Negativity Will Drag You Down When SHTF

This world is unbelievably negative. Most people around me – home, work, friends – seem to relish in the demise of others and spew out a constant stream of negative comments. I think “gossip” taking over English as the most common language here in the States. What I often hear is “Guess what so and so did today.” and “You won’t believe who did what and with whom.” It is pretty ridiculous.

I rarely watch the news – especially the local news. No surprise – the news typically is full of nothing but bad news, talking about who killed who and what politician got caught with a prostitute as well as a daily dose robbers, rapes and burglaries. Honestly – I am just not interested in negative news.

depressed woman

A few years ago as part of my job I attended some seminars which were related to relationships between people. It is a fact that if you are exposed to negativity – it will have a negative impact on you and can affect your outlook and demeanor.

Now, if you are exposed to positive images, news, and experiences – it will likely have a positive impact on you. It gave me the idea to explore the impact of negativity- attitudes, outlooks and speech- on prepping in general. The time has come: in this article, we will do just that. Let this be a warning and a guidepost to help you avoid the insidious infection that is a negative worldview.

Attitude is Active

Something else I have learned and try my best at is choosing my own attitude. In Seattle Washington there is a fish market and the workers there seem so happy. Now – these guys are surrounded by wet, stinky smelly fish all day long – yet they appear to be perfectly happy. They choose to confront their situation positively.

There are many days that my job just flat out sucks and I spend quite a bit of time stressed out and frustrated. With that in mind – I walk through my door at home and never say anything about it. I do not walk in kicking the wife and slapping the dog. If I am asked how my day went – I will answer brightly “Better than I deserve!” .

My positive response will have a positive impact on my family. If someone cares about you and then you let of a rage filled 5 minute rant about how crappy your life is – they themselves will likely become depressed and unhappy.

Thoughts Become Actions

It is no exaggeration to say that your thoughts become your actions, whether they are passive or active. This is why it is so essential that you marshal your thoughts at all times.

When you think negatively, pretty soon you start talking negatively, and when you start talking negatively it invariably follows that your actions will trend towards the negative.

It can be unhealthy (not to mention annoying ) in everyday life when you aren’t generally concerned about life or death, but when you are in a serious situation the biblical aphorism that “life and death reside in the tongue” will take on an entirely new meaning.

Consider this: Even when you’re facing something difficult, something perhaps even terrifying, and you are thinking positively about the outcome, it doesn’t mean you’re deluding yourself about what’s at stake. It means you are sizing it up, you’re maneuvering, you’re looking for an opening, an exit, a solution.

You are investing in your own positive outcome, whatever the event. No matter the situation and no matter your context positive thoughts are always easier and more efficient to process in a time-is-life situation.

Focusing on what might happen or what you’ll lose if you screw up is only going to fill your mind with the equivalent of emotional concrete mix. Thinking quickly, clearly and correctly is essential for success in an emergency; do you really want to unduly burden yourself?

Let us contrast this with a steady diet of negative thoughts. When you think about all the time you’ve wasted, everything that’s gone wrong, everything you’ve done wrong or screwed up, woe-is-me, God hates me and all the other pity party nonsense you are adding more and more weight to your mental baggage train.

Now, suddenly, mentally you’ve got a lot more weight to move just to get moving at all, and correspondingly more inertia to arrest if you want to stop that toxic train of thought.

This is why one runaway whine-fest so often turns into a proper pity party and eventually a vicious cycle of despair ending in helplessness, an acceptance of what hand fate has dealt you.

And to think, it all began with a single thought… You might be the most skilled, well-equipped and otherwise capable prepper alive but if you cannot control, truly control, your thoughts it will all count for nothing.

Lacking the discipline or the emotional fortitude to keep things in perspective and set aside your own negative emotions and thoughts while focusing on the task at hand is an indulgence you cannot afford in an SHTF situation. The consequences are far-reaching, as we will explore in the following sections.

Negativity Saps Willpower

You ever had a day where it feels like you just can’t go on dealing with the mundane, annoying but somehow infuriatingly tiny decisions and chores that comprise a day-to-day life?

As it turns out, there’s a reason for that: an altogether human frailty, or limitation if you’re being charitable. As it turns out, every decision we make, even if it is just the decision to persist in the face of some annoyance saps our willpower.

Though it is true that you can work on and build up your willpower, almost like building a muscle at the gym, typically we have a finite supply of it over a given length of time, like a big tank full of fuel.

Big, hairy, scary, dangerous tasks, or painful ones, can drastically sap our willpower by the gallon, exhausting us mentally and emotionally.

Smaller tasks or ones that entail no real risk but nonetheless require engagement and decision making will also drain our willpower, but in smaller and seemingly unnoticeable sips. Those seemingly harmless little sips should give you some insight into the problem with negative thinking.

Thinking negative thoughts, and having to persist along with your day to day routine in essence sets up dozens or hundreds of tiny little emotional and mental “speed bumps” in your way. One or two isn’t an issue. A dozen will get your attention. A hundred will drain you dry and leave you frazzled.

That’s why you should consider negative talk and thoughts anathema to all progress, or momentary (and I do mean momentary) indulgences at the very best.

The more you live with negative self talk, the less willpower you will have on tap when the chips are truly down, and lives are on the line. If you are like me you have spent a small fortune on getting prepared for whatever events life may throw at you, both materially and educationally.

If you are wise (like me, natch) you take care of your body with good nutrition and plenty of exercise to make yourself more useful and harder to kill. Why then, why, would you give yourself a pass mentally? Why would you leave your “command center” and your first and most important tool in such shabby, nasty shape?

Maybe this sounds like you, or maybe it doesn’t. I say if the shoe fits, wear it. If you are feeling a roiling urge to tell me off in the comments section, well, bombers only get flak when they are over the target!

All horseplay aside, I’m not trying to tear you down as less-than; I’m trying to help you! You must be present in your own head, like a quality control inspector watching the products that come down that conveyor belt for final finishing or packaging at the factory.

Anytime that negative talk, poor outlook or other unhelpful pessimism starts to come down the assembly line, you have to hit that buzzer and reject it, replacing it with an equivalent thought that will lead an accurately to a positive outcome, or at least uplift you.

This is not New-Agey, happy-go-lucky, butterfly-chasing, safe spacing self-affirmation that has no basis in reality. You can go check in with anybody who is a leader in their domain, particularly in physical performance, and they will tell you very much the same in one way or another.

You can do everything else right, and still lose because you did not avoid the negativity trap.

Attitudes Are Contagious

Something else to consider is how your attitude will affect those around you, particularly those surviving with you in your group or even members of your own family. Bottom line, attitudes are contagious. Fear, doubt, despair, blame, resentment, bitterness and panic are all infectious.

But you want to know something? Hope, cheerfulness, pluck, grit, determination, and persistence are also catching! Ask yourself which one you’d rather catch?

In very much the same way as storing ripe, edible fruit with a single bad piece will quickly spoil the entire bunch one bad attitude can rapidly sow the seeds of discord in even the best prepared, best trained group that otherwise has good morale.

Chances are you are going to be in something of a leadership position during an SHTF situation. Your family is going to be looking to you for wisdom, for insight and for decisions. They expect you to have a plan, and be a leader. What does a good leader look like?

A good leader does not look like a scared, broken down, whiny piece of shit. A leader is upright, calm, focused, and a fixed point for his charges, a lighthouse for the people that he is leading. You have to be the latter and not the former for your group, whoever they are.

This also creates a potential problem for you as the leader, if someone under your charge is cursed with a pessimistic personality or is so overcome with grief, loss or pain that they turn into a fountain of negativity, spraying it all over everyone and everything around. You’ll have to take action to arrest this behavior, either using an open hand or, if necessary, a closed fist.

This is getting into some seriously tricky nuts and bolts when it comes to practical leadership, and the bounds of that discussion are beyond this article but it is something you should look into and be prepared for.

Lastly, no matter how bad the situation is, no matter how grim the outlook or how unsurvivable a situation seems hope, optimism and persistence are always, always, always a better decision and worthwhile endeavor compared to despair and hopelessness.

History furnishes us many examples of cast iron tough leaders who brought their people whole or nearly so for the worst imaginable circumstances. Never give up!

But There is Positive Power in Negative Preparation

But negativity in thought does not have to be, well, negative, not all the time! There is a principle that can actually turn it to your advantage, that can focus it into a force for good. This is known as the “positive power of negative preparation”.

In short, you will let all those fears, worries and perceived shortcomings direct you and focus your efforts and energies to either verifying that, no, they are not genuine flaws in your planning and preparation, or allowing you to shore up and correct those real deficiencies.

I will admit that this is a strategy I use myself pretty much all the time. You might say I am “naturally” pessimistic, or at least grim of aspect, but I never use it as an excuse to whine, quit or otherwise give up on my purposes.

I do, however, constantly face a plague of self-doubt, worry and a nagging feeling that I’ve overlooked something or forgotten something important. Instead of letting this mild neuroses stalk my waking and sleeping moments I let it direct me to ever greater heights of diligence.

So the next time you have a negative thought that you aren’t ready, aren’t strong enough, aren’t prepared, haven’t planned enough or haven’t foreseen all ends tap your brakes; instead of following that down into the rabbit hole, start assessing. Start making viable, reasoned determinations and then act accordingly.

Treat those negative worries like an itch to be scratched, and nothing more. It does not define your existence and furthermore you are likely, like most times, worrying about things that will never happen. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make sure those things that won’t happen to you and yours, you copy?


I wish more people thought about how their negative comments and statements affect others. The world might be a better place to live, but the real toll is on the psyche and fortitude of the individuals mired in this bog of negative thinking that contaminates their speech and actions. How many more champions, captains and heroes might we have if we could re-string the tape playing in their minds?

At any rate, you will only improve your chances of obtaining a successful outcome in any emergency or prolonged disaster situation by keeping your thoughts, words and actions in the realm of positivity.

By the way – I am having a great day today! Are you?


last update: 04/20/2021

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9 thoughts on “Negativity Will Drag You Down When SHTF”

  1. It’s funny… I’ve been a daily Drudge Report reader for years and years, but a few days ago, I got really discouraged by how f-ed up the articles have been. People killing children, a lady dead in a public pool for two days, riots in Greece, politicians lying everybody. I’ve barely looked at Drudge yesterday or today, and I’m weaning myself on it to escape the negativity.

    You speak some wise words here today, my friend.


  2. Rourke,

    Wow. This is quickly becoming one of my favorite “prepper sites”. You always seem to have a cornicopia of information posted on here and nothing is off limits. I can say with complete honesty that your site is like no other. And, I think that is how it should be and I think that is great. Look at the title of your website. Modern Survival Online. That about says it all doesn’t it? I don’t think anything should be off limits when you are talking about prepping, survival or disaster preparedness. If you read a lot of survival or preparedness books, one thing that is always brought up as a topic is the “psychological factor” invovled in staying alive. What does that entail? A positive attitude and obviously, a will to go on or something to live for back home. I honestly think it is 90% of the game.

    If you ever happen to read anything on the holocaust you find that the individuals who made it through that experience were always the ones who had something to live for or generally had a positive attitude. Or as positive as they could maintain in those hellhole’s.

    In Man’s Search for Meaning Victor Frankl says:

    “Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

    There’s power in them there words ain’t there?

    I don’t know where we lost it as a society. I have my theories, as I am sure many others do as well. I can usally trace it back to one thing. I find that a lot of people are spritually weak or confused. Not all, mind you, but most. I know that sounds harsh but I think it is the truth. Full disclosure, I would include myself in that category as well. I am no rock by any means, but I still go out there and try to be decent to people, to be respectful. How sad is it that people are surprised when you treat them with dignity and respect?

    We have become a nation of fearful and paranoid souls. As I said, it’s spiritual weakness and confusion. Take that at it’s face. It not an advertisement for Christianity or any other type of following, I am merely making a personal observation. I have my own set of beliefs and that seems to carry me thru life and I think that element has to be there for people to make it through this journey.

    Like I said, I don’t care what it is, but a belief in something larger than yourself tends to put things into perspective for a person and can add some humility as well, not to mention keeping the ego in check.

    Being decent to people and having a positive attitude is something you have to cultivate. You have to work at it. However, that seems to be the hardest venture of all in our society. Isn’t it easier to tear another down? To be negative and take joy in another person’s misery or downfall? Isn’t that fun? I see this all of the time. I see it at work, at the grocery stores, on tv, online and in any other institution you can think of in this country.

    It’s quite sad really, and at times I find myself feeling rather hopeless. I can’t help but think we are completely doomed.

    I think George Carlin said it best:

    “We are so self important….and the greatest arrogance of all is Save The Planet…What? Are these fucking people kidding me? Save the planet? We don’t even know how to take care of ourselves yet? We haven’t learned how to care for one another yet. Were gonna save the fucking planet? I am tired of that shit!”

    So is that were we are going? Into darkness? People in my SG chide me all the time about a SHTF scenario and how I think that if people would take the time and learn to work together that maybe we could figure this thing out. If we learned to rely on one another I don’t think there is anything we could not accomplish as a nation. We could make it through this time in our history.

    That’s not what they members of my SG say…they say..”No way!” People will return to there animal instincts and it will be every man for himself. Don’t get me wrong, I have no Pollyanna dreams of thinking that things will be just fine. It will get medieval if we had something like an EMP.

    But is that the best we can do? Resort to being animals and guarding our shit? Or is it just easier to waste your fellow countrymen? See what that’s like, and see if you can live with yourself after that experience. No man or woman should ever have to live with that on their conscience.

    Do we always have to believe in that paradigm?

    I guess it’s just easier to have a negative attitude eh?

    Good stuff Rourke.

    Sorry if I rambled on.


    Suggested Reading

    The Fourth Turning by William Strauss and Neil Howe

    • Hi Ben –

      Thanks for the comments and great points as well.

      Not much more to say on the subject myself other than I try to keep as positive as possible although negativity surrounds me.

      The more people think and consider what they say, how they say it – and the effect it may have on other people – the more they may realize how negative they are and change (if they even need to).

      Thanks again –


  3. When someone ask me how I am I say ” I am just as happy as if I had good sense ” It mostly makes them smile and it may be true too .

    Thanks for all you do .
    Robert W

  4. This is a great statement, I hope many of your readers take it with them and think of it throughout the day. It’s easy to be negative and not think about the impact it has on others. Once in a great while I’ll bring something home from work, I’ll tell my story and not dwell on it but mostly I feel I am pretty good at not letting work affect me at home (get home, focus on home, leave work at the door); I should probably remember this article from time to time while at work. =)

  5. Amen! I have had many setbacks in my life, most from my own poor decisions early on in life. I made a conscious decision several years ago to be happy. You would not believe what a differnce that has made in my overall outlook and my life. Instead of waiting for happiness to happen to you, you have to just BE happy. Once I figured that out, my life has never, never been the same…..I HIGHLY recommend it!

  6. This is one of those posts that makes you think and we could all use more of those. I don’t watch tv EXCEPT for the news, but here in Maine it’s not as bad as other places (cities) that I’ve been to, so watching it is how I stay informed of local events. Excellent point about being upbeat for you family after a days work. I’m going to try it on Tuesday. Happy 4th!

    -Jarhead Survivor


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