Last year 13 year old Jayme Close escaped an 88 day kidnapping. Her kidnapper, Jake Patterson, brutally kidnapped her from her own home after killing her parents in front of her. Jayme was kept under her bed in a rural cabin during the entire ordeal and often went more than 12 hours without going to the bathroom. In looking at the psychological model, Jayme should have been horrified, and forced to believe that she could no longer make choices on her own. Mr. Patterson had beaten Jayme on several occasions when he sensed Jayme was planning to escape to instill fear in his victim. Her kidnapper’s violence from the start should have caused learned helplessness. Jayme looked for every opportunity to escape and did so on the 88th day, when she was left in the cabin alone. We can all learn a lot from Jayme about resilience, and never giving up.
According to the American Psychological Association, resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress — such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and financial stressors. It means “bouncing back” from difficult experiences.
Resilience is something that must be developed and nurtured, in order to have it when you need it. Resilience is the component of your life that will determine whether you are a victim, a survivor, or a conqueror. A victim has little resilience and believes that the only choice they have is to comply. A survivor usually starts out as a victim but realizes at some point they can make choices to improve their situation and takes action on those choices. A conqueror is someone who enters a life trial making choices and improving their situation as they go through it. A common theme in each of these personalities is that they are enduring a trial or crisis. The difference is that the victim began the crisis believing they could not improve their situation and was compliant because of fear.
How do you develop resilience? Perhaps the biggest thing we tell our students is that they must first take care of themselves. We talk about the Fulcrum Principle in our book 365 Days of Survival. The Fulcrum Principle is simply a way to ensure that you are in balance before a crisis strikes and to help you endure and conquer the crisis. We describe three components which include keep yourself in balance physically, emotionally, and spiritually. If one of those three elements are out of balance before the crisis starts, you will enter the crisis in a deficit. We also encourage everyone to do hard things. If you are always comfortable with your situation, than you are not challenging yourself. We believe that a person needs to get out of their comfort zone regularly in order to grow and become resilient. Here are some of our recommendations.
- Take a self-defense course. (We prefer Krav Maga) Don’t just take it, work to master the skills. I will be the first to admit that I have been choked out on the mat many times during my military career and post-military life. It sucks to get choked out, kicked, punched, or thrown but it will make you more resilient. It will also give you skills to prevent it from happening on the street.
- Take an open water scuba diving class. I cannot think of anything that will push your fear buttons like taking your air supply out of your mouth 30 feet underwater and recovering the way the instructors teach you. You will face some other obstacles like taking your mask off at 30 feet and swimming without it. You will face emergency accents, and you will have to learn dive physiology. Conquering a scuba diving course will make you far more resilient than you were when you started.
- Take a Wilderness First Aid Course. You will learn some advanced First Aid Skills and have to think on your feet. Wilderness First Aid will push your limits far more than the other basic courses and will make you more resilient.
- Take CERT (Community Emergency Response Team Training). If you want to be a conqueror than you should take this course. You will learn how to take charge in a disaster, triage, provide first aid, and conduct basic search and rescue. I know this course pushed me a little bit and I am glad it did.
- Look for every opportunity to do something that causes you to face your fears. If public speaking is an issue for you, take a class and find opportunities to use your new skill. If water scares you, take swimming lessons. Whatever it is (unless it is unhealthy), pursue it and become more resilient.
Kidnappings happen all over the world, including in the United States. Domestic kidnappings are comparatively rare but life throws challenges at us every day. Keep your fulcrum balanced and take care of yourself. I would encourage you to read our book 365 Days of Survival which is available on Amazon, and take our Anti-Kidnapping and Hostage Survival Course. Challenge yourself every day, and never look for the easy road.