Saturday, December 14, 2019

Developing a Self-Reliant Mindset: What, Why, and How

By Timothy Gamble

In a dystopian world that is and will be experiencing an unknown amount of economic hardships, political chaos, social upheaval, and imminent danger, we will not have the luxury to depend on "good times," the government, our parents, or society at large to help us have good, stable and successful lives. We are going to have to do that for ourselves. We have to be as self-reliant as possible.

To be self-reliant, we must gain knowledge, learn skills, and take responsibility for ourselves and our families. The single most important thing you can do to survive any future chaos is to start taking responsibility for your own life now.

First and foremost, you must develop a self-reliance mindset. This means taking responsibility for your own life, not waiting for others to do it for you. Remember New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina? Remember all those people standing around in knee-deep water waiting for the government or someone else to help them? That is called "learned helplessness." Don't be like them. Instead, develop "learned self-reliance."

What exactly is self-reliance, you ask?  I've identified seven foundational points of self-reliance:
  1. Assume responsibility for your own life. 
  2. Take the blame for your own life. 
  3. Be informed. 
  4. Know where your going. 
  5. Make your own decisions. 
  6. Learn skills. 
  7. Gain experience.  
I go into each of these points in more detail in my article What Exactly is Self-Reliance?.

Developing Self-Reliance (1951)

Take responsibility for your own life and success. Your company isn’t going to protect you. The government is going to take care of you. And your family and friends have enough problems of their own.

Taking responsibility means doing what needs to be done, not just what is fun or what you want to do. Taking responsibility means not waiting around for others to do it for you. Taking responsibility means not assuming if you don’t do it then someone else will. Be proactive.

If you know your company or industry is struggling, don’t wait for them to “downsize” you before you start looking for work. Get moving - polish up your resume now, start networking and making contacts & inquires, before you lose your job (see my article What To Do Before Losing Your Job).

If your entire industry is struggling, don’t wait for it to implode. Start thinking about what new industry you might want to move to, and start learning the new skills you will need and making contacts in that industry. Consider developing a side-business now, so that you will at least have that to fall back on. You may even be able to turn it into a full-time career.

On the job, the more knowledge and skills you have the less likely you are to be let go in “cost saving” efforts. And if you are let go, the more knowledge and skills you have the quicker you will be able to find new work. Don’t just limit yourself to the skills needed for your current job. Learn other skills as well. Learn bookkeeping/accounting. Develop computer skills. Learn a foreign language (particularly if your company/industry does a lot of business with non-English speakers). Learn how to sell, even if that's not your current job.

In your personal life, learn how to manage your finances. Learn how to live on a budget. Develop the skills of a smart consumer. This means reducing your expenses, and living within your means (a budget or spending plan is an excellent tool for achieving this goal). Setting aside an ample emergency fund is also very important. Pay off your credit cards and consumer loan debt. Avoid new debt. (My recent article, Financial Preparedness: Back to the Basics , may be of interest.)

Learn how to raise and preserve some of your own food. Get into homesteading. Learn how to do the routine maintenance on your car. Learn the basics of home maintenance. Develop Do-It-Yourself skills. Accumulate a good tool kit. Learn to sew. Learn how to eat healthy and how to take care of your health. Learn first aid & CPR. There is a multitude of everyday skills that you can learn in order to be more self-reliant.

Stay informed of current affairs. Pay attention to the news. News aggregation websites, like Whatfinger News, Liberty Mill, and Prepper Website, are worth checking out at least daily. Reading your state or local newspaper (or  at least visiting their websites) will help you keep up with news and events closer to you. News websites I trust include Breitbart News, The Washington Times, Voice of Europe, and American Military News. The only decent cable news network is now FOX Business.

Understand how the world really works. Learn real history and economics, not the biased indoctrination they feed you in public schools. For a list of good history books, see my Real History Book list. Also, check out the #HistoryHub portion of My news and politics website,

Difference Between Self-Reliance and Self-Sufficiency

John McCann, in his book, Practical Self-Reliance, gives a great definition of self-reliance, and how it differs from self-sufficiency:
In my opinion, self-reliance is being able to do as much as we can without outside assistance.... On the other hand, self-sufficiency is the ability to maintain oneself without outside aid, being able to provide for all of one's needs. Unfortunately, in today's world, we must live with a dependence or inter-dependence on others. In the pioneer days people could not produce everything they needed and had to rely on others for supplies they could not furnish. Even mountain men went to rendezvous in order to sell their furs and purchase needed supplies. They were both very self-reliant, but not self-sufficient.
Is Self-Reliance Selfish?

Self-reliance is not anti-social or selfish. It does not mean shutting yourself off from your friends or community. It certainly doesn't mean heading for the hills and hiding, heavily armed, in a secret compound until after some dread doomsday comes to pass.

If you have ever listened to a flight attendant give emergency instructions, you may have noticed that they tell parents traveling with a child to put the oxygen mask on themselves first, before putting one on their child. The airlines don't say that because they hate children. Instead, they say that because if a parent is to help their child, they must first be able to do so. A parent unconscious from the lack of oxygen will be of absolutely no help to their child.

Likewise, we will be of little help to our family, friends and neighbors, if we are the ones in need of help ourselves. In fact, our own helplessness may make matters much worse for our community. Far from being selfish, building self-reliance may be one of the most generous things you can do. 

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

Practical Self-Reliance - Reducing Your Dependency On Others, by John McCann. Whether you live in the city, suburbs, or country, you can practice self-reliant methods of living. This book is an in depth look at practical ways you can reduce your dependency on others, and work towards a life of self-reliance. It includes sections on obtaining, preserving, storing, and preparing food, recycling and repurposing, skills and tools of the trade for self-reliance, getting out of debt, the importance of water, lighting and alternative power, sanitation and hygiene, staying warm and cool, transportation options, and more. For anyone who wants to work towards being self-reliant, this book, with over 250 photos and diagrams, offers many helpful suggestions and ideas.

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