A few weeks ago, I asked myself ‘where do you see yourself in five years?‘ This gave me the idea to write a series of posts concentrating on everyday/ rhetorical questions, answered from a post-apocalyptic frame of mind. Now, I’m not sure how ‘everyday’ this question is for some of you, but I hear a version of it at least once a day. Apparently, I am considered ‘strange’. I translate it as meaning ‘what are your flaws; and how are they going to kill you?’
Fact: Everyone has flaws, even you. Especially you. Humans in general have a tendency to have this mental view of ourselves as always in the right and flawless, and we acknowledge ourglaring personality defects only on occasion, while ensuring we focus the lasers of disapproval on other peoples. This is not a maintainable state of affairs, neither in our day to day lives, nor after the world smashes itself flat and we are left blinking in the wreckage. It is only through acknoweldging our flaws and controlling them we can survive. In this article, I will focus on mental flaws, as I’ve already dealt with physical flaws.
Step 1: Acknowledge your flaws
You have them. Deal with it. I am a big proponent of honesty- with yourself and with others- and you are going to need to be honest with yourself here. Find a quiet place, away from the noise of modern life. Turn off your phone, leave your iPod at home. Sit in this quiet place, and think about yourself. Not the self-aggrandising image you have of yourself in your head- always right, putting people in their place and saving orphans at the same time- but the real you. Unadorned. Now hone in on the bad things you do to other people- whether you mean to do them or not. Spot a pattern. Figure out what’s behind those patterns. There you go, your flaws. Aren’t they cute?
So you don’t think I’m bullying you, here are my flaws. I am Selfish, Impulsive, Controlling, Manipulative and Impatient.
Now, you’ll soon figure out not all those flaws are negative in a survival context. Manipulative and controlling, as examples. Very useful in leadership positions and persuading people to let you live. While you should try and limit your wallowing in those flaws in everyday life, using them post-apocalypse is A-OK. It’s the ones that will be negative in survival contexts we’re worried about here.
Step 2: Control your flaws.
Many people are controlled by their personality flaws. I see it every day- they have plenty of pleasant personality traits, but it’s their greed, or their arrogance that dictates how they live their life. Don’t let that happen to you. Once you are aware of your flaws, you quickly become aware of how they are affecting and controlling your interactions with other human beings. The thing is, you don’t have to let them! Self-awareness is key here- be aware of why you are reacting the way you do in every situation. Once you are, you can control your flaws more easily- and then decide when to give into your worst instincts.
Why is this useful? Imagine being able to switch your selfishness off and on. Before I learned how to do that, I ruined friendships and people stopped giving a shit about me. As a selfish person, this isn’t what I want! I learned to be selfish when it was practical to be so, and people started liking me a lot more. People who can now be persuaded to give me everything I want when I am occasionally subtly selfish. Mwuahahahah. See the difference? I am still selfish, but now I’ve managed to turn it into a type of selfishness that everyone willingly buys into. In the post-apocalyptic world, ensuring that people willingly follow my path and fulfill my needs is much more practical than having to force them to.
Step 3: Learn how to make your flaws work for you.
I gave you a little clue on that one up in the previous step- but that was with a relatively practical flaw. What about my other flaws? Impulsiveness and impatience aren’t of any use to me, surely? In fact, before I learned to be in control of them, they were pretty tricky.
Well, yes, but it’s all a matter of when you decide to go with them that matters. Impulsiveness is obviously bad when scavenging, and when deciding who to take in your group. You should be wary of impulsiveness then. But it’s not such a bad thing when creating art. Before you say art won’t be useful, remember that art and music are some of the first things the human race developed. We need them, or we are less than human. Art will be made of scraps in the wastelands of the future, but impulse will drive it. And as for impatience- well, if you’re a leader a reputation for mild impatience could be a boon. No waffling, and everyone not wanting to annoy you. Good, no?
The point is, you can’t root out your flaws like a weed. They’ve been part of your personality since you had a personality, and they aren’t really bad unless they exist in excess. Ensuring you are in control of yourself at all times will really help with survival.