When times get tough and you are suddenly faced with fast-paced change and a need to immediately think on your feet, how do you go about doing so? Do you take the time to think about the situation at hand or do you instead let adrenaline take over? Are your actions planned and deliberate or hasty and not well thought out?
It is easy to get caught up in the moment when things are quickly happening around you. Fear causes people to react like they might not have in an ordinary situation, as does stress. Staying calm and levelheaded sounds nice but is harder for some of us than others. As a cold chill comes over you and you experience a fight or flight reflex originating deep in your gut, it is hard to slow down and think rationally. Even when you are on edge, remaining rational is what can make or break you. It is our actions in high stress situations that will play a large part in determining the outcome. Do you analyze what is happening before acting or do you let adrenaline overpower all thought processes and go with what it suggests you do? The latter of these choices will only get you so far, and might even get you killed. Even in times of stress and fear it is important to stop and think. Acting hastily may seem like the right choice at the time, but running blind and scared can take you to a place you really do not want to be.
When the world around you starts to crumble and fear begins its takeover, I implore you to simply STOPP. You do not have to become a sitting duck or even a sacrificial lamb, but you do need to get a grip on yourself and plot the best course of action. Impulse, while tough to overcome, is probably not the road to pursue. Instead, follow the STOPP program.
STOPP is an acronym for scenarios like when the SHTF. It is a guide to help you relax and decide rationally how to proceed. There are some variations for what the letters in the acronym mean, but here is a general overview:
S stands for stop and/or stay calm. Instead of freaking out and jumping into action, stop what you are doing, or considering doing, and take a few calm moments to mull things over.
T represents the thinking that you need to do to determine your best course of action. Rather than acting rashly, allow yourself some time, even if only minutes, to ponder what is going on around you and what you need to do about it.
O stands for observe, which is what you should do before taking your own actions. Observe what others are doing. Observe risks and rewards. Observe actions and consequences.
P #1 is for plan, which is what you need to have. If you do not already have one, take the time to make one. Compile all the information you gathered during the steps above and make a plan before moving forward.
P #2 stands for proceed, which is what you will ultimately need to do, but hopefully will not do until you have thought things over with a clear head and come up with a plan to move forward, evade, and survive.
It behooves you to not rush into anything until you are aware of the risks and benefits associated with the actions you wish to take. You want to calculate the best and most efficient way to arrive at your goal safely before setting out. Risks are likely to be present, but planning ahead will help you avoid and reduce them. Always watch the signs around you and prepare to find a better way to survive. Take the time to evaluate risks and how to minimize or ideally eliminate them. There is a reason the guy who goes first has it hardest and that is because he lacked the benefit of being able to learn from the mistakes of others. Don't be that guy. STOPP instead.