12 Ways Your Beliefs Threaten Your Ability to be Self-Reliant

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We preppers like to talk about self-reliance and independence, don’t we? And, perhaps, we achieve a bit of that when it comes to growing our own food, preparing for power outages, and storing water for emergencies. However, there are more threats to self-reliance to address than those, and they come in the form of what we believe.

Indeed, for all our prepping, we can still be very much chained by habits and mindsets that are much harder to change than just snagging a few extra cans of soup every trip to the grocery store.

The good news is we can change, and the first step toward transformation is awareness. Take an honest look at the following list.

Which beliefs are hindering you in your journey toward a more self-reliant, self-sufficient lifestyle?

image: woman holding up hand against threat to self-reliance

12 Threats to Self-Reliance

1. Debt

Get rid of debt. When my husband and I paid off the last credit card a few years back, I cannot tell you how great it was to finally be free of that financial burden and threat to the self-reliance we desired. With two vehicles that are paid off as well, we only have our mortgage each month, and my goal is to have that paid off within 10 years. We applied Dave Ramsey’s popular money management system from his very easy-to-read book The Total Money Makover, and soon were free of debt with savings in the bank as well.

TAKE THE NEXT STEP: Declaring financial independence isn’t easy and takes time, but every little bit helps. Persistence and especially consistency pays off, even if you save just $1 a day or use something like this 52 Week Savings Plan. (Hint: You can start this plan any time of the year. Just get started!)

2. Chemicals

Free your household from chemicals. I’m not an enemy of all chemicals but most consumers mindlessly purchase products for cleaning, personal care, our pets, pest elimination, and even food without checking the ingredients. And, all too often, those ingredients are words we can’t even pronounce, much less understand how they might impact our health.

For many years, the #1 cleaning product in my house was simple white vinegar. I mix it in a big bucket with some water to mop my floors, used it on countertops, tabletops. For an all-purpose cleaning spray, I fill a spray bottle with half water and half vinegar. Easy-peasy!

You can also increase your independence from questionable chemical additives by making your own lotions, lip balms, toothpaste, pet treats, and soap.

TAKE THE NEXT STEP: Try your hand at making your own all-natural soap.

3. Undesirable Food Ingredients

Along those same lines, establish food freedom and set yourself and your family free from preservatives, high fructose corn syrup, excessive sodium, and other undesirable ingredients in your food. Take a look at what is in your grocery cart and if most of it is processed, figure out ways to make those same foods from scratch but with wholesome ingredients.

This is so much easier than you might think.

Years ago I went on a from-scratch-cooking kick and was amazed by how simple it was and how I could adjust recipes to suit my own taste, include in-season produce, and, in general, tweak recipes in multiple ways. I’ve written about using a no-recipe cooking method for soups and casseroles and suggest giving it a try. There’s no need to ingest ingredients that food production companies decide to add to their products when those ingredients are unhealthy.

Growing your own food, learning to preserve it by canning and/or dehydrating, and even raising chickens and bees (both are entirely possible in the suburbs) are all ways of declaring independence and increasing self-reliance at the same time.

TAKE THE NEXT STEP: A super simple way to begin removing additives and preservatives from your food is to make your own spices and seasonings.

4. Public Education

Take a long, hard look at how you might get your children out of the public education system. Even though I was a classroom teacher for several years and then I trained teachers for an additional 4 more years, I’m not a big fan of public schools. I’ve homeschooled our kids from kindergarten through their senior year — my daughter just graduated from high school as a homeschooler — and I wouldn’t change a thing.

When you homeschool, you remove your kids from “the matrix”, as I call it. They are free to become their own, independent-minded individuals, free to explore their God-given interests and talents, free from daily, intense peer pressure (and sometimes bullying), and this sets the entire family free from the demands of public school.

Our family has enjoyed the freedom to travel, visit relatives, and vacation throughout the year, not just during the summer months. Some years we’ve spent less than $200 on school books and supplies, other years more, but that was by choice of curriculum, special classes, sports, etc. Homeschooling can be VERY budget-friendly.

TAKE THE NEXT STEP: Homeschooling can start any time of the year. So begin by reading through some my articles about homeschooling — how to get started, the curriculum I use, etc.

5. Grocery Bill

Reduce your grocery bill. Can I get an Amen? Goodness knows with prices these days, we can’t afford to be careless about our food budget, right?

Since we can’t control the prices, what can we control? Well, quite a lot actually. Consider these possibilities:

  • cook meals from scratch (this is almost always cheaper than buying processed foods)
  • start and expand a backyard garden
  • buy in-season produce at farmers’ markets
  • practice basic meal planning focusing on the most frugal meals possible

You may not have much control over your rent, mortgage, or car payment amounts, but you have a ton of control over how much you spend on food!

TAKE THE NEXT STEP: Get started with basic meal planning. Knowing ahead of time what you will be cooking and serving several days in advance alleviates a lot of stress and allows you to shop the grocery store ads and clip coupons in order to save even more.

6. Materialism

Get over materialism already! Wow, this one will set you free in more ways than one. There’s no need to keep up with the Joneses, especially when you think about how much the Joneses are spending. They may very well be in debt up to their eyeballs, as this old commercial reminds us.

That sure doesn’t look like self-reliance or independence to me!

Every day we are inundated by both subtle and blatant messages about what we “should” own. Women’s websites and magazines are among the worst. Unless we use a certain cosmetic, we’ll never be beautiful. Until we go on an expensive diet, we’ll never have the body we want, and of course, the message of this never-ending drumbeat is BUY-BUY-BUY!

Well, you and I can say, “NO!” to these messages of materialism and get back to just the basics and focus on wants vs. needs. This, by the way, is a great way to help our kids and grandkids also declare their independence and avoid the debt trap as adults.

TAKE THE NEXT STEP: Here are great tips for moving in the direction of frugality and increased financial freedom. Pick one to start working on today!

7. Holding Onto the Past

Ignoring emotional health is also a threat to self-reliance. Let go of the past. Some of the most miserable people I’ve ever known are tied to past mistakes, past grievances, past relationships. They have never let go and moved on to see what the next chapter of their lives might hold.

Forgiving Yourself

It’s time to forgive yourself for mistakes you’ve made and learn from them.

One thing I’ve taught my own kids is this: Would you ever talk to your best friend the way you talk to yourself? Would you ever blame and never forgive your best friend because they made a mistake? Of course, their answer is always no, and I say, “Then why do you talk to yourself like that?”

Be kind to yourself as though you were your very best friend. Give yourself grace, forgiveness, and mercy.

Forgiving Others

Have a grudge against someone who hurt or rejected you? The best thing I ever did in a situation like this was write a friendly, neutral email to the person wishing them the best of luck, and you know what?



That one simple step totally removed any power I thought they had over me, and I stopped my mental conversations about what I’d like to say, what I should have said, etc. I just wish I had thought to write that email months earlier!

When you take this step, also seek out people who are positive, happy, and excited about life. It’s been said that you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. If that’s the case, be purposeful and selective about who those 5 people are! Married to a perpetually grumpy spouse? Then determine the other four people will be rays of bright, shining lights in your life!

TAKE THE NEXT STEP: Give your emotional health a quick check-up.

8. Stupid/Risky Behavior

Decide to stop stupid and risky behavior. Why chain yourself to bad habits that are affecting your physical, mental, and/or emotional health? Even not getting enough sleep every night has extremely negative effects after a while.

Some people avoid going to the doctor, the dentist, or getting any exercise, among other bad decisions. As a result, they end up paying a high price with an unhealthy body that couldn’t run a block if they saw a mushroom cloud on the horizon. Could there be any easier threat to self-reliance to eliminate?

Don’t be that person!

TAKE THE NEXT STEP: After you make your preventive health care appointments, make a physical fitness plan.

9. Poor Time Management

Take charge of your TIME.

You do realize that time is life, right?

As those seconds and minutes tick away, that’s your life ticking away, so why squander it by saying “yes” to commitments you really don’t want or need in your life? Spending it on mindless video games and forms of entertainment that have no value at all.

When we don’t manage our time, we give control of our lives over to everyone and everything else, and there’s certainly no self-reliance in that!

When we manage time well, our lives become more balanced, and this leads to better physical, emotional, and mental health. Granted, it’s hard to achieve this during the baby/toddler/little kid years, but even an hour or so of alone time can help. I love this book, Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Livesbecause it sheds so much light on the importance of using time strategically.

TAKE THE NEXT STEP: Redeem some time by investing in a hobby that doubles as a survival skill.

10. What Others Think

If you’re a prepper, you may already have set yourself free from worrying about what others think. If not, this is something you need to make a habit of today, because it’s another threat to self-reliance. Nothing will bind you down more than worrying about what other people think. I’ll let you in on a secret. The truth is, they really don’t think about you very often at all.

And if you’re seeking status and approval from others, well, that’s another way of saying the same thing. my sweet friend. Learn who you are, clarify your values, and decide what your own definition is of success. If you define success as having a happy marriage, healthy kids, and a home that is a haven for your loved ones, then you can hold your head up high because you’ve succeeded!

Self-confidence, modeled in front of your children, is a magnificent legacy that extends to generations long after you’re gone.

TAKE THE NEXT STEP: Here’s a strategy for making decisions that can help you resist status-seeking when it looms.

11. Social Media

If you do nothing else, set yourself free from social media!! What a scourge this has become, what a ubiquitous threat to self-reliance it is. On Twitter and Facebook, I have never seen so much rage, hatred, disrespect, and pure meanness on display every single day. Sometimes it’s aimed at “friends” but more often at total strangers. People who wouldn’t even look you in the eye in real life have no problem calling you a &*(&*!!! or a $%^^& or even a $%&^*&@ simply because you voice an opinion they don’t like.

Who needs that kind of “social” in their lives?

Not me.

Not only does social media expose you to a steady stream of negative vibes but it also sucks away time like nothing else can. I’ve found myself scrolling through Facebook posts for hours each week, maybe getting a recipe idea here or there, maybe watching a funny cat video — but how is that really useful or helpful to me? I have plenty of cookbooks with hundreds of recipes, maybe thousands, that I’ve never read and if our five pets aren’t here for my entertainment, then what are they good for???

I’m being a bit facetious with that last bit there, but you get my point. Nothing online, nothing at all, will ever contribute to your quality of life the way real relationships and real life will.

TAKE THE NEXT STEP: Read this post for tips about stepping away from news and social media.

12. Dependence on Others

Finally, find ways to reduce your dependence on others. This one seems pretty obvious, right? I mean this whole article is talking about self-reliance and things that can threaten it. But for those who are just beginning to be aware of a need to make changes, this might not be so apparent.

So to be clear, I’m not talking about interdependence, which is healthy and good. I’m referring to what we as preppers typically think of when we talk about self-reliance. Things like preparing for emergencies and being ready for events like power outages, bad weather, and unexpected expenses.

Simple things like clearing your home of clutter and unwanted/unnecessary belongings and getting organized, setting aside some money each week, and developing practical skills will all help you become independent and able to face challenges without total reliance on others.TAKE THE NEXT STEP: Foster this attitude in your other family members as detailed in this article.

Embrace a Mindset that Vanquishes Threats to Self-Reliance

I’ve always wondered if it really is the nature of humans to fear independence and both need and want someone to rule over them, give them orders, and then obey, as in this speech by Loki in The Avengers movie.

I think you and I, though, we’re different. We were drawn to the idea of preparedness exactly because we reject the thought of being controlled and ruled over by others in a time of crisis and seek self-reliance in ways that are often small but gradually accumulate to something of real significance.

It’s our beliefs, though, that play a significant role in shaping our attitudes and actions toward self-reliance. By acknowledging the ways in which they can hinder our ability to be self-sufficient, we can work towards breaking free from limiting thoughts and embracing a mindset that supports our goal of increasing self-reliance.

Remember, it’s not just about having the resources to survive in difficult times, it’s also about having the confidence and resilience to face threats to self-reliance head-on. By examining our beliefs and making intentional changes, we can cultivate the self-reliance that will serve us well in all aspects of life.

Today, why not take steps that will remove threats to self-reliance?

Originally published June 28, 2017; updated and revised by The Survival Mom editors.

12 thoughts on “12 Ways Your Beliefs Threaten Your Ability to be Self-Reliant”

  1. Slayer of Sacred Cows

    It’s a little sad and ironic that in a post about independence you have a government flag in your header. That flag does not represent independence, it represents dependence. It is the official symbol of the state. It was commissioned by the government and the stars and stripes represent political jurisdictions, and a political jurisdiction is where one group of people claim absolute ownership over everyone and everything within that jurisdiction. Please stop confusing the state with freedom – they are antithetical to each other.

    1. RVing Prepper

      It’s sad that Slayer of Sacred Cows does not respect the independence granted to us by the many who have suffered and died so that S of SC could make the comments that he/she made. I, for one, am grateful to be able to declare that my personal independence has been nurtured in a country where independence has been revered and is symbolized through our flag. Long live the U.S.A. (even with all of it’s faults) and the people who make up this great country (with all of our faults).

      1. Slayer of Sacred Cows

        You are confusing permissions with freedom. Even in your your own words, the liberty to speak our minds was “granted”. And what are you independent from? There is literally nothing you can do that does not require permission from the state or could be taken away by the state. By definition, freedom and government cannot co-exist. You are not independent, you are the property of the government. Stop worshiping and defending your masters; it’s pathetic.

        “None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free” Goethe

      2. Independence is not granted by the people who suffered and died. Independence is not granted by any government or state. Independence is granted to each individual by our creator – re-read the Declaration of Independence. People before us, fought and died to maintain that independence. We need to keep on fighting to keep that independence. We grant the right and responsibilities to governmental agencies. And if we need to, we need to take action to reign in those rights and responsibilities as independent citizens.

        This may be scary to some people. But all of these 12 items can be accomplished and lived out y each one of us. I know I struggle with time management and with bad habits. But daily I am working on them. I do depend on two people in my life – God and my wife. If I lose my wife I will not just stop being independent – I will just lose my partner given to me, to help me keep my wits about me, and to give me a complete picture of the world around me.

  2. Great article! Lots of good advice!

    Our country is not perfect. I am thankful I live in the United States.

  3. Great article. Thank you. God Bless America and those who have fought and died for the country we call home.

  4. Pingback: 13 Ways to Declare Your Personal Independence | The Survival Skills.com

  5. America is still the best place to live. Yes we have a government as civilized societies do. Yes we make and live with this agreement. I recommend to anyone who dislikes the American flag to go live in Syria for a year. The conversation will change. Thanks for the 13 tips. I was reminded of the 13 colonies. Your advice is helpful. I am age 62 taking care of my mother age 88. My daughter is 32 and has a chronic illness. My grandson is 2 and I am raising him. They both live with me. So about TIME. I do not have independent time. I have the same 24 hours as everyone else. What do I do? I have tried to get help. There isn’t any. My sister refuses. I don’t have anyone to ask.

  6. Is gardening cheaper? How much do you spend on supplies like fertilizer and test kits? But an even bigger factor is time. If you spend an hour a day, and most do more, that’s 7 hours a week. At $14 dollars an hour, that’s about $100 a week. After taxes, about $70? Even if it’s only $10 an hour, still clear at least $50. That buys a lot of potatoes, carrots and corn. More than the average person grows in a week. And you don’t have to worry about insects and disease decimating your crops. You can make an argument about growing your own crops to be off the grid, but it isn’t that good for the average person to save money. An additional benefit, is with extra money, you can diversify your stash. Freeze dried meats, so you don’t have to eat plants all the time, if SHTF.

    1. Gardening food NOW is NOT cheaper. You are absolutely correct. But is growing ceros to l”be off the grid” the only reason? I can assure you that the COST and the TIME INVOLVED in growing one’s own veggies” is not the “entire” concern of the prepper community which invests their own “time” in their gardens while gaining gardening “experience AND skills.”

      But just as it is not the “entire” concern, it IS definitely a concern. As preppers, we like the idea of being ABLE to produce our own food.

      Let me ask a hypothetical question: “What will you do if there are ZERO potatoes, carrots and corn on the grocery shelves? Obviously, that is DIFFICULT for anyone with a “Normalcy Bias” to consider as a possibility. Yet, isn’t prepping about preparing for ANY disaster/catastrophe? If we are concerned about ANY thing being a possibility, then certainly ZERO AVAILABLE produce at the grocery store IS possible.

      Alternatively, in an “inflationary” spiral, the co$t of ANY available produce could become prohibitively expensive. Inflation is already here. Hyper-inflation is a possibility. If that were the case, then your current grocery allotment of $50 is now actually worth about 2 cents at the grocery store. That won’t even buy a potato skin.

      What do you do? Do you starve to death in a matter of weeks or months? Do you steal from those who have stored some food? Do you suddenly get the urge to dig up your lawn and plant potatoes? Seriously, what would you do?

      If I have learned anything, it is that preparers have an inner sense of self-preservation that seems to be lacking in many otherwise “smart” people. People who cannot overcome their normalcy bias, it seems, would rather stick their heads in the sand and think “nothing like that has happened before, therefore nothing like that can ever happen (to me).”

      I hope that answers your question. Don’t want to appear to be rude to you, just presenting possibilities and reasons for preparing for an ‘uncertain’ future.

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