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You Can Do A lot of Things Right…And Still Have Something Bad Happen

A follower on IG messaged me about an incident that happened to her a few years ago.

“I love your messages on here about how to stay safe. Just a quick note that even when you do everything ‘right’, you can still be a victim. Several years ago, I was mugged in uptown in Minneapolis. It was light outside, I was walking with my head up, gave the 4 guys eye contact and smiled and as they passed me, I got jumped. I’m fine, all 4 were caught that night and were convicted. I guess the moral of the story was there are people that will find a way to be evil. And there are heros too…so just be aware. A guy across the street immediately came running (towards me) and I luckily had my cell phone in my pocket, not my purse (they took that) and I was able to call 9-1-1 and could say what each of them was wearing and what direction they were running in. Again, awareness is key, but also sometimes crap happens and it’s how you respond that can be just as important. You don’t want a false sense of security, nor to live in fear.”

When I asked her what the one thing she would want all women to learn from her experience, she said this:

“Trust your instincts but believe in good in the world. Bad things can happen when you least expect it, but people can also surprise you and be heros too. There isn’t a perfect solution to safety, but you can take steps to be safer…but don’t let fear stop you…make it drive you forward. Truthfully-what (is) learned is you truly don’t have control…but you can control how you handle life situations.”

BOOM. Read that again, “but you can control how you handle life situations.”

Resiliency: noun

  1. The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.

It’s Not Easy

Resiliency is such an important character trait. Life is hard. We all make mistakes. We’ve all had bad things happen to us (bad being relative). The most important thing to do is to get back up and keep moving forward.

Let’s Be Real

As my husband likes to say,

“Bad things almost always happen to bad people. Unfortunately, sometimes bad things happen to good people.”

We can get caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. Maybe it’s the late-night trip to the store to pick up the class snack your kid just told you they need tomorrow. Maybe it’s having to stop at that creepy gas station at night because you completely forgot to fill up your tank earlier in the day. Maybe it’s making the smart decision to get a taxi after two glasses of wine with friends, only to have the driver start making inappropriate comments.

Cue the Armchair Warriors

All the armchair warriors of the world can dissect your choices AFTER the fact and from the comfort of their own home. The truth is, we all make better decisions with hindsight.  Sure, your kid could’ve told you earlier that they were in charge of bringing snack the next day. Of course, you could have given yourself enough time to fill up your gas tank earlier in the day. Did you need to drink to hang out with friends? (no, but I’m not one to turn down a good glass of vino-let’s be honest!)

I don’t believe there is such a thing as perfect situational awareness. Things happen that are beyond our control. It’s how we work through the aftermath that matters.

What Does Resiliency Have to do with Awareness?

Great question.

With resiliency comes the confidence that no matter what happens, you won’t give up and you’ll come back even stronger. You can do all the right things to be aware of your surroundings, and still have something happen to you. You can have the best intentions to stay present and alert, and still get distracted or stop paying attention for a moment.

  • Maybe you have small children who are always saying “Watch me mom!”
  • Maybe it’s a call from a friend or family member while you’re walking to your car after work.
  • Maybe you’ve had a really long day and you zone out while driving home.

To stay 100% aware of your surroundings, all of the time, is impossible. Instead, build your resiliency so you have the confidence that you can take whatever curveballs life throws at you.

You Don’t Have To Be Perfect, You Need To Be Resilient

In her article, “The Art of Resilience”, Hara Estroff Marano, states:

“Resilient people do not let adversity define them. They find resilience by moving towards a goal beyond themselves, transcending pain and grief by perceiving bad times as a temporary state of affairs.”

“It’s possible to strengthen your inner self and your belief in yourself, to define yourself as capable and competent. It’s possible to fortify your psyche. It’s possible to develop a sense of mastery.”

Being physically attacked is an awful thing to experience, and yet if you can use your resiliency skills to say, “I’m not perfect and this event does not define me”, your ability to recover and help law enforcement find your attacker(s) will increase exponentially. Going back to the story shared by our follower, she was aware of her surroundings and even looked right at the attackers- and they still mugged her. Because she was resilient and quickly took control of her situation, she was able to give physical descriptions and the direction they ran to police, who were then able to apprehend and charge all 4 attackers. Kudos to her!

Going Forward

I hope you’re never in a life or death situation.

I hope you never find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I hope you practice being present and aware of your surroundings every day.

I hope you build your resilience with the knowledge that you are a fighter. That if someone is trying to bring you down, mentally or physically, you won’t go down easy and you won’t go do without a fight. You are smart, you are brave, and you won’t give up.

“Life doesn’t get easier or more forgiving, we get stronger and more resilient.”

Steve Maraboli