How to prepare your family to survive and thrive in todays uncertain world

Normalcy Bias Gets Us All

Hear-No-Evil-See-No-Evil-Speak-No-EvilMost of us are familiar with the concept of normalcy bias.  For those of you who aren’t, it’s basically a human nature type thing that makes it very hard for us to accept the fact that what is the norm may not be the norm tomorrow.  That since a disaster hasn’t happened to us, it can’t.

One of the most glaring examples of normalcy bias is the Holocaust.  Germans saw the Jews getting herded into trains.  They saw the smoke stacks.

They knew about the camps.  They heard all the rumors about what was happening there.  Jews that hadn’t been taken yet stayed put, in full on denial.

Normalcy bias made it VERY difficult to accept that the folks in power were methodically exterminating the Jews.  It didn’t matter that they didn’t believe.  It was happening, and they had to deal with the aftermath of that.

Yet in many ways we depend on normalcy bias in our daily life.  It’s in the daily expectations we all live with.  We turn the key, the car starts.  We flip the switch, the light goes on.

Until it doesn’t.  Then what?

As preppers dealing with normalcy bias is critical.  The mere fact that we’ve chosen to prepare for the unknown helps with it.  Planning for specific situations and events helps even more.

But it can still hit us.  We’re dealing with decades of life experience that our subconscious wants to believe will go on indefinitely.

Our currency hasn’t collapsed yet, so it won’t.

Our economy hasn’t collapsed yet, so it won’t.

And so on.

We ALL get that feeling sometimes.  On a fairly regular basis I have thoughts about whether my concerns about the economy are really all that bad.

I know intellectually that it is.  That the system as we know it is doomed.  That it’s a mathematical certainty.  And that the folks in charge KNOW it, and are positioning themselves appropriately to benefit from the collapse.

There’s no doubt in my mind.

Until there is!  See, every once in a while that normalcy bias creeps in.  We live our day to day lives, day in and day out, and it’s really easy to slip mentally.  We’re wired that way, so in a sense resisting normalcy bias is resisting human nature.

I have to go over things in my head again and tell myself that yes, it’s going to happen.  I don’t know when, but it will.  And until then, I have to continue to improve my families situation.

And back to the prepping plan I go.

I suspect you experience the same thing from time to time.  Most of us do.

Unfortunately, most of the folks around us suffer from massive normalcy bias.  It’s the main reason why the system is able to hang on.  If the populace at large, world wide even, actually understood what was going on there would be revolt everywhere.

But instead, the media soothes us, the politicians lie to us, and the bankers fleece us.  And we take it because it’s how it’s always been.

Yet that’s a lie too.  It hasn’t always been like that.  But we were educated (wrongly, yet intentionally) to “know” that it was.

Is it any wonder that our national elections are a choice between 100mph or 80mph towards the cliff?

Or between a guy who wants to give away $10 Trillion vs a guy who wants to give away $8 Trillion, all put on the National Credit Card of course.

At this point your focus has to be on two things.  First, keeping a hold of your own normalcy bias.

Keep your eye on the ball, and when that twinge comes from the back of your head saying that “nah, this is all overblown” acknowledge it, and remind yourself that no, it’s not.

Then educate.  Teach your kids.  Teach your family.  Teach your neighbors and friends.  Don’t preach, but teach.  When you run into the sacred cows and get them all riled up, back off.  Switch to something else.

Use something simple to understand to start breaking down that normalcy bias.  Sandy is a good recent example to use.  Talk about how that was predictable and you could have prepared for it.

Adapt it to local concerns.  Maybe you’re in earthquake country, or maybe in a flood zone.  Perhaps you’re subject to random winter weather.  Who knows.

Stay away from politics and things that could be considered conspiracy theories.  Which, by the way, most of our economic concerns are brushed off as.  Don’t engage in political debates.

When folks recognize that specific event can happen and impact them personally, and you teach them how to deal with it, they naturally become more open to other areas of prepping.

And that’s where you continue to improve your educational efforts.  Gently!

You can’t convert everyone.  But you can convert those close to you.  And if we all do what we can, everyone is better off.

In closing, there’s one more thing I’d like to address.  I know I’ve been guilty in the past of referring to folks that are off in the dark as “sheeple” … and that term is pretty common in survivalist and prepping circles.

I’m making an effort to remove that term from my vocabulary and I hope that you do too.  Usually the “sheeple” term is really directed at people that live in the dark, solidly planted in normalcy bias.

But since I know that even folks that have been prepping for years and years can get hit by normalcy bias, is it really fair to call the masses a term that is considered derogatory by most folks who use it?

I look at my wife who didn’t prep before she knew me.  Yet she’s one of the smartest, world-wise individuals that I know.  Some of the best common sense out there.  And definitely the prettiest woman out there, but I digress.  Should I call her a “sheeple” because she was stuck in normalcy bias?  Nope.

Or my parents, who really started taking this stuff seriously when Dad lost his job several years ago … is it fair to call them that?

Besides, if your neighbors heard you calling them “sheeple,” what would that do to your efforts to educate and make them aware, or even convince them to prep themselves?

And honestly, it doesn’t even take them hearing you call them that.  If you consider someone with contempt internally, that feeling will come out externally when you’re dealing with them.

So don’t do it.  Remember that you were in their shoes once.  Educate, educate, educate.  Help them learn, help them start.

Just don’t be contemptuous to their face or otherwise.

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3 Responses to Normalcy Bias Gets Us All

  1. Yes I was one of the “Sheeple”. Then Y2K came along and I woke up, but before I knew it I went back to grazing with the flock till Hurricane Katrina hit, then I woke up again. From time to time I can hear myself via the normalcy bias going, “Baaahhhhh”, but a good self slap to the face snaps me out of it. Sometimes it is how one uses terms like “Sheeple” that can get a preparedness conversation going. For example, wife and I are listening to the news, they start to talk about how 20% of the population knows nothing about the Fiscal Cliff, I let out a, “because they are Sheeple, Baaaahhhh”. Wife then asks me, “What do you mean by Sheeple and what is the Fiscal Cliff” (all the while sounding like a lamb trying to talk human). From here I get to educate her on what is going on in the world, how the government is falling apart (though her God-send was elected back in) and how come next year that big tax return we get will most likely be cut down to 2/3 to 1/2 of what we usually get. This gives her something to go on, but still she is set in her own normalcy bias that Chipotle’s will always be there. For you, because your words are of true wisdom, I will be more selective in my use of the word, “Sheeple” to make sure I don’t sound anything close to a condescending liberal.

  2. My ex used to say that she wouldn’t want to live in a world where Starbucks wasn’t just five minutes away. Guess why she’s my ex!

  3. I really liked this article. I have been able to get my Mother to take some steps because I came to her with love and concern, not frustration or contempt. I think a lot of people honestly just don’t know any better. Prepping can be explained in a very positive way. It’s taking care of your family in an emergency, being a better citizen by reducing the burden on our government, and it’s a great way to deal with the anxiety of our uncertain times. I prefer to DO S0METHING than just complain or worry. We need to rise above politics and work together to do what’s best for our family and country. Thanks for the great article.