30 September 2011

Prep30: Ultimately, self-reliance should be your goal... but what is it?

Note: This is the concluding post for our initial Prep30 series. We'll continue to periodically add to the series throughout the year, of course. However, we will return to our normal schedule and mix of Self-Reliant Info blog posts starting Monday.

Yesterday's post contrasted being prepared and being paranoid, and concluded with the idea that it may be necessary to become more self-reliant in all areas of your life. But what does being self-reliant really mean? Glad you asked.

So, what is self-reliance? According to Webster, it's "reliance on one's own efforts and abilities." It really is that simple, at the heart of things. Of course, like anything else, there's more to self-reliance. Let's first look at more of what self-reliance consists of.

Being self-reliant means learning ways to provide for your survival and that of your family, and not being dependent solely on others for the basic necessities of life. This is not to say that you must be living off the land as the ultimate "woodsman," or a "survivalist" hunkering down in a bunker awaiting Armageddon. Rather, self-reliance is being prepared, level-headed, and a bit foresighted; it's knowing what you needs you have and then being able to fulfill them.

This is clear enough for the fundamentals to maintain life itself. Suppose you find yourself in a situation without food and water. You must either be able to rely on yourself to provide for those needs from your current surroundings, or to get yourself to a place where you can find food and water. I addition to being necessary for the basics in life, this same requirement for self-reliance extends to all your needs in other areas of life too.

Ultimately, knowing how to accomplish tasks and acquiring the supplies to do them gives you the ability to meet your goals. It's your knowledge, skills, and supplies that gives you options. Greater knowledge gives you  greater choice in actions, which is another way of saying it gives you greater freedom.

Self-reliance also means learning how to draw on your own inner strength and wisdom, which is derived from a Higher Source within each of us, whether you believe that source to be God, the Universe, the Collective Unconscious, etc. My personal path for this learning involves prayer to God in order to divine the best course of action. However, it's equally valid to "go with your gut feelings." No matter what your path is, a key point is to be able to rely upon your decisions... that is, to have confidence and trust in them.

Having looked at what self-reliance is, let's now consider the flip side. Perhaps most importantly, being self-reliant is not absolute, across all aspects of life.

It's highly unlikely that we can provide everything for ourselves, unless we deliberately keep our needs to an absolute minimum (e.g., just subsisting). To be truly and utterly self-reliant, we'd have to consider something like the title character in Robinson Crusoe or Chuck Noland in Cast Away. These characters have to completely fend for themselves for a period of time, epitomizing self-reliance.

Ideally, none of us will face drastic situations like these fictitious ones. In addition, most of us won't consciously subject ourselves to such a thoroughly austere and rigorous lifestyle. Instead, we may choose certain areas of life for which we take most or all responsibility. For some, this may be gardening, fishing, or hunting to be mostly (or perhaps entirely) self-reliant in their food supply. Others may choose to learn self-defense, so that they can be self-reliant in their personal safety. Still others may learn to make their own clothes. The main point is to pick some areas and become self-reliant in them.

Nevertheless, it's important for us to be able to rely on ourselves should the need to live on our own arise. This ability is at the heart of preparedness and survivalism. Such a level of self-reliance doesn't spring into existence fully-formed, of course. It takes a considerable investment of time, learning, and much practice.

In addition to not being absolute, self-reliance is not a mandate either. In other words, just because you know how to make your own clothes, it doesn't mean that you must do so. You can rely on others when and where it makes sense.

It's important for you to look at the time, skill, and monetary aspects of deciding to do it yourself or not. Using our clothing example, maybe it would be cheaper to buy the materials and make your own jeans. However, if it will take you a very long time, especially if that time would be more productive when spent otherwise, then it may make sense for you to simply buy the jeans instead. The important thing is that you can be self-reliant in making your jeans if and when the need arises.

Finally, self-reliance doesn't mean being a loner. That line of thinking stems from putting too much emphasis on the "self" part of self-reliance. In the end, you will still need to interact with a community, or at least with a group of trusted people. It's similar to the previous point above: just because you can life on your own in a self-reliant manner, that doesn't mean that is required. Indeed, support from, and interaction within, a community is what enables use to produce a better lifestyle with less individual effort.

In summary, self-reliance is being able to rely on ourselves and our abilities, but not exclusively. It's tied closely to preparedness in that way, since we need to know how to be self-reliant in all areas of our lives, even if we choose not to do so for each of them. Achieving this knowledge will increase our level of freedom in life.

As mentioned several times above, knowledge and skills are key to success in becoming self-reliant. That's the primary focus of this blog and the resources that I recommend. The next step, of putting this knowledge to use in your life, is up to you.

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