The SERE Effect

4 mins read

I left SERE school exactly 19 years ago. That is fucking nuts. But anyway. I was watching The Selection with the fam. The episode where the contestants did the resistance portion of the shit. I remember doing all that in SERE. The boxes, the loud noises, the cold water, the bullshit. All of it. Tired and hungry.

Watching these people go through this shit, I notice that a lot of them are really effected by it. Some of them crack. The cadre are sometimes talking to the camera about their own experiences. Some were scared. Didn’t know what to expect. Etcetera. It all made me reflect on my own SERE experience, and while doing so I came to realize one of the most important lessons for life I’ve ever personally encountered.

My Experience Was Different

I didn’t have that type of experience. I thought SERE was easy. Silly even. I understood the purpose, and I valued the knowledge. But I’ve never been one for simulations. I fucking hated “playing” the part of the JTAC and acting out the control with my instructor who played the airplane pilot. I didn’t want to role play exactly what each of us would say, I just wanted to explain what I would do at each step of the process. Similarly, I always knew in SERE that they were all just actors. It was all a sim. Just a game that was supposed to impart a lesson. This is what made the entire thing no big deal.

None of it got to me. I had zero fear, zero anxiety. I didn’t care what happened next because I knew they couldn’t kill me. It was the same shit in Basic. There was a pivotal moment in there when I and a group of my friends realized that these people couldn’t hurt us. No matter what happened in SERE training, I always knew if wasn’t real. That I would be okay. Nothing was scary about it.

Back to Basic Military Training. Realizing there was no actual danger to me was like Neo seeing the Matrix. So I walked through the rest of BMT after that incident with a different attitude. Unshakeable. It was the same in SERE. None of it effected me, mentally, because I knew it would be over at some point and that they couldn’t hurt me. I was in complete control of my mind.

This All Applies to Life

But the lesson didn’t hit me until today. That experience, and now recalling the one in BMT, it can be applied at any time. Any shit circumstance, any annoying thing, any person out there. They can’t hurt me. Because I know that it will pass. All the shit they make you do in SERE, the stress positions, it’s all designed to make you uncomfortable. You just gotta get through it. Nothing can crack you if you put your mind in the right place. Some people do crack, though. The discomfort gets to them because they dwell on it. They fixate on it. Their mind exacerbates it to the point of it being overwhelming. And they give in.

This is how it is with life. Everything that comes your way has the potential to overwhelm you if you let it occupy your mind and swell in there. But you always have the power to keep it out, to recognize that it isn’t going to do you in. You can choose to allow it to disrupt you or you can choose to laugh at its pathetic attempts. The choice is always yours.

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