Wednesday, October 3, 2018

What Exactly is Self-Reliance?


I talk a lot about self-reliance for two reasons. First, I think self-reliance is absolutely fundamental to what we are doing as preppers and survivalists. Without developing self reliance, all our other preparations will simply be useless. Second, I get the feeling the average person today doesn't have much self-reliance, and doesn't even understand what it is. So, what exactly is self-reliance? 

Before I try to explain what self-reliance is, let me take a moment to first explain what it is not. Self-reliance isn't about not needing other people. That is self-sufficiency, and is probably impossible to truly achieve. No matter how self-reliant we are, there will be times that we need others.  Having said that, let's move on to what self-reliance really is...

A quick dictionary definition of self-reliance is "Reliance on one's own capabilities, judgment, or resources; independence." This definition is from The Free Dictionary. A nice enough definition, as far as it goes, but it really doesn't explain exactly what is meant by self-reliance.

John McCann, in his book Practical Self-Reliance, does a better job of defining self-reliance: "self-reliance is being able to do as much as we can without outside assistance." Better, but it still falls far short of explaining exactly what self-reliance is.

There are lots of facets to the concept of self-reliance. A lot has been written on the subject, from Ralph Waldo Emerson's essay Self-Reliance, to John D. McCann's aforementioned book Practical Self-Reliance. Here is my attempt to boil down the thoughts of those men, myself, and others on the topic into seven foundational points:

1- Assume responsibility for your own life. Don't wait around for  others to take care of you. Take care of yourself without waiting for the government or anyone else to take care of you. Also, don't sit around whining that life is unfair, or that other's have it so much better than you. Instead, get off your a** and do something about it. You are in charge of your life, so act like it.

2- Take the blame for your own life. Don't scapegoat others. Don't "pass the buck." If you are blaming someone else, you are not being self-reliant. Even when things happen that seem beyond your control - such as being robbed, being laid-off, or even your house burning down - you are still in control of how you react to those things.

3- Be informed. It is your responsibility to find out the facts and information you need to make informed decisions. Keep up with current events, especially on the local level. Keep up with the trends in your industry. Know where to get information. Ask questions. Be a lifelong learner. Remember the acronym ASK - Always Seek Knowledge.

4- Know where your going. Know what you want. What are your goals? What is your purpose? What do you hope to accomplish? Don't just drift through life. Think. Know yourself. Plan ahead.

5- Make your own decisions. Don't let others run your life for you - and that especially includes the government. Don't worry about what others think of you. Don't worry about being politically correct or socially acceptable. Don't give in to peer pressure. Don't just "go along to get along." Be informed of the issues, and decide for yourself. Be independent.

6- Learn skills. The more skills you have, the more self-reliant you can be. And by skills, I don't just mean various homesteading, bushcraft, and country skills so popular with most preppers, but other skills as well, including mechanical skills, computer skills, negotiating skills, business skills, financial skills, budgeting skills, leadership skills, networking skills...

7- Gain experience. Experience gives you wisdom. Knowledge learned from books, classrooms, and videos, is often theoretical. Theoretical knowledge may turn out to be wrong, incomplete, or impractical. Skills can be learned under perfect conditions. But real life tends to be messy, not perfect. Your skills may be challenged by difficult conditions or a lack of resources. Nothing beats actual real world experience. Find ways to gain that experience.


Remember:  The single most important thing you can do to survive any future chaos is to start taking responsibility for your own life now. This is self-reliance.
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