The Persuasive Prepper: Convincing Loved Ones to Prepare

By DAISY LUTHER | ORGANIC PREPPER | MARCH 21, 2013

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 Luis Miranda
The Real Agenda is an independent publication. It does not take money from Corporations, Foundations or Non-Governmental Organizations. It provides news reports in three languages: English, Spanish and Portuguese to reach a larger group of readers. Our news are not guided by any ideological, political or religious interest, which allows us to keep our integrity towards the readers.

One Response to The Persuasive Prepper: Convincing Loved Ones to Prepare

  1. jeffrey warnick says:

    I in an off & on way have been prepping for about 4 yrs. now with a friend who has dropped off in the last year. my children live in another part of the country . One of my brothers lives near me him and his wife do things in spurts they are doing week to week on food and buying extra very seldom. I try every so often to get him on track but to no avail yet ,I on the other hand buy food strictly for storage now and am living on food stores from 2-3 yrs. ago. My daughter and her family are full in trying to catch up to me which they might and they listen with all ears and take notes, my son thinks we’re nuts and thinks it will be a share thing with his sister but in helping her its a ration system if the shtf rations are minimum and work is the contribution I think I am teaching my daughter fine common sense. As for my brother and friend tell me I am obsessed and on the verge of crazy but I have honorably served in the U.S. Army and the U.S. Navy and have lived in a lot of areas here and abroad, have been homeless, I have had the rug pulled out from under me more than I care to remember my one comment to them is I will never again go hungry if the lord takes me then someone else wont go hungry or want for anything to survive its going to be here that’s piece of mind and my legacy I guess. they say they’ll just come to my house but I tell them I will have a few rations to spare maybe they know I would help them I would have to give anyone hungry a meal in bad times its the way we were raised ( do not refuse food to a starving person or you should end up that person). I find that we as humans have one trait in us as long as we live and that is when they stock up on something or do something to prepare a little praise or attaboy helps no matter how small of an achievement it is any is better than none.