    • Combat psychological stress by—
      • Recognizing and anticipating existing stressors (injury, death, fatigue, illness, environment, hunger, isolation).
      • Attributing normal reactions to existing stressors (fear, anxiety, guilt, boredom, depression, anger).
      • Identifying signals of distress created by stressors (indecision, withdrawal, forgetfulness, carelessness, and propensity to make mistakes).
  • Strengthen your will to survive with—
  • Group dynamics of survival include—
    • Leadership, good organization, and cohesiveness promote high morale:
      • Preventing panic.
      • Creating strength and trust in one another.
      • Favoring persistency in overcoming failure.
      • Facilitating formulation of group goals.
  • Taking care of your buddy.
  • Working as a team.
  • Reassuring and encouraging each other.
  • Influencing factors are—
    • Enforcing the chain of command.
    • Organizing according to individual capabilities.
    • Accepting suggestions and criticism.

Spiritual Considerations

  • Collect your thoughts and emotions.
  • Identify your personal beliefs.
  • Use self-control.
  • Meditate.
  • Remember past inner sources to help you overcome adversity.
  • Pray for your God’s help, strength, wisdom, and rescue.
    • Talk to your God.
    • Give thanks that God is with you.
    • Ask for God’s help.
    • Pray for protection and a positive outcome.
  • Remember scripture, verses, or hymns; repeat them to yourself and to your God.
  • Worship without aid of written scripture, clergy, or others.
  • Forgive—
    • Yourself for what you have done or said that was wrong.
    • Those who have failed you.
  • Praise God and give thanks because—
    • God is bigger than your circumstances.
    • God will see you through (no matter what happens).
    • Hope comes from a belief in heaven and/or an after-life.
  • Trust.
    • Faith and trust in your God.
    • Love for family and self.
    • Never lose hope.
    • Never give up.
  • With other survivors—
    • Identify or appoint a religious lay leader.
    • Discuss what is important to you.
    • Share scriptures and songs.
    • Pray for each other.
    • Try to have worship services.
    • Write down scriptures and songs that you remember.
    • Encourage each other while waiting for rescue,
  • remember—
    • Your God loves you.
    • Praise your God.
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