The Persuasive Prepper: Convincing Loved Ones to Prepare

If you are a prepper, chances are that you have friends and family who consider you anywhere on the “nuts” scale from a bit eccentric to downright certifiable.

This viewpoint, of course, makes it very difficult for you to talk with these loved ones and bring them over to the “dark side” of preparedness with you.  It’s painful to see people about whom you care, blithely going along, spending money frivolously, buying their groceries a couple of days at a time, and living in places that are totally unsustainable should disaster strike.

Why People Won’t Listen

It’s important to understand why your loved ones see the world through rose-colored glasses.  While they are busy casting mental health disorder epithets your way, it is actually the people who refuse to accept reality who are suffering from a psychological phenomena called “cognitive dissonance”.

Cognitive dissonance (a phrase coined in the book When Prophecy Fails, by Dr. Leon  Festinger) describes the mental discomfort that a person feels when faced with two diverse values – the reality of a situation and the moral belief system of the person collide. When this occurs, the person must make alterations to one or the other in order to regain his equilibrium. According to Dr. Festinger theory, “people engage in a process he termed “dissonance reduction”, which can be achieved in one of three ways: lowering the importance of one of the discordant factors, adding consonant elements, or changing one of the dissonant factors. This bias sheds light on otherwise puzzling, irrational, and even destructive behavior.”  (source)

It’s very frustrating to watch otherwise intelligent people completely avoid the acceptance of our reality.  Those deep into cognitive dissonance are simply NOT going to come around by hearing you preach to them.  If anything, it will only drive them further away from you.  The concept of, for example, a long term disaster like and EMP or an economic collapse are incomprehensible to them.  Because of this, no matter how fervently you believe these things to be likely in the future, it’s best to water down the reality into manageable bites.

Breaking Them In Gently

Many people find it easier to accept the likelihood of a weather-related disaster that might knock the power out for a few days to a week.  You can easily provide recent examples, like Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy.  For those in regions where events like this occur, you can often persuade your loved ones to stock in at least a 2 week supply.  Other regions are prone to ice storms, snow storms or earthquakes.  This can be a gentle introduction to preparedness.  Clearly, a two week supply is not enough to weather a long-term disaster.  However you may be able to build on this base acceptance and begin to help your loved ones begin to extend their supplies.

Another great tactic is promoting the economic logic behind a well-stocked pantry.  Prices are only going up – it doesn’t take a prepper to see this.  If you can convince someone of the investment value of a food supply, sometimes you can persuade them to prep without them even realizing that is what they are doing.  Then, when that supply comes in handy during a disaster event or a personal period of economic hardship, you can gently reinforce the lesson.

Sending gentle nudges via email is sometimes helpful, but inundating a non-prepper with preparedness advice will generally fall upon deaf ears.  Repetition of preparedness concepts without the scare tactics can help break through the normalcy bias, but it is important to limit yourself within the tolerance level of the person with whom you are communicating.  Remember, you do not want to be the Jehovah’s Witness of preparedness, knocking on the door during dinnertime while the non-prepper pretends not to be home.

Unfortunately, for the most part,  you have to realize there isn’t a lot you can do to convince others that preparing is vital.  People have to come to their own realizations, just the way you did.  You have to accept that constantly harping on preparedness will do nothing more than drive a wedge between you and those you love.

What If They Won’t Listen?

As a prepper, you have to make a difficult decision.  Are you going to prepare for a few extra people, adding supplies and making room for them when the SHTF?  Or are you going to go about your preparedness business quietly, embracing OPSEC and building up your supplies with only your immediate family members in mind?  Some people state that they have no compunction turning away unprepared family members when disaster strikes, because they spent years warning them to get ready.  This is a choice that most preppers have to make, and there are no “one size fits all” answers.  It is important to discuss this among the decision-makers of your household and present a unified front, which ever conclusion you reach.

*****

Have you been able to help friends and family see the writing on the wall?  If so, how were you able to convince them that it was time to get ready?  If not, are you preparing for extra people or are you planning on locking the doors?

 

About the author:

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Daisy Luther is a freelance writer and editor.  Her website, The Organic Prepper, offers information on healthy prepping, including premium nutritional choices, general wellness and non-tech solutions. You can follow Daisy on Facebook and Twitter, and you can email her at daisy@theorganicprepper.ca

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14 Comments  to  The Persuasive Prepper: Convincing Loved Ones to Prepare

  1. Trudi says:

    I found your blog tonight by searching ‘how to make organic cottage cheese’ of all things, and now, am hooked! I like your honesty, ideas, and most importantly, common sense! I’m a believer in being prepared. Always have a stocked pantry, a full tank of gas etc…you just never know.

    Thanks.

  2. Prepped in CT says:

    I have tried and tried and tried to get my family on board…It’s like talking to the wall. Actually, talking to the wall is better because the wall doesn’t talk back.

    I believe a lot of it is the part of the country I live in. I am an expatriated Southerner, and most of the time here (CT)I feel like i’m speaking in a language that no one else understands, esp. my husband (a born and bred Yankee for generations).

    So I prepare quietly. I have things stashed all over our house…the attic (he never goes in the attic); underneath the ping pong table and his classic train set in the basement (I made curtains for underneath, told him it looked better).

    I mean honestly, most people prepping have the at least tepid support of a significant other. Try prepping when the person who lives with you doesn’t want you to do it.

    I keep telling myself he’ll thank me later. LOL

  3. Claymation says:

    I heard a term once called “Consensus Consciousness,” it is a term relating to mob mentality. Basically If I think and act like my neighbor and they are thinking and acting like their neighbor, how can we all be wrong? Singly, a person is easy to talk to and even get them to see thing from your POV, but once back in the community that enables the individual to become part of the collective mindset again, they are allowed and encouraged to think like the herd. I am betting if a survey was done in NYC and NJ asking respondents if they are prepared for the next big emergency, most would say no, but they plan on working on it in the next 6 months. Unfortunately, those six months are always 6 months away. Peace Clay

  4. G Rider says:

    @Daisy. I’ve been following your site for a few weeks now, it’s full of great info. Keep up the good work.

    I can sypathize with Prepped in CT, my wife wants no part of my prepping. She understands why I do it but doesn’t take an active part. I do not press her about it, I do however give her information every so often to help her see what is really happening around us. It’s a slow process, but eventually I believe it will pay off. I use the same tactic with my extended family. For instance: “Hey did you hear Cyprus is going to start confiscating portions of savings accounts, that’s scary, think it can happen here?” This usually gets some kind of conversation started. Half of them get it, the other half…. not so much.

    As for any discussions with friends. No chance of getting any of them to see the light. They are too much a part of the flock. They have no idea I’m a prepper. And I plan on keeping it that way. :)

  5. Melissa says:

    I feel your pain… My hubs had at least been passively on board as long as he got to buy whatever guns and ammo he wanted but now that we can’t even find 22 ammo, he has decided its a waste. You would think it would only reinforce the need to be prepared but no… Now that he can’t have his fun its a waste for me to stock anything.
    I ignore him and do it anyways citing that I could always buy a $400 purse or those super cute $200 ballet flats when I get the urge for some retail therapy rather than scouring thrift stores and hunting down homestead, survival and Prepper supplies or organizing our pantry.
    As far as others go… My friends agree with the need but Won’t act on it, they are full of excuses. They all know I am a Prepper (I have 3 people my friends) and their kids are my God children so I account for them as well.
    Though my standard rule is that if you think I’m crazy now then you are crazy if you think I am going to help you later. I am more than willing to help any and everyone get prepared for whatever but if they laugh at me now I will be the one with the last laugh :)

  6. DiMarco says:

    Evening, your article is linked from activistpost within another article…good find. I can sympathize with the couples here…I’m now separated from my wife after prepping for years. I have an academic background in political economics and the signs and paul reveres were there if you were listening. I still believe people have time to prep, though the bullets are way expensive, still plenty of beans and bandages to buy.
    Good luck, and remember, God helps those who help themselves…for you have heard and seen the hard times ahead…and acted accordingly. Iustia omnibus.

  7. NiMH says:

    Ahem…. For stubborn families.
    Start with the first aid kit. It’s easy, go cut yourself doing some crap on the weekend (a rosebush accident?), and when they bring the kit, start really analyzing it, the plastic scissors suck and couldn’t cut through a typical pair of jeans maybe those harbor freight scissors are better? Oh look we could use more bandages, what if two if us had wounds at the same time and not hospitals like katrina? Do we need to actually put some ASPRIN in the kit? Or is it good enough on the coffee table. What about other drugs? on and on… I would stay away from the expensive kits and BUY individual items. On the other hand starting with a basic kit if you have nothing, is a great way to keep it all together. IF you are going to put prescription drugs in the kit, I would NOT put that kit in a CAR where it can be stolen or taken by cops. Maybe car’s need to have SAFE’s now?

    The food thing you can trick them is the best way, “Oh I really love that chili, how about a CASE? Wouldn’t that be cheaper?” I would love to do the buckets/dry food thing, but clearing 9′ space is impossible around here.

    Water.. I am really having trouble with this one. I want a frigging 300 Gallon Tank, but I am not getting it any time soon. I live near a polluted river (4 city blocks away) So maybe a pair of those survival straws in the go bag.

    Energy..
    I manage about 300 watts of solar now, not enough to run a fridge. But enough to power ALL the electronic crap and charge batteries. Yesterday I setup a PirateBox (daviddarts.com) and soon I am getting a couple RM3020′s and gonna give mesh project byzantine a try also.

    The freezer if it ever goes is a NIGHTMARE! In winter you don’t need a fridge, you just need a way to keep varmints out of the food. Technically you could just put it outside. The whole fridge and the power consumption thing vs the super smart expensive 12vdc fridge (which I still don’t have enough solar watts for) is really getting me down. I don’t know why, I just love my ice cubes. I won’t go Gas Generator, the noise will get it stolen. While I am not a physicist I do believe there is some ROOM for development in the power consumption/cooling arena.

    Final thoughts.
    I am not really feeling that good about my preps.
    I am quite frustrated (or even worried) about several things.
    I know the only way to kill worry is knowledge. Maybe I can mitigate the food and water a bit better. Maybe I will find an efficient cooler. Maybe I am just going to die in a FEMA camp.

    I hate the oath breakers who did this. Burn in hell.

    • Daisy says:

      NiMH:

      Some wonderful suggestions there – thank you very much!

      One of my favorite off-grid refrigeration solutions is a Clay Pot Refrigerator. Depending on your climate, this works very well.

      http://readynutrition.com/resources/shtf-survival-clay-pot-refrigeration_22092011/

      I’m sorry that you’re feeling down right now – you are far more prepared than many people around you. The number one preps are stored inside your head. Your skills and abilities can make up for a lack of physical items in many cases. Hang in there and please, keep contributing! :)

      Daisy

  8. Marg says:

    As a mother of five adult children, this has been very frustrating. Only one of our five has done any prepping at all. Another one lives in a wooded area and owns a well stocked pond, and could feed himself for awhile. I’ve just all but given up on the other three. I’ve tried and tried to convince them to at least do SOMETHING. I’ve even offered to buy some some basics to get them started. I’ve resorted to buying extras for them when they come knocking on our door. How could anyone turn away their own children and grandchildren? Thanks for posting this as now I see I’m not the only one in this predicament.

    • lateToTheParty says:

      I understand your frustration. Even if we just save money and trouble over the long run, they just don’t want to hear it. I haven’t had to turn away children and grandchildren but both girls know about us stocking up (for ice storms and earthquakes and if a neighbor has a fire …) and I’m certain they would run back to us in a heartbeat if _HTF happens. I have stocked some for them (they don’t know that) but it’s all generic stuff: PB, Jelly, chicken soup, white rice, some cereal and powdered milk, nothing special and personal like the beans/peas my wife loves or the beef jerky I love. If they haven’t listened to me and they don’t like what I’ve stocked for them, i.e. “But you’ve got …”, then I will show them the door and I will not feel any guilt.

  9. wheelerdealer says:

    Wonderful site, I’m glad I found you. As the daughter of a farmer, it’s in my blood, albeit a rather late start and mom is long gone as most of the family. The more I try to stockpile, the more the significant other fights it, goes thru the pantry and tossed 6 bags of canned goods, pasta, beans, etc. to give to the poor because he refuses to eat OLD food. Now I’m going to start canning, been buying up mason jars/lids, etc. Suppose I’ll have to invest in a good pressure cooker/canning pot for lack of proper terms (no caffeine yet?). Can’t deal with the snoop finding all my hiding places in this house and the ignorance from everyone. Hope you are prepared for those who come looking to take what you have as well, stock up on THOSE needs, too!

    • lateToTheParty says:

      Don’t hide, that makes it a fight. By making it a competition, ‘fighting’ him, you are just playing his game. Stop playing his game. Point out he doesn’t have to eat it. In fact, it’s not for him! That’s his job and if he wants to participate in stocking his food, it’s up to him. (That way he can be in charge of how fresh or old his food is.) Does he have anything that you don’t participate in (golf, football, basketball, going out with the boys etc)? If so, just point out that you are doing the same thing but with your preps.

      Another thing you can do is give the preps you have for family as non-holiday gifts (we call ‘em ‘happy’s’ in our house.) Some homemade jelly, some fresh peanut butter and some really good or home made bread – you’re not insulting them i.e. saying that they can’t afford it…, you are making them something reallllly good!And if you throw in a jar of Gif or Hoppy just tell them it’s “in case you decide you don’t like the homemade peanut butter.” Who can argue with someone actually TRYING to make them happier!!

      Take him out of the equation by saying (and doing) “I know you don’t like ‘old’ food, so I’m not saving old food for you!” Turn it on it’s ear – take away any fight. “I’m doing what you want, just let me save for me and (whoever you feel you need to list)…” He can’t complain if you are doing what he wants!And if you are worried about him eating post-_HTF, increase ‘your’ food and he can live with what you eat – the grasshopper can’t complain about eating the ant’s food!

      My wife can’t complain about what little I spend on our _HTF food because over half of it is what she eats anyways. I’m not much of a bean or pea person but she is, so I’ve stocked heavily in Black Eyed Peas (ick), Navy beans (ick), Lima Beans (Major Ick), Purple Hull peas (yuck) and other ‘southern’ delicacies. For me I’m adding black beans, kidney beans, extra beef and chicken jerky, turkey jerky for her, lots of peppers for me along with oats (she hates oats), grits for her… She doesn’t like pasta all that much (nor spaghetti sauce) but she eats rice and potatoes (the second I’m growing in the garden) and I eat rice once in a while. To be fair, I’ve got a good amount of pasta saved for me.

      Although it sounds childish “I’m not gonna stock for you pbbbtttt”, it’s actually him being childish and you are now going to ‘accede’ to him in ‘deference.’ Actually you are saving money and cutting out the stress.

      Just to show you how this works with us, she understands the beans and band-aids but doesn’t get the bullets part (but security has never been her job) so when I planned to used my ‘allowance’ (we each get a specified amount of every pay check to spend on presents for each other and ourselves as we will) to pay for beans and band-aids, she stopped me and said “no that’s house, but bullets, you can pay for those.” So, she’s behind me on 2/3, I’ll take that!

  10. Drover says:

    You can pick your friends, but not your relatives. Sigh.

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