Psychology of Survival

The psychology of survival is something that many self- defense teachers and survivalists leave out of their agenda to the detriment of themselves and their students. Most anyone can learn how to block a punch, build a shelter and put food on the table, but the difference between learning and doing can show itself when the catastrophe occurs.

The Will to Survive

psychology of survival

Having the skills to survive is important, having the will to survive is even more so. If you are not mentally trained, many things can beat down a person struggling in the face of disaster. Don’t let your mind defeat you, instead focus on something that makes you want to overcome disaster, such as your kids, your spouse, or any treasured relationship. Keeping focused like that will keep your will from being sapped from your mind and body.


Probably the biggest hurdle you will have to overcome in a potential life or death situation is fear. If that emotion is allowed to run rampant you will find it almost impossible to use the skills you have been taught. In the psychology of survival fear is the first battle you will likely face.

Fear is a natural reaction and one you can turn into something positive. The best way to conquer fear is to have the right realistic training. If you are going to learn how to deal with disaster scenarios you need to make sure the people teaching you are qualified to do so. Knowledge is power and knowledge will take the power out of fear.

Anger and Frustration

If you’re in a life and death situation chances are things are not always going to go your way and that can lead to both emotions. The best way to take the power from both those feelings is to keep busy doing constructive things. Build a fire, build a shelter, set a snare or do whatever you have to do to keep positive and be doing what you need to survive. Take a step back and look for some humor in it all.

Lack of Purpose

In the psychology of survival, a lack of purpose quickly leads to depression and that takes away your will to survive. The best way to defeat this feeling is to make a plan of action then stick to it. Following that plan of action will give you back your sense of purpose and will to survive. If you are not alone, make sure everyone in the group has an assigned task to keep them focused.


If anger and frustration are getting to you, you’re likely to experience depression as well. When it comes to the psychology of survival, one of the worst things you can do for depression is to do nothing. If you’re sitting around, get up and do something. If you cannot think of what to do, take a walk or start exercising. Physical movement goes a long way to ending depression.

Depression is normal for a survival scenario and its okay to recognize the feeling. Allow yourself to feel a little then get on with the business of survival. Think of things that motivate you, as well as the positive events and people that have made your life worthwhile. Think of things in your life that you have overcome, as that will give you motivation as well.


When it comes to the psychology of survival, if you are not careful your mind can beat you long before you find yourself in a life and death disaster scenario. Denying that disaster or catastrophe can happen to you or your family, will keep you from taking the steps to prepare for survival. You need to recognize that it could happen to you and you need to prepare for that eventuality.

Return from Psychology of Survival to Survival Living

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