When the time comes, will you Sink or Swim?

Identity is a complex term. It is partly shaped by things we can control, like the choices we make in work, love, and hobbies. It also includes some things that we may not have control over, like genetics or physical/mental disabilities. But there is a HUGE part of our identity that we often confuse for being out of our control, but IS actually within our control: our instincts.


I know what you’re thinking. Isn’t the definition of instinct “a way of behaving, thinking or feeling that is NOT learned?” Well, yes, if you listen to Merriam-Webster, but those guys have been dead for a long time, so who are you going to trust? 😉

Let me back up. This morning, my very curious and always troublesome ferret, Stretch, escaped our apartment and began a journey around the complex. While I’m sure it was all fun and games for her, it was not for my husband and me.


My instinct? Panic & Crying 


My husband’s instinct? Anger & Blame


Once she was found, some twenty minutes later, I was a little bit embarrassed and disappointed by our instincts in the emergency. You’ve all heard the hypothetical, “Sink or swim?” Well, I have decided that I will NOT be identified as a sinker. Before my twenties, the only mild emergencies I’ve been in have been “swims” (not sinks), but I realize that’s because the danger surrounded strangers, allowing me to think and act without my emotions getting the best of me. It’s important that I start to better shape my instincts because my parents will (likely) not be there to save the day. I want to be the kind of wife, friend, daughter, and mom (someday) that everyone can rely on when a REAL emergency hits. Here are the steps I’m taking to hopefully drastically improve my instincts:



1. Get CPR Certified & Learn the proper Heimlich Maneuver. These simple life-saving procedures are both on my bucket list and it’s about time that I check them off so that bucket kicking can be avoided if I am around someone drowning or choking. *Also, lesser known advice is that you should NOT use the Heimlich if the airway is only partially blocked, because you risk pushing the food further down into your lungs.


2. Say out loud to myself, “Focus on the end game.” The end game today was to find Stretch. In another situation it could be to get help, or get to the hospital or get that mentos the **** out of his/her throat. In which case, you will be double prepared because you already did step 1.


3. Take a deep breath. Unless the emergency is that you crossed the road without looking and there is a truck coming, (in which case, by all means, hold your breath and run) a deep breath can go a long way in helping you to think straight and take the right course of action.

4. Post Emergency Phone #s on the fridge & on Speed Dial. We all know 911, but depending on your living situation you may need other numbers. Poison control if you have pets or children or unruly spouses. Your doctor if you are pregnant. Your neighbor on speed dial in case you need them to check on your house when you’re not there. Think about your particular living situation and add your lifelines before you need them.


5. Learn the quickest route to the nearest hospital. This should be a given if you are pregnant, but it’s always good to know where your nearest hospital is in the event that your cell phone is dead, or the power is out.


6. Keep your phone charged. And on that note, keep your phone charged. I am

famous for always having my phone die, but now that we’re adults it’s important that we do this one simple thing. Let’s keep our phones alive so that we are prepared if and when we ever need to call for help OR if someone needs to call us for help. A good first step is getting a wall charger, USB charger, car charger and portable charger. With all of the chargers out there, what excuse do we really have anymore?


When people think of me, I want them to think swimmer, not sinker.


I believe that you can shape your instincts, do you agree or disagree? When it comes to emergencies do your instincts cause you to sink or swim? Any helpful tips to help us swim that I forgot to mention? Share in the comments below!



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