Acceptance: The Secret to Surviving Any Crisis

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Author of Be Ready for Anything and Bloom Where You’re Planted online course

When disaster strikes, will you be ready? Will you be organized, calm, and ready to adapt to whatever the situation brings? Sometimes we have some warning, and sometimes things happen out of the blue. There is one simple secret that will allow you to sail through nearly any crisis. It doesn’t cost a lot of money or take up an entire roomful of storage space: acceptance.

You can’t take the actions that could save your life until you have accepted the fact that something bad enough has happened that those actions need to be taken.

The more time you spend denying that this  – whatever “this” is – could ever happen to you, happen in your hometown, or occur at all, the less time you have to take definitive action. In fact, your willingness to accept that disaster could strike before it ever does puts you even further ahead, because you’ll be ready for immediate action without wasting valuable time wrapping your brain around it.

I’m not the only person who thinks that acceptance is important. Selco wrote that when the SHTF in Bosnia, most people missed the fact that it was all going down until it was too late to take steps to protect themselves.

You may miss the signs. I did.

I have seen all the signs above, and I failed to run. I ended up right in the middle of SHTF.

It is not only important to see and recognize signs. It is important to believe that it can actually happen. Because after I saw all the signs, I just said to myself, “Oh, it cannot happen here. Somebody somehow is gonna solve everything.”

It is very hard to trust in something that you did not experience before. Only now do I believe that a lot of horrible things are possible. (source)

He wrote in another article that because he didn’t accept how bad things were getting, he did not loot as much as he should have when society broke down. He didn’t accept the fact that new rules were in play.

Please understand that when I talk about acceptance, I’m not telling you to just sit there and accept your fate. I’m advising you to avoid your brain’s way to protect itself through denial because that will slow you down.

We watched denial at work firsthand during the King Fire.

A few years back, we hovered on the edge of evacuation for 12 days due to the King Fire, a forest fire that nearly reached 100,000 acres.  We got up on a sunny Saturday morning,  never realizing that would be the day an angry man would punctuate a domestic dispute by setting fire to a tree in the other person’s yard. Certainly, no one expected that one act of anger to set off a fire that would exceed the size of the city of Atlanta.

However, he did set that fire, and it came as close as 2 miles to our home over the almost-two-weeks that we watched with bated breath.

During the fire, I joined a number of local groups online so that I could get the most up-to-the-minute information, and during this time, I took lots of notes of my observations. The thing that was very clear is that those who were at least somewhat prepared handled the situation far better than those who simply couldn’t accept that this threat was actually happening to them.

As someone who has studied preparedness for many years, I witnessed firsthand the classic exemplar of human behavior during a disaster.  Tess Pennington, the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, wrote an article called The Anatomy of a Breakdown. In the article, she pointed out that in the event of a disaster, society devolves in a predictable pattern with four distinct phases.  Her observations were accurate during our experience.  As we watched the events unfold, some people changed dramatically.

What helps you to be calm during a crisis?

The difference between the people who crumbled, becoming easily offended, snarling, and hysterical, and the people who were generous, calm, and effective?  Their levels of preparedness, both mental and physical. Because they were prepared, they had already

Think about any stressful situation that has ever happened to you.  Once you accepted the fact that it had happened you were able to set a course of action. Once you had definitive steps to take, you probably felt much calmer. You took control of the things you could, and you executed your plan.  Only by taking that first step – accepting that this mishap had indeed occurred – could you take the next two.

1.) Accept

2.) Plan

3.) Act

No matter what situation you find yourself in, these steps will nearly always see you through. (Here’s an article about that process.)

Here’s how it all went down.

During our own experience, here are the things I witnessed. They could apply to any type of disaster, natural or otherwise. Notice how acceptance plays a starring role in many of them.

Bug out bags are absolutely the first prep you should make. If you’re just getting started, do this one thing. You can do it without spending a penny, by just gathering up things that you already own. You may not have a top-of-the-line, ready-for-the-apocalypse bag like this one, but you’ll still be far ahead of most people.  When we first learned of the fire and realized that evacuating might become necessary, I had only two things to do. I had to get documents from the safe (the documents, by the way, were already housed in a plastic folder, so I only had to grab that one thing) and pull the pet carriers out of the shed. In less than 5 minutes, we were ready to roll. Had it been necessary, we could have left with only the photocopies of the documents, because those always remain in our bug-out bags. Having your bug-out bag ready means that you have accepted in advance that disaster could strike.

Any time one disaster strikes, several more are sure to follow. This is highly probable.  Some people in the fire zone not only stayed on the edge of evacuation for nearly two weeks, but they also lost power due to the fire.  This greatly reduced their ability to get news and information, which is vital in a disaster situation. It leads to even more worry and stress, and while you’re dealing with the potential of your home burning down, you’re also living through a power outage lasting several days. Getting prepared for a two-week power outage is absolutely vital and can see you through most regional disasters. Also, when it finally began to rain, although it helped to quench the flames, firefighters were suddenly threatened by flash floods. These were made worse because the areas no longer had the same natural obstructions to deter the flow of water.

Unprepared people panic.  Some people panicked initially. When we got the first evacuation alert (a notice that evacuation was highly likely within the next 24 hours), a woman who lived down the street was wailing and sobbing as her husband tried to pack up their vehicle.  She was rendered absolutely useless by fear. Meanwhile, my 13-year-old was fulfilling her list while I fulfilled mine and we quickly made an orderly stack of important belongings, then turned on a movie to beat the stress. Had our area actually been forced to evacuate, those who panicked would have either been the last to leave, or they would have forgotten important things as they left in a disorganized rush. It’s important to decide ahead of time who packs what, and for each person to have a list. Sit down well before disaster strikes and make an evacuation plan with your family.

Get organized.  All the lists in the world won’t help you pack quickly if you don’t know where things are. One change we’re making is that all of the items we deemed precious enough to pack and take with us will now be stored in one area so that we won’t have to look for them when seconds count.  Another friend ran into the issue of dirty clothes: he actually had to evacuate with hampers of unwashed laundry. Having your home tidy and organized (and your laundry washed and put away) will help your packing go smoothly in the event of a sudden evacuation.

You can’t be prepared for everything.  Disaster situations are always fluid and they don’t go by a script. It’s vital to be adaptable to the changing situation.

Keep your vehicle full of fuel.  If you have to evacuate, lots of other people will be hitting the road too. When you’re stuck in traffic, you don’t want to be worried about your fuel gauge dropping to the empty mark, leaving you stranded in a dangerous situation.

The criminals come out, like cockroaches. Within 24 hours of the first evacuations, we learned that the local scumbags had looted some of the homes that had been left unattended. Within 48 hours, we learned that the scourge had reached the outlying areas, with these people breaking into cars that had been loaded up with the things that families had determined to be most important to them.  Of course, if you’ve evacuated, there’s nothing you can do about what’s happening to your home. But before evacuation, or in the event of civil unrest, it’s vital to be prepared to defend your family and belongings. In these situations, the first responders are busy, and that’s what criminals rely on. You should consider yourself to be completely on your own, and be ready for trouble. Keep in mind that during the civil unrest in Ferguson recently, the only businesses that didn’t get looted were the ones at which the owners stood armed and ready to defend their property.

The longer the stress lasts, the worse some people behave. As continued stress is applied, the true nature of a person becomes evident. People who formerly seemed like perfectly nice individuals were on the local message forums saying terrible things to one another. They were verbally attacking others for imagined slights and taking offense at things that would normally never ruffle feathers. Some folks were launching tirades against the very people who were performing the greatest service: the admins of the webpages who worked round the clock to keep us informed. If it was this bad in a potential emergency, can you imagine how bad things will get in a truly devastating long-term scenario?

But then…some people are wonderful. Alternatively, sometimes you see the very best of human nature. The generosity of many of my neighbors cannot be overstated. They housed livestock, pets, and families full of strangers during the evacuation. People showed up at the shelter with food and comfort items for those who had been evacuated. Firemen who came from near and far to fight the blaze were constantly being treated to meals at local restaurants, as other diners surreptitiously paid their tabs. Watching the kindness and gratitude helped to restore some of my faith in human nature, after seeing the squabbling and crime. It was interesting to me that the people who gave the most generously were the ones who were the most prepared. These folks were calm and could focus on other things besides “Oh my gosh, I don’t know what to do!” We definitely learned who the people were that we wanted to surround ourselves with when the S really HTF.

Take steps now to be one of those calm people later.

Today, I want you to think about disasters. It’s certainly not a pleasant thought, but considering these things now – when there’s no fire bearing down on you, no hurricane heading your way, no chemical spill poisoning your water, no pandemic in the next town over – allows you to think more clearly and make a definitive plan of action. Instead of hoping it never happens to you and fearing that the actions you take will make it happen, accept that at some point, something bad will strike. And you’ll be ready.


  • Check your bug out bags.
  • Organize your most precious belongings.
  • Discuss your plans with your family so that everyone knows what to expect.
  • Understand the most likely disasters in your area and know what to do if they strike.
  • Learn more about the nature of the people around you and expect all that you know to change in the blink of an eye.

When – and it’s always “when” not “if” – disaster knocks at your door, be prepared to respond immediately. Learn about what to expect from others in order to keep your family safe and on-plan. Human nature isn’t as much of a variable when you can predict their behavior.

But most of all, accept the fact that bad things can happen. Don’t wallow in denial and waste precious time that could be spent surviving.

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Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3), an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

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  • You provided a very good evacuation packing list.

    I have a lot of special family photos saved on my computer.

    We all know hard drives can crash. Weekly and always prior to storm warnings, I backup my documents and pictures on a flash drive. It is small & I keep it in my purse.

  • That was outstanding, one of the few articles where someone has actual hands on experience with evacuation. To bad one malcontent sets a tree on fire that spread to destroy so much, not to mention damage to the environment and wildlife. Nonetheless we know those types will always be out there, so we just prepare for them, right. I sincerely hope the vandals didn’t hit your home and property. You mentioned,’get your brain wrapped around it’ which is omni-critical. When we are prepared as you have instructed the entire situation, at least for those that heeded your advice goes much smoother. But beyond those that didn’t prepare what are we going to do to prepare to collect our children and loved ones in a total nationwide no coming home shft? Now, let me envoke the military. I am a veteran but I never place a veteran above a civilian, never. But one thing the military got me used to doing was leaving the ones I loved. Knowing I would see them some day again, if I could just survive deployment, was great comfort. I never enjoyed leaving them, but separation was coming, I knew it, they knew it, and we dealt with it. But what happens when the lights go out permanently, the roads are jammed, choas is everywhere, no one is in charge of anything, and your kids are 12 miles away in daycare, your parents are 39 miles away in the nursing home, your grandkids are at Disney World, and…the mind goes numb. This is where we all should, as horrible as it is, get our minds wrapped around the irrefutable fact that once the grid goes down then some of our loved ones will be just memories. Mothers cause me great concern because they will never give up the search for a missing child. Grandmothers are even worse or better depending on how you look at it. Any third world country we have ever worked in was saturated with mothers and grandmothers conducting a relentless search for missing children and grandchildren and conversely, children looking for them. And maybe one tenth of one percent were successful in finding each other. The odds are astronomically against, not for, locating or having a chance encounter with a long lost family member. Another item, once the lights go out is the rumor mill. Example, your looking for Henry, your six year old, and haven’t seen him in three months. But a total stranger says, “I say a kid matching that description last week on the outskirts of your used to be hometown. Before you get there, walking I might add, you hear ten more rumors as to his location or sadly, his death. Don’t think these things don’t happen. They are happening all over the world as we speak. These sad features of shft will always happen and letting go can be an almost impossible task to ‘wrap your brain around’. Wives lose husbands, husbands lose wifes, families become separated never to be reunited again. The old have to be left behind, seen it to many times, there is just no way around it. Who you were before shft and what you are thirty days later can and will be light years apart. Many of you will say,”Oh for goodness sake, those things will never happen here”, but they can and they will, count on it. We live in perilous, leaderless times. This nation is a ship in an extremely stormy sea with apparently no Captain at the helm, and this is nothing new. Its been going on for a lot longer than the present administration. I’m not replying to get into politics, rather a heartfelt effort to get you to understand you not only need to get your brain wrapped around it but to become callous minded, so to speak. You will have to take what you have and work with it agaisnt all odds, repeat, against all odds. In closing, as our host indicated, and rest assured that her advice is engraved in never changing stone, that being, those without guns won’t survive. An unarmed civilian is a dead civilian, I can’t make it any plainer than that. Thanks for your time and Christ bless all of you.

    • Tow truck,
      I know what you are talking about, if it ends in “stan”, I’ve slept in the dirt there. I’ve been around. The advice I give my family and friends for any shtf situation is to be as single-minded, vicious even, as required to ensure your own survival. Once you are safe and can offer assistance, then do so, but ONLY from a position of strength. When driving out of harm’s way and you see the crashed car with survivors on the side of the road, keep going. It isn’t nice to say but me and mine come first. If I see the same crash from my house, or I am with “backup” I will render aid unless my gut says otherwise. There is a time for being merciless and a time to be merciful, it is what makes us human, but confuse the two at your own peril.

  • We had to evacuate because of a fire a couple of years ago. It was rather sudden and yes, we panicked.
    We grabbed a lot of stuff, and some friends came to help. I loaded suitcases and boxes, the friends hauled them out to their vehicles.
    I did forget some items, but I think I did pretty well. Some of the items I forgot were things that I have displayed and see everyday, such as a quilt made by my husband’s great grandmother and things like that. So, you might want to make a list of the things you have out to enjoy everyday and kind of become used to seeing.
    I have an external hard drive on my computer and completely forgot that as well.
    As a side note, we notice our neighbors (who are in their 30’s) carrying out TVs and electronics. I know they treasure these items and they are expensive, but those things can be replaced. We left all those things here and took keepsakes, medicines, important papers and the like.
    I feel calm and prepared for most things, but the fire was very, very unnerving. I was in a near state of panic which I’m not proud to admit.

  • I have evacuated a number of times because of hurricanes but fires are completely different. I had time to organize and get the kids and pets ready. the family came together to get the livestock taken care of and put away things that could become projectiles. the husband and I stayed up all night to get our small travel trailer loaded so we could stay in it when we got 90 miles north of Houston to my brother-in-laws homestead. it was traumatic but I cant even imagine how yall coped with a coming fire. it is just overwhelming to me. my best of you and all who are surviving the aftermath of all this.

  • VERY nice article and chock full of useful information. Thanks much for sharing your experience and expertise. 🙂

    One comment… you mentioned allergy medicine. My wife is allergic to tree and grass pollen and has been all her life. As a child and a teen she had to take a series of painful and expensive shots every spring to get some relief from this allergy. Then, one day, a friend recommended to her a natural allergy treatment and she tried it. Strangely enough, this treatment worked a lot better than the shots. It is painless, cheap, and effective. So, what is it? It is Bee Pollen and it is available in most grocery stores that have a health food / vitamin section. Its trick is that it has to build up in the body to be effective, so she takes 3 capsules per day for 2 weeks, then 2 capsules per day for 2 weeks, and then 1 capsule per day for the remainder of the summer. By following this regimen, she has eliminated this scourge from her life and without taking painful, expensive, and marginally effective artificial drugs. She starts this regimen in early February so that by mid-March when the pollen comes on, she is well protected from its effects. If she forgets to take a Bee Pollen capsule during the summer, her nose starts to itch and her eyes water almost immediately. She carries small plastic vials of these Bee Pollen capsules in her purse and in the car, so no matter where we are, she has some available in case she forgets to take her daily dose. We have recommended this to a number of friends. All of them who follow the regimen find relief. Those who do not, think that this does not work. It does but you MUST follow the guidelines for it to be effective. It HAS to build up in your system to work.

    There is one side effect of this medication but it is harmless. It can turn the urine a bright yellow-green color. It can be a bit of a surprise to those who don’t expect it but this does not cause any problems whatsoever.

    So, what is the cost of this wonder med? Less than $20 per year, which is an incredible buy considering the great relief that it brings.

    Cheers and best wishes to all… 🙂

  • Great article! There are a few things that jarred my memory for evacuations. Living in an area that gets beat with hurricanes (coastal North Carolina) we tend to get complacent with our preps for our most common disaster. The last hurricane to blow through wasn’t that bad, with minimal damage to my area, but it could have been worse. Even I got wrapped up in the “hurricane party” mentality when The Weather Channel said that it would be a weak storm. I didn’t even think about the “what ifs” this time. Granted, I am set up to run my house for 3 months currently, with no power and without having to leave the house – and most clean-up efforts here, post storm take a week max to get everything back on line, but what if I had to leave the house?
    I am in the military, and one of my many hats as an Operations Chief, is the Emergency Response Coordinator for my base (not as cool as it sounds, I get the kids out of the barracks and start them on cleaning up the base roads, etc…). This title allows me to sit in on emergency planning meetings with FEMA and other bases, should the need arise that the civilian population needs the military to assist out in town. I won’t go into that, as it has enough red tape to build several survival shelters, and at the end of the day, my kids will do what I tell them to do (happily) to help out our civilians without the money/permission trail that is “required” – and my boss is cool with that… But, the over view of planning for a mass evacuation was the most frightening thing I have seen in a very long time. In short, we would be screwed!
    The major highways connecting 2 large bases would be clogged within an hour of an evacuation order being issued, to the point of becoming a death trap – and “they” know this. Secondary roads, if you know which one to take, would be better, as most who live in this area are not locals, and rely on the major highways to navigate about. There would be a better than good chance that I would not be able to get home in my truck – which is part of our plan to evacuate.
     Know multiple routes to take to get out quickly – pack before it’s the last minute!
    My wife, being a woman, knows almost everything. When presented this dilemma, she came up with what we call “Plan A”. In the event that a storm is coming (the one good thing about hurricanes is that you tend to get plenty of warning), I would trade her mom van for my man truck. It makes sense in that I would be leaving “work” after an evacuation order would be issued, as I would be the one getting the kids on the busses to our evacuation shelters on another base. I would most likely get trapped in civilian/military families’ evacuation traffic leaving base. To abandon the mini-van, using my EDC/Get Home Bag to get me home (through a National Park = 13 miles, no sweat) would be better than leaving my truck – the truck would be packed and ready, waiting on me to get home. Load the kids (my actual kids, not work kids) and the dog and roll out. Seems legit – with one glaring issue. The bed is currently exposed. Not only to the elements – hurricane force winds are pretty crazy at times, but to others who can see all my wares. I fill my gas tank before I hit a half a tank. I’m a good prepper and this has be my thing. I also have (2) 5 gallon cans that I would carry. Should I run across someone who isn’t as prepared and wants my gas more than I do, this could become an issue. A big issue.
     Secure your gear – hide it from plane sight, out of sight, out of mind – and be prepared to defend it. People in a panic do stupid things.

  • “In fact, your willingness to accept that disaster could strike before it ever does puts you even further ahead, because you’ll be ready for immediate action without wasting valuable time wrapping your brain around it.”

    Excellent message, and your words above summarize it perfectly.

    All I can add is that once you accept that disasters will happen, become hyper-vigilant, able to detect the earliest signs of trouble. There’s a huge advantage to being “already gone”….before the craziness even gets started.

  • Yes, acceptance. When you got that down you’ll calm down, think, plan and DO. Very good. Got to remember that when people start to panic, deny, ridicule, etc.

  • I have lived in a van since December of 1984, with the exception of the 50 months that I was a longhaul truck driver. Vandwelling is essentially living in a big bug out bag on wheels. Everything is always gathered and ready to relocate. Along with always being ready to bug out, I have already accepted the inevitability of the need to. Since adverse weather is a frequent reason to bug out, I simply schedule my bug outs based on changes in the weather wherever I am. Those who own an RV have only to stock it and keep it stocked to be almost as close to bugging out as I live.
    Much can be learned about preparedness from reading Vonulife by Rayo.

  • I think I’ll change your three steps to:
    1. Acceptance
    2. Plan
    3. Execute

    My brain works better with acronyms. So now I can remember that I’m going to go APE with my prepping.

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