How to deal with non-prepper family or friends • Prepare With Foresight
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Sceptical non-prepper family or friend with cup of coffee in his hand.

How to deal with non-prepper family or friends

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Consider this scenario. You are concerned about the risk you and your family face and have decided to take steps to become more resilient. The challenge you face, however, is that your non-prepper family, friends, and neighbors do not support you. In fact, they often actively discourage, criticize and ridicule you. What do you do? Let’s consider this problem.

Do you really need others?

It can be difficult if your friends or family do not support your efforts to become more resilient, especially if you believe you are doing it for the right reasons. This may be discouraging, but the truth is, you can do a fair amount of prepping on your own. Long term sustainability, however, will require the support of others. Being part of a support network not only increases your access to skills and knowledge, but it also introduces a level of redundancy and capacity into your preparedness plans. Besides, it is easier to do something if you have the support of the people around you. Here are some tips on how to approach the critics you encounter.

Why do some people see value in disaster preparedness while others don’t?

The first questions to consider is why do some people see value in disaster preparedness while others don’t? There are several answers to this question, one relating to the individual’s own perception of risk. John Adams, in his book titled Risk, describes how an individual’s perception of risk is influenced by, amongst others, the ‘experience of risk’. This experience of risk can either be due to the person’s own previous experiences of risk or be based on the experience of others. Secondly, a person’s willingness to take a risk is also influenced by the potential rewards associated with the particular risk. A third aspect to consider is the notion of the cost and benefit associated with a risk. Based on these three aspects, it can be argued that:

  • An individual with little ‘experience of risk’ may consider the risk of future disasters as low. The reward offered by prepping, therefore, does not justify the investment of time, effort, and cost. This individual, therefore, does not consider disaster preparedness as important and will remain a non-prepper.
  • On the other side of the spectrum, an individual that has a greater ‘experience’ of disaster risk will have an elevated perception of risk. The perceived benefits offered by being prepared therefore outweighs the required cost in terms of time, effort and money; making these individuals more inclined to take steps to become more resilient.

This is possibly an oversimplification of a very complex decision-making process, but the point is, different people view risk differently. This will also explain why people may disagree with your need to be prepared. Non-prepper family and friends are also unlikely to change their opinion unless their risk perception changes. Given this, how does this explain the different types of non-preppers that you may encounter in daily life?

Three types of non-preppers

This is not an exact science, but for illustration, non-preppers can be divided into three groups:

  • Hard-core denialists
  • Potential (but restrained) prepper
  • Procrastinating prepper

We will consider each of these in more detail.

The Hard-core denialists

These are individuals that do not see any value in personal disaster preparedness. They are vocal critics, and most difficult to deal with. They perceive the probability and/or consequence of the risk to be low. Their worldview suggests that their current situation is relatively stable and that it will continue to remain stable. Even if things do go horribly wrong, they will be able to cope. They are adamant that preppers are wasting their time and money.

The Potential (but restrained) prepper

The second type of non-prepper feels that there is value in personal preparedness, but are hesitant to embark on the prepping journey. They may view the term ‘preppers’ as tainted due to less than favorable perception created by the media. Sadly, in some cases, these negative opinions are warranted. The Potential (but restrained) Prepper is worried that they will be seen as one of ‘those people’ if they become involved in prepping.

Another reason for not becoming involved in disaster preparedness might be due to fear or other professional reasons. In some countries, the prepping community is associated with particular political or extremist undertones, and even the suggestion of association with such groups can have negative consequences on their careers. They deem the risk to their reputation and career to be high although they may be secretly interested in preparedness. They are often openly critical of the prepping community or publicly do not support the idea of disaster preparedness.

The perceived cost of becoming involved in prepping may also discourage these potential preppers. If the balance between cost and benefits change, either due to a decrease in the risk of judgment by the community (lower cost), or an increased risk of potential disaster (higher benefit), the Potential (but restrained) Prepper will be more willing to become involved in disaster preparedness.

The Procrastinating prepper

The third type of non-prepper is the Procrastinating Prepper. These individuals do see value in disaster preparedness but feel that they do not have the time, energy or money to get involved in personal preparedness. Alternatively, they want to start prepping but do not know where to start, or they lack motivation. They therefore continually postpone the decision to start. This type of non-preppers are generally not vocal critics but also do no actively defend the idea of prepping.

Each of these three types of non-preppers can be perceived as being non-supportive, even though their reasons may be different. You, therefore, need to deal with each group in a different way.

How to deal with the non-prepper

It is important to realize that people generally do not change their mind based on only your opinion. Individuals take their own opinions and views very seriously, so you need to respect their opinion, even if you think it is wrong. Having said this, here are a few things to consider when you are confronted with each of the non-prepper groups.

Hard-core denialists: You will (probably) not convince them

You are unlikely to convince someone from this group to change their view. The more you try to persuade them, the more difficult they may become. They will not consider personal disaster preparedness as important until they experience a disaster, or perceive a potential risk to their own, or their family’s safety.

It also does not help telling them about all the prepping you have done. This will only give them more ammunition to criticize you (Why do you waste so much money?!), but also increase the risk of them showing up at your door in the event of a disaster.

Unfortunately, you may not be able to avoid these individuals, since they might be close family members or colleagues. If you find that they go out of their way to make life difficult for you, ensure that you have a reasonable response prepared to defend your opinions, views, and approach to prepping. To achieve this, you need to do your homework.

Be intelligent in the way you prepare. Take the time to understand the risks you face. Stay up to date on world events, weather patterns, and socio-economic or political developments. Understanding how these events influence the risks you face will not only put you in a better position to defend your opinions but also enable you to align your approach to preparedness as the risks change.

Another mistake some preppers make is to prepare for the highly unlikely events while forgetting about the more likely but less severe events. It is no use you prepare for nuclear fallout, but you don’t know how to change your car’s tire. Also, don’t stockpile a year’s supply of food, but forget to have a basic first-aid kit at home. Not being prepared for the likely but small events not only puts you in an awkward situation, but it also opens you up to criticism.

The potential (but restrained) prepper: Understand their concerns

The key to dealing with this non-prepper is in understanding their concerns. When talking to this group, you don’t have to start on the topic of prepping, but may consider discussing risk. For example, you can ask them if there are specific risks they perceive as increasing or whether they are concerned for the safety or security of their family. Maybe you share similar concerns, and this might be an opportunity to discuss appropriate solutions.

If you find that there is common ground for further discussion, you can probably start sharing some relevant preparedness related websites, articles, or books. This can keep the conversation going, and address some of the concerns of the Potential (but restrained) Prepper.

Also see: What is Prepping?

Remember that ‘prepping’ does not have to be linked to a particular stereotype or group of people. Preparation for an uncertain future requires an intelligent and informed assessment of a situation, followed by planning and implementation of certain actions. What those actions entail is up to each individual. Being prepared is just as much about installing a security gate to protect your family than it is to have a pantry full of food. The only difference is the type of event you are preparing for.

The Procrastinating Prepper: Consider the opportunity, but be careful

This non-prepper might be interested in the idea of prepping, but they have no plans in place. This might be due to lack of knowledge, other priorities, or worst-case, laziness. Be sure to understand why they are procrastinating. If you find that they have a definite interest, but just need some help and guidance, let them know you are also interested in prepping. Be careful how much you tell them until they have shown commitment. If they are willing to take responsibility and contribute towards their own resilience, give them some pointers and advice, and share some ideas and interesting information.

Also see: How to start prepping the right way

If you realize that they are lazy or not willing to commit, move on. A lazy prepper is dangerous. They know how important prepping is, and will probably be keeping a list of their prepper friends to run to in the event of a disaster.

Can you prepare on your own?

So, knowing what type of non-prepper you are dealing with is great, but what do you do if you are surrounded by hard-core denialists with no prospect of support? Given that preparedness is a lifestyle and involves a particular mindset, there are several things you can do on your own:

  • Read and learn more about disaster preparedness and what constitutes resilience. There are thousands of websites and videos on the topic of survival and preparedness. Be selective and find the ones that are most valuable and follow them. There are also hundreds of books covering a range of relevant topics. Read the online reviews on sites such as Amazon, and pick the best ones.
  • If you have not already joined a social network or discussion forum, find a group you feel comfortable with, and become involved. Take part in the online discussions; ask questions and share advice. Just be careful on how much personal information you divulge. The anonymity of the internet has some advantages, but also risks.
  • Develop your skills. There are various websites and YouTube channels with survival related how-to videos, tips and tricks. Don’t just watch the videos, practice what you learn. Be on the lookout for training opportunities, such as first-aid, outdoor survival, hunting or self-defense courses. Also, consider developing more traditional or technical skills to become self-sufficient.
  • Work on your strength, fitness and personal health. Do not underestimate the role and importance of physical and emotional well-being on your resilience.

A focus on your own preparedness, knowledge, and skills will not only improve your resilience, but it will also enable you to assist others. In addition, it will put you in a better position to evaluate and recruit potential team members to add to your network.

What to do if you really need support?

The key to building a network is in developing mutually-beneficial relationships. How do you build such a network?

Firstly, consider your immediate circles of influence, such as friends and family that might already be preppers, or who may be potential (but restrained), or procrastinating preppers.

If your immediate circle remains opposed to your ideas, you may need to consider people outside your current network. Consider members of your sports club, colleagues at work, friends from your old school or college, parents of your children’s friends, or members of cultural or religious groups. Looking outside your current network will require greater discernment and more effort in evaluating people, so be very selective who you talk to and how much information you share.

Finally, if you still don’t find support, consider attending events that might attract like-minded individuals. Attend self-defense or survival courses, or join a volunteer fire or emergency medical service. Once you find prospective partners, consider these four questions before including them into your network:

  • Are they serious about becoming more resilient, or do they have ulterior motives? Do you agree with their views and strategy towards building resilience? What type of ‘prepper’ are they? Are they big talkers, telling everybody what they do, or can they keep their plans to themselves?
  • Are they trustworthy? Do they share your ethical or religious values? Are they involved in questionable or illegal activities? Be careful not to become associated with the wrong crowd and be found guilty by association.
  • Do you trust them? Are you willing to leave your family in their care? Who are in their group or network, and can you trust the other members of their group?
  • Do they contribute to your level of preparedness or resilience in any way? Do they have skills, knowledge or expertise you don’t have and can you benefit them in the same way? Do they want to partner with you or your supplies?

Remember, it is not ideal to be alone, but including the wrong partner in your network can be even more destructive. If, after all these attempts, you still do not find a suitable partner, continue working on your own, but keep looking for potential opportunities. Building a relationship with people takes time, so don’t rush it. You don’t want to invest in a relationship and expose yourself and your family to unnecessary risk.

Some closing thoughts

It can be upsetting and frustrating not to have the support of your non-prepper family and friends, especially if you feel you are looking out for their best interest. But the truth is, a large segment of the population does not see the value in becoming more resilient, and the media and entertainment industry often portrays the prepping community in a negative light.

Also see: Six Principles of Personal Preparedness

The key to gaining the support of your non-prepper family and friends is by understanding their perceptions and concerns. By addressing their concerns, and clearly communicating yours, you might be able to gain some support. Even if you fail to convince them, continue to increase your resilience by developing your knowledge and skills, and through intelligent preparation. You might, over time, be able to bring them around, and this can bring you the support you need.

About The Author

Christiaan has previously been involved in the field of disaster risk management, primarily focusing on risk and vulnerability assessments. He is also involved in the field of strategic foresight and enjoys writing on the topics of disaster preparedness, resilience and risk management.

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