As Things Devolve, Here’s Why Understanding the Brutal Reality of the SHTF Could Save Your Life
There’s something incredibly important for your survival that a lot of folks aren’t doing. I’ve written before about overriding your body’s natural urge to freeze in panic when something terrible happens, but there’s an additional step you must take. You need to know the horrible truth about the SHTF. The ugly, brutal truth.
Because as much as we stockpile, go to the shooting range and shoot stationary objects, can vegetables from our gardens, and raise chickens in our backyards, it only prepares us partially.
From my many interviews with guys like Selco and Jose, I know for a fact that an all-out collapse is a dirty, terrifying, and brutal matter of life and death every single day.
As much as we wish it was, the SHTF is not about you being in a bubble, peacefully working in your vegetable garden while the world goes to hell around you outside the bubble. The darkness can reach you wherever you are.
We’re seeing this in cities around the country right now. Read this first-hand story of a National Guard member in Seattle and this eye-witness account of the riots in Kenosha. Look at the violent plans of wealthy young people arrested for rioting in New York City. Think about this hotly contested election. We’re beginning to see armed conflict right here in the United States of America.
Think about these things and recognize that many parts of our nation are right on the brink of all-out disaster.
Ask yourself whether you’re really, truly prepared for that.
Why is it so important to know about the bad stuff?
Many of us try to insulate ourselves from the dark things going on in the world. I know that I stay away from social media beyond what is required for work because I’m sick of the arguing and the hatred. There are certain articles in the news I hesitate to read because I know they will haunt me. This is human nature – we avoid things that scare us, sicken us, and make us unhappy.
But there are some exceptions to this rule that you should make.
It’s incredibly important to know about the horrible things that could occur when the SHTF well before it happens. I asked Selco about this in a conversation we were having when he wrote his first paperback, The Dark Secrets of SHTF Survival I asked him why people needed to know about the horrors he faced. He replied,
So you won’t be shocked and so you can shorten adapting period while you are shocked.
Generally speaking, there are lot of sick and bad and dangerous people. We just do not see them because the layer of civilization and the system covers it. And of course, if I had known, I would prep more but in the way that I would invest more in skills. Much more than in equipment.
Everything is much more mobile and fluid then people expect, but if you understand this, you will be able to move with it faster and sooner.
And that makes sense. I write a lot about the importance of adaptation. I constantly remind people that the three steps of survival are to Accept, Plan, and Act. But trust me when I tell you, if something truly horrifying happens right before your eyes, it’s going to be a heck of a lot harder to “accept” that if you never even dreamed that such an awful thing could happen in real life. But if you’ve contemplated it, if you’re aware of the possibility, it will still be horrible but you’ll be able to keep moving. You won’t be frozen in shock.
You need to train yourself not to freeze.
Many people freeze in a disaster situation. It’s human nature, but the ability to break this paralysis is paramount to your survival. You can train yourself not to freeze by exposing yourself to the things you may experience while in a safe environment.
“Freezing” is called “tonic immobility” in behavioral science and it is a biological impulse. A study exploring the “freeze response” to stressors, describes the reaction:
Part of Barlow’s (2002) description of an adaptive alarm model suggests that a freeze response may occur in some threatening situations. Specifically, freezing — or tonic immobility — may overwhelm other competing action tendencies. For example, when fleeing or aggressive responses are likely to be ineffective, a freeze response may take place.
Similar to the flight/fight response, a freeze response is believed to have adaptive value. In the context of predatory attack, some animals will freeze or “play dead.” This response, often referred to as tonic immobility (Gallup, 1977), includes motor and vocal inhibition with an abrupt initiation and cessation… Freezing in the context of an attack seems counterintuitive. However, tonic immobility may be the best option when the animal perceives little immediate chance of escaping or winning a fight (Arduino & Gould, 1984; Korte, Koolhaas, Wingfield, & McEwen, 2005). For example, tonic immobility may be useful when additional attacks are provoked by movement or when immobility may increase the chance of escaping, such as when a predator believes its prey to be dead and releases it.
Some of our data suggested that reports of freeze were more highly associated with certain cognitive symptoms of anxiety (e.g., confusion, unreality, detached, concentration, inner shakiness). This leads to some very interesting speculation regarding whether freeze responses are also manifested cognitively (i.e., the cognitive system, together with the behavioral system, being shut down). There has been some speculation that a form of cognitive paralysis occurs due to immense cognitive demands that occur in the context of life-threatening situations or stressors (Leach, 2005).
So, in the context of this particular study, the freeze response could be related to an overload of stimuli because of the demands of creating your plan. By having thought through various situations and getting into the habit of quickly developing plans, you can override your body’s natural desire to “freeze” and you can take definitive, potentially life-saving, action.
By exposing yourself to the darkness, you don’t inoculate yourself against the horror – that’s impossible to do through simply reading a book. But you do take away a little bit of the shock that can cause you to be paralyzed.
What made Selco realize that the SHTF was actually there?
We’ve all read and learned a great deal from Selco and he shares his stories with such calmness that sometimes you don’t fully grasp the horror of what he lived through. I asked him what the event was that opened his eyes to the fact that he was stuck in Hell on Earth, and his answer was chilling.
When I saw people killing for fun. Killing without reason. Killing with no concerns about punishment or the law. Throwing others from 10 story buildings out of curiosity, to see if they’d live – while taking bets on it. Of course they were sure they were gonna die, but they said” I bet you’ll survive and if you do we’ll let you go.” It was a “joke” to them.
That’s when he knew that everything had changed and that there were new rules to living. It was simply not the same world he’d woken up it a few days before.
A while back, I asked Selco to send me a copy of everything he’d ever written so that I could pull together a reality check for the rest of us. Over the years, he’s written nearly a quarter of a million words of memories, articles, and advice. Together, we selected the things that provided a glimpse into the day-to-day events of the SHTF. You can learn more about the result of that here in his books, The Dark Secrets of SHTF Survival and SHTF Survival Stories.
Back on topic.
Do you have a potential predator living next door?
Do you know people in real life who you think would turn into predators if they knew that there was no risk of punishment? If they knew that they wouldn’t go to prison because the prisons were gone? If they knew there was no 911 or law enforcement to help their victims?
I do. I’ve known people in the past that I’m quite certain would be the kind of animals who kill men and cage their women and daughters for their own sick amusement if they thought they could get away with it. I’ve had people write to me about their plans to take other people’s preps or to “take care of someone” who had done them wrong in the past when it all hits the fan.
They’re out there. They are our neighbors. Our coworkers. The random guy who is in town on business. The person with such strong political beliefs that he sees people who think differently as the enemy.
They may not even realize that they’re waiting for this chance but when the opportunity presents itself and there’s no real risk to them, you can be sure they’ll jump at it with glee.
And you want to be ready for them.
A lot of us were unpleasantly surprised by what we learned about those near us during the lockdown. And we still had a functioning system at that time. Now, the system is crumbling rapidly, and the last deterrents are disappearing in some areas.
There are different levels for which we prepare.
Are people going to be running around brutally slaughtering their neighbors the next time we have a snowstorm or a hurricane? Of course not. Because we still have the veneer of civilization – and it isn’t going to shatter over a weather event when help is just a few days away.
There are many different types of events for which we prepare. We as preppers want to be ready for everything from
- being stranded in our car due to a winter run-in with a deer
- to a multi-day power outage at home
- to a job loss that causes great personal financial distress
- to a full-on SHTF event in which all hell breaks loose.
We aren’t like the folks on that show Doomsday Preppers who are presented as only preparing for a giant meteor or a deadly pandemic that will wipe out 98% of the earth’s population. We are the people who want to be ready for everything.
Up to and including SHTF.
Sometimes I think we’re on the brink of darkness.
We’re at a dark point in American history right now. I’m not gazing into a crystal ball and predicting that we are about to face a civil war like the one that Selco endured. But I’m also not saying that we are free of any risk of such a thing.
Tensions (as I write frequently) are at a real high right now. Our socio-political scene is a true nightmare studded with extremists who sincerely see the “others” as the enemy. They surround the homes of spokespeople and threaten their families. They rally, united in hatred against one another. They battle it out for and against the admission of immigrants and things are increasingly heated.
Every time there is a questionable verdict, we’re on the brink.
Every time there is an appointment to offices in Washington, DC, we’re on the brink.
Every time there is an election, we’re on the brink.
Civil debates are a thing of the past. People are enraged when others disagree with them and they react with hatred, not discussion.
Our nation seems to be headed to a very dark place. And if this is the case, you’re going to want – no, you’re going to need – to be prepared for the ugliness and brutality that comes with that.
Knowing just how bad things can get will prepare you to take the steps that you must to survive. Knowing how twisted and evil people can be will help you to take the necessary steps to protect your family. Knowing what to expect when you defend yourself with necessary force can help you to carry through if it is something that you must do.
And keep reading, because this is the stuff you need to know if you want to survive the increasing violence.
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