Friday, June 6, 2014

The Slippery Slope of Prepping

Not actually Erin.
Picture by KJ Photography
& is used with permission. 
For the past few weeks I have been in the process of clearing the junk out of my father's bedroom. No, he's not dead, although my mom and I did figure that we wouldn't be able to clear out the crap until after he had passed.  Thankfully, all that happened was that he fell and broke his hip. It required surgery and physical therapy, so while he is recovering in a rehab facility we are clearing paths so that his walker can fit and he will not fall while going to the bed or the toilet.

Yes, I said paths, plural. My father has always been to some degree a hoarder, and that tendency has only gotten worse with age. There are boxes and boxes and boxes of old papers that need to be disposed of -- mostly financial records, many of which are 10+ years old and some which stretch back to the 1980s, no lie -- as well as several hundred pounds of hardcover books. I kid you not, there is a four foot by seven foot area of his bedroom which is completely full of papers, boxes, and dusty clothes, and this area is directly in front of his dresser and chest of drawers.
This is AFTER we cleared away two chairs and at least 6 banker's boxes. 
Where he keeps his socks and underwear I don't know, as I have no idea how he gets to anything anymore.

What does this have to do with Prepping? 

I've long suspected that folks who are preppers have similar psychological characteristics:
  • We are worried about the future
  • We like to have things "just in case"
  • We like having our gear nearby and accessible
In short, we're all potential hoarders. It's very easy for preparation to go from hobby to lifestyle choice to obsessive behavior, just as it's easy to go from "Wanting to stay informed" to "Oh God what's happening now" to "I must keep on top of things so that when things go bad at a moment's notice -- and they will -- I will have enough time to do something about it."

When does it become a problem?

As I am not you, I cannot tell you definitively when your prepping has taken a left turn into crazytown. All I can do is list some of the signs I've noticed within myself and others. 
  • Do you lie awake at night worrying about all the preps you DON'T have?  
    • Prepping is supposed to bring you peace, not create panic. 
    • Secure your future by thinking about what you can accomplish today instead of tomorrow. 
  • Do you feel compelled to make poor financial decisions just to buy gear or acquire preps?
    • A key component of prepping is being financially prudent. If you're bankrupt, you are unprepared for now, so how can you care for yourself or your family in the future?
    • Make a list of things you know you will buy and then watch for sales. In all probability you will be able to acquire that gear before disaster arrives, and without going into debt for it. 
  • Do you feel you must be ready at all times and in all places for anything?
    • It is good to be ready, but there is a distinct difference between "being ready" and "worrying so much you become paranoid." If you refuse to leave the house without a ton of gear, your gear has become a crutch and/or a fetish. 
    • Acquire more skills and gain more confidence so that you can get by with less. 
  • Do you have so much stuff that it is adversely affecting your quality of life?
    • If prepping is making you unhappy, STOP.  Take time off to decompress. Consider it a mental vacation -- your preps will still be there when you get back. 
    • Being constantly unhappy is not living, it is merely existing. A positive mental attitude is required for survival -- constant unhappiness means you are cultivating a losing strategy. 
  • Do you feel like you must constantly do more, more, more?
    • Your lifestyle has become an obsession. See above. 
    • In short:

Preparation should serve YOU.
NEVER put yourself in service to preparation. 

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