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By August 22, 2012 Read More →

Real People Do Get Scared!

Okay, it finally happened!  When in a crisis or during an extremely difficult time, it is natural to feel anxious and scared. The important thing to do is to try to keep calm.  You can reassure your family members with phrases such as, “We are all still together, I won’t leave you alone,” or “You don’t have to worry I will look after you.”   We will get through this.” Tell them what has happened and let them know what you are doing about it, what you can do about it and also what you can’t do about it.  This is the time when practice sessions for your emergency preparedness really pay off.   But will it honestly work?   Maybe …

It is okay to admit that there are some things you cannot control, resolve or bring to an end.  You just have to cope as best you can.

I was home alone, during the Loma Prieta 7.2 earthquake.  And I can still vividly recall the conversation I was having with myself,  as the floor pitched and rolled under me:  “Calm down Barbara. You have to find your shoes, Barbara.  Try to calm down, Barbara.  Think!  What is it you have to do?  CALM DOWN, BARBARA!  Don’t scream – yet,” and so on.  At that point I was beyond being scared silly, me the one who was supposed to be prepared.  Yes, I was a total basket case. My bones had turned to Jell-O.  My fear factor was about 3500 on a scale of 1 to 1500.

And so I repeat, you just have to cope as best you can.

 In a disaster, a few thoughts might be helpful to you,  if you have survived and have entered into the aftermath segment. Communication is a key during such situations.  Let your family members talk about what they are feeling.  Listen to their worries and dispel as many as you can, while still allowing them to deal with reality.  And it’s OK to tell them “it’s Ok to be afraid when you don’t know what is going on.”  Just try to control absolute panic and terror. Sometimes the most important thing is to just be able to talk.  One of the best things to do is to try to stick to what is “normal” as much as possible.  Fixing “meals,” washing hands, saying prayers or reading stories:  simple habits emphasized during difficulties create calmness.  Decide before the need arises to make normalcy a priority.

You may have heard the quote or something similar to, “If You Are Prepared You Won’t Fear.”  Many times this statement is quoted with emphatic pronouncement (inferred) that if you have your 10,000 pounds of wheat under the bed (literary license taken here!), that you will (or should be) be as calm as the wind in the eye of a tornado when your disaster descends.

There is a great deal of difference between peace, confidence and the ability to move forward, doing the required tasks to get through a chaotic situation and the perceived state of euphoria while singing “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” as the other side of that tornado comes at you full force.

At midnight, the night of that Big One, mentioned above, I sat on the floor in the middle of the rubble in our living room.  As the floor and I continued to shudder, I wrote in my journal by camping-lantern light, while tears streamed down my face.  Prayers are answered and calmness comes … eventually.

Just remember, try to be practical in your preparedness coping as best you can.

Yep, I have to admit it even though we were “mostly prepared”;  I was still very frightened, trying to cope “as best I could”.

I want to make sure that you understand that it is okay to be frightened while being prepared.  I also want to make sure you understand that preparedness is part of my DNA.

Many times we, (You and I) as well as many others, may have questioned, or struggled with the enormity of being prepared.  Or perhaps we have not been able to find the creativity to pursue the work and effort required to be prepared.  Or maybe we’ve just not been able to find the extra money that we thought it required.  Whatever the reasons might be for not being prepared to take care of ourselves during the crises that come into our lives – I would like to suggest to you that none of them matter!

Now that is a pretty strong statement.  But it is a very real statement.  None of those reasons matter!  Let me tell you why.

In my opinion, the principle of being prepared may just be the simple principle of being so committed to reach the goal (whatever that might be for you) that you will study, find resources, share resources with others, be enthused, and try and try again.  Consistency, even with a small, small amount will eventually add up!

It has been my constant experience and that of my family, that over the years as we have struggled to be prepared, even when there was no visible money, even when there was no visible pantry space, no seemingly possible ways or means to obtain the commodities needed to fill our shelves  …  “preparedness” always happened. Being prepared became a way of life.  Finding sales to stretch one dollar to five-dollars’ worth of buying power happened.  Learning to glean fields while living in the middle of LA, CA happened.  Friends who would share special deals that they received happened.  On and on the miracles followed.  Not the parting of the sea for us, just seemingly slowly, seemingly impossible, until when one of our many crises and personal disasters descended we were always able to provide for our family.  Our shelves were full enough to take care of us at each particular time.  (Enough is a critical term that you need to understand.  I’ll write more about it later.)

When you are doing the very best you can with the resources you have to be prepared, just hang in there, keep trying and realize that when the time comes to be scared or a disaster descends, you will have the ability to get through.

In an article about preparedness this may sound like sermon #3. It is!



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8 Comments on "Real People Do Get Scared!"

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  1. stevenswilkins says:

    Real People Do Get Scared! then those Real People Do Survive. it’s been proven to be true. many times over.

    • f jacobs says:

      I have been in and around several natural disasters (medivac nurse for 14 yrs) and you never stop being fearful, but your preparedness gives you the skills to be able to still move & do what you can. (I still think the earth moving under me is the one that makes me most fearfull, beause you realize you have NO control) i still remember being in an earthquake in Kobe Japan as a young child, and can still to this day, see the waves the air makes when the earth moves in certain ways! And believe me I couldnt move, I just felt like an ant hanging on the the ground for all I was worth! When a disaster is happening we cope in many ways both b4, during and after.(once you learn this) It will help you learn how (for y it was your verbal self directing) to function/cope & use it as an advantage. This is all part of why we prepare. Thank you for sharing

  2. I was in San Bernardino during Northridge, Big Bear/ Landers and other assorted shakers, there is no way to mentally prepare for the rocking and rolling of good old earth! LOL I was in the doorway, trying not to scream and the dogs were under the coffee table. It all worked out ok but it took an awful lot of “self-discussion” to get things settled down in my own head to turn off the gas and get to a safer place. My inner ear is still screwy because of those quakes. You offer some really good advise, thank you for taking the time to write the article!

  3. Charles Hill says:

    We don’t prep because we’re afraid. We prep so we don’t have to be afraid!

  4. Charles Hill says:

    No matter how preppared you think you are, your never ready to deal with a disaster. However; “it’s only an emergency the first time it happens, after that, it’s just an inconvienance”



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