Some call living in modern times the "rat race," an endless, self-defeating, pointless pursuit, much like a lab rat futilely trying to escape while running through a maze.
When job satisfaction is low, bills are mounting, health is poor or dysfunction has taken over the family, it often seems like the system has set us up to fail.
Gone is the joy and happiness of gathering with family and friends. Feelings of loneliness, depression and isolation creep in.
That’s when many of us start longing for a way out, which could mean seeking a new job or perhaps filing for divorce. Some think of running away, abandoning everything to start life anew in a different city, even living on the street, if necessary.
Others consider a more final escape.
According to a recent report in Science Daily, between 1999 and 2005, suicides in the United States were up 0.7 percent. What was shocking about that statistic was the emergence of a new "high-risk" group—Caucasians aged 40-64.
During the study period, the rate rose 2.7 percent annually among middle-aged white men. For middle-aged women, it was up 3.9 percent each year on average.
According to Susan P. Baker, a professor with the Bloomberg School's Center for Injury Research and Policy, "Historically, suicide prevention programs have focused on groups considered to be at highest risk—teens and young adults of both genders as well as elderly white men. This research tells us we need to refocus our resources to develop prevention programs for men and women in their middle years."
And it isn’t just an American problem. Across Europe, this disturbing trend has appeared—especially in Greece, Spain, Ireland and the Baltics, where the economic turndown has hit hardest. According to the Public Health Agency of Northern Ireland , suicides there have increased 64 percent in the past decade.
But taking one’s own life is the antithesis of surviving the system. Although it may seem like a way out, it’s quite literally a dead end. Suicide is the system crushing the life out of someone. And it doesn’t have to be that way.
In order to survive the system, one must first reject any notion of death as an option. Survival means living. Period.
Next, a plan for survival is required. And nobody knew better how to survive life’s twists and turns than our ancestors—the cavemen.
Of necessity, cavemen kept their lives simple. By choice, we can, too. If they could make it through an Ice Age, we can certainly survive a manmade recession or two.
The ancient skills of survival are incorporated today in the rules of wilderness survival , which teaches first and foremost "DO NOT PANIC … let your positive self rule your decisions."
Once you have calmed down, the next step is to S.T.O.P., a useful acronym for Sit -Think - Observe - Plan.
Collect your thoughts. Consider what physical and mental resources are available to help you in your situation. Look around for opportunities, tools and others who have made the system work for them.
Then set a course of action. Start by taking control of the factors that are controllable. And remember, you may feel lost at times, but you are never alone. Like so many others in hard times, you can survive, no matter what obstacles the system places in your way.
Alfablue, June 2013