Denial & Self Induced Pressure

I’ve had a lot of good feedback from the last newsletter; it’s not just heartening for me but also extremely useful to hear your views, so please keep them coming. Some of you have related some fascinating incidents where survivors have, through positivity and self belief, come shining through, despite all odds. One incident stands out in particular where a girl on a paddling expedition on the Caimans River in the Western Cape was swept downstream in a flash flood. She spent hours clinging to a ledge in the darkness before finally being rescued yet the first words she said to her rescuer were “I knew I would survive this”. (I’m in the process of tracking down both her and her rescuer to get more details of their remarkable story).

I’ve also had a lot of requests to discuss survival kits and equipment, what’s essential, what works and what doesn’t. Your comments and requests are duly noted and I will have something special for you in the February issue. However, I’m going to start the year off by focusing on two big killers in any survival situation: Denial and Self Induced Pressure.

Wherever you are, whatever it is you do for a living, one can all too readily hear the well worn and slightly comical phrase, “I don’t believe it!” The trouble is that in a survival situation, Denial can be lethal. Perhaps as a misfired mechanism for self protection, our brains are hardwired into not wanting to believe that something horrible is happening. There’s a great story by retired LA cop, David Klinger in his autobiography ‘The Kill Zone’. One night, when moonlighting as a security guard for a bank in the US, he saw a group of masked gunmen in the lobby. Rather than accepting that the bank was actually being robbed, his brain first offered up a whole range of less frightening options including:

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