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The Power of Personal Survival Stories

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Here on the Survival Mom blog, some of the most popular articles have been real-life stories of survival. When I wrote my book, Survival Mom: How to Prepare Your Family For Everyday Disasters and Worst Case Scenarios, I included several stories from moms who had survived both natural and personal disasters. When the reviews started coming in, so many people mentioned how they loved these personal survival stories!

Maybe my own interest and fascination with personal stories of survival began back when I was a kid, reading through my Nana’s issues of Reader’s Digest. In most every issue there was a harrowing, exciting tale with titles like, “Alone. Injured. Almost Dead.”, “Free Fall Above Death Canyon”, and “How a Man Survived 438 Days Stuck at Sea.”

Who could resist stories like these?

Listening to survivors tell about life in a war-torn country, eye-witness accounts of an economic collapse, and surviving weeks without electricity is both instructional and inspirational. After all, if this ordinary human being can survive a worst-case scenario, then so can I!

It’s important to know the specific skillsets that made survival possible and the mindset that made the difference between one person surviving while others perished. Survival stories also serve as warnings — What should the survivors have done? What gear would have made survival easier? What mistakes did they make? Is the survival education you’ve received truly up to the type of challenge these people experienced?

image: woman helping another woman symbolic of personal survival stories

4 Reasons Personal Survival Stories are Valuable

Let’s look at how these tales of triumph over adversity serve as powerful sources of instruction, inspiration, motivation, and warnings. I’ll also provide some link to real-life survival stories on the blog.

1) Instruction

Personal survival stories offer practical knowledge and wisdom gained through first-hand experiences. They often reveal the strategies, techniques, and mindset required to navigate through difficult situations. By studying these stories, we can learn vital life skills such as problem-solving, adaptability, resilience, and resourcefulness. These accounts of survival teach us to persevere when faced with seemingly insurmountable challenges.

They’re also a great way to engage kids in preparedness by adapting events to be age appropriate.

2) Inspiration

Real-life survival stories have an extraordinary ability to inspire and uplift us. They showcase the indomitable human spirit and remind us of the extraordinary potential within each of us. When we hear about individuals who have overcome immense hardships, we are encouraged to rise above our own limitations and strive for greatness. Our hope is renewed, reminding us that we too can triumph over adversity.

3) Motivation

Survival stories serve as powerful motivators, fueling our determination to face challenges head-on and achieve our goals. When we witness the strength and courage exhibited by survivors, it ignites a fire within us to take action. We’re reminded that nothing worth achieving comes without effort and perseverance. They encourage us to push through obstacles, setbacks, and self-doubt, knowing that the rewards are often on the other side of adversity. B

4) Warnings

Tales of survival also serve as crucial warnings, reminding us of the dangers and pitfalls that lurk in our world. It could be about:

  • the devastating consequences of reckless behavior,
  • the importance of preparedness in the face of natural disasters,
  • or the dangers of neglecting our health.

If we’re wise enough to reject normalcy bias, we can glean valuable insights that can help us avoid similar circumstances. They’re reminders to be vigilant, make informed decisions, and take responsibility for our actions. By learning from the mistakes and misfortunes of others, we can protect ourselves and our loved ones from unnecessary harm.

Stories from Urban Warfare and Economic Collapse

Selco – Bosnian War Survivor

When Bosnian war survivor, Selco, speaks. People listen. I’ve had the chance to listen to him speak on two occasions. Believe me, when you hear what life was like in Bosnia during the war that spanned three years, you will forever be grateful for such common conveniences as running water and toilets. For more than a year, Selco’s community was in constant danger, food supply lines were cut, and the average citizen, people like you and me, did whatever it took to survive just one more day.

You’ll also be forever cured of wishing for a civil war, as some in the American prepper movement tend to do.

I asked Selco about skills people needed during wartime, and it seems that living by your wits and trusting very few people were key. Sure, knowing how to do a bit of foraging was helpful as was knowing the fine art of bartering to survive, but overall, it was a mental game — a hyper-awareness that the person walking toward you could have you in their crosshairs, just because you are wearing a coat warmer than theirs.

Fernando Aguirre and Argentina’s Economic Collapse

Another survivor I’ve come to know is Fernando Aguirre, known to many preppers as FerFAL. Now living in Europe, Fernando lived through some of the worst days of Argentina’s economic collapses. I’ll never forget his telling of families digging through dumpsters for their meals and his learning to never walk out the door without being armed.

Fernando and I have chatted about the similarities between America’s economy and that of Argentina, prior to and during its collapse, and I’ve been able to ask for his opinions about a few of my prepper plans.

Real-life Survival Stories

On the Survival Mom Blog

Here is a curated list of articles sharing lessons learned by survivors of various disasters and emergencies:

Books about Real-Life Survival Stories

Check out this post for books that tell real-life survival narratives that are rich in detail. They grab your attention and hold it while teaching lessons about nature, historical events, and, yes, survival. It’s hard to pick a favorite!

Wondering How You Can Help Survivors You Know?

Somewhere, at some point in time, you will encounter someone who has lost everything because of a disaster or other emergency. It’s inevitable. Read this post for tips about how to comfort a disaster survivor.

Final Thoughts on the Importance of Personal Survival Stories

Real-life survival stories hold a unique place in our hearts and minds, providing us with instruction, inspiration, motivation, and warnings. Learning from survivors and experts like Selco and Fernando is part of a well-rounded prepper/survival education.

We can all download checklists, spend some money, and feel like we’re prepared. That’s the easy part. Much more difficult is training our minds and having realistic expectations of what a worst-case scenario is like, and one way to do that is to research stories of real-life survivors and seek out lessons from their tales.

There’s no shortage of prepper and survival books and websites, but when a survivor of a disaster talks and tells his or her personal story, it’s another thing altogether. By embracing the lessons embedded within these stories, we can navigate life’s uncertainties with greater wisdom, strength, and determination.

What personal survivor stories have inspired you?

Originally published May 6, 2017, and has been updated and revised.

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I’m the original Survival Mom and for more than 11 years, I’ve been helping moms worry less and enjoy their homes and families more with my commonsense prepping advice.

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