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Forget Perfect, Be Resilient

Forget Perfect, Be Resilient

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

Being Present

Being Present

Last week, my family and I spent time at the lake, celebrating Independence Day. It was the opportunity to completely disconnect from work for my husband and myself. Our intention of taking a break from work emails and social media is helped by the fact that we have limited cell service and no Wifi in the camper. The first few days are a bit strange because I have moments of brief panic, “where did I leave my phone?!?”. But by day 3, I remember what it’s like to not look at my phone every 30 minutes.

I’m more present.

I’m able to see every “Hey mom, watch this!”

I’m able to wholeheartedly say yes to every “Hey mom, will you play with me?”

I laugh a lot more because I see the kid’s silly antics instead of being lost in thought about the latest email or text.

Being aware and present in life not only keeps you safer, it also enriches your life.

Think Differently

Every time I give a presentation on situational awareness, I talk about the other benefits of being aware of your surroundings. I’ve realized that carrying myself with confidence deters potential attackers AND sets the tone when I walk into a room. Reading body language is great for recognizing when someone is up to no good AND tells me whether my kids are having a good or bad day. Being able to visualize what I would do in different active threat scenarios will prevent me from freezing AND helps me decide on the best form for a perfect cannonball off the end of the dock. I want women to realize they already have all the skills necessary, they simply need to start thinking differently about being present.

I have conversations with women about situational awareness and how it can help them make safer choices as they go about their daily lives. Most of the time, when the discussion starts, they visualize physically fighting an attacker. While learning physical self-defense techniques is important for everyone, I tell them it’s more important to see and understand their environment BEFORE anything happens. It’s driving your car down the road and being aware of the other vehicles. It’s keeping a watchful eye while your kids play in the water to make sure they’re safe.

Soft Skills

Situational awareness is the fancy way of saying “being present”. I don’t want women to think it’s some complicated and difficult skill to learn. In fact, most women are better at being more situationally aware than men. It’s just that we’re using it in all the ways that don’t pertain to our safety! Women are intuitive by nature. Women tend to be more empathetic to others and can sense when someone is happy or sad. Women have these skills because traditionally, we’re raised to be caretakers and nurturers. The switch women need to make is realizing these soft skills can also be used when it comes to our personal safety.

Start Today

When was the last time you sat down and people-watched? When was the last time you left your phone on its charger in the morning and enjoyed your first cup of coffee before checking emails? When was the last time you noticed someone’s cute shoes and told them, “Those shoes are adorable!” Start being more present in your everyday life. It’s a big beautiful world filled with lots of interesting people. If becoming more situationally aware seems too intimidating right now, start with being more present in your daily life. We all have to learn to crawl before we can walk. You got this.

“Nothing is more precious than being in the present moment. Fully alive, fully aware.”

-Thich Nhat Hanh

Did you hear that?

Did you hear that?

Observe Your Surroundings

What is the first thing you think of when I say, “observe your surroundings”? I’m going to guess you thought about looking around and using your sense of sight to SEE what’s in your space. What if I told you your sight was already being influenced by another one of your senses?

That’s right, your sense of sight is secondary most of the time because you might hear something before you see it.

If you took an informal poll of your friends, most of them would rather lose their hearing instead of their vision. But your hearing capabilities evolved from its survival advantage. You hear things before you see them, especially at night or in the dark. Your hearing influences every other perception you have.

You’re surrounded by noises every day. But just like with sight, your ears can be listening to tons of sounds in your environment, without your brain really hearing them; your antennae are always up, but they don’t always send a signal to pay attention. Such signals only register in your conscious awareness when they’re particularly important (as in when you hear your name said at a noisy party), or when they break the usual pattern/tone/rhythm that your brain expects (like a scream, crash, explosion, or someone is talking in a strange or suspicious way).

You can tune into more sounds than you usually hear by “perking up” your ears, concentrating, and trying to distinguish and pull out noises you’re usually “ear-blind” to.

 

How can you practice hearing more than you usually do?

1. The next time you arrive to a meeting at a coffee shop early, instead of getting on your phone to check social media, try closing your eyes or looking down and see how many different sounds you can hear.

2. When you are in a social setting, see if you can pick out a specific voice or noise amongst all the other sounds around you.

3. If you hear a noise (and you’re in a safe setting), trying to guess what made the noise before turning to look and see what it was.

Moms have a tendency to really excel at these exercises because they’re used to hearing the cupboard door to the snacks open when it’s not supposed to or pick out their kid screaming “mom!” on a playground with other screaming kids, but anyone can improve their hearing skills.

Start by taking 5 minutes sometime today to stop and really listen to the noises going on around you. Who or what is making the sound? Is it a happy, sad or mad sound?  Are any of the sounds something you should pay more attention to?

“And in English you have this wonderful difference between listening and hearing, and that you can hear without listening and you can listen and not hear.” -Daniel Barenboim