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Do You Trust Your Instincts?

Posted by Maya Frost on


I wrote a personal essay that was published this week (link below), and it was all about how I had to learn to trust my instincts as a mother. And I got to thinking about the other times I have trusted my instincts--especially when it protected me or even saved my life. 

I've lived through some dangerous moments. I was the sole survivor in a car accident. I cradled my newborn during a major earthquake in Japan, huddled with my husband during a roof-ripping cyclone in Uruguay, and crawled downstairs, choking and gasping through smoke, during a hotel fire in Hanoi. There are too many potentially perilous times to count or even remember, really. Always, I trusted my instincts to stay safe. 

Or so I thought. Recently, it dawned on me that maybe it wasn't so much my instincts that protected me, but myknowledge about safety

Now, I assure you that when I was a teenager, I wasn't the slightestbit interested in safety, but I learned about it anyway. You see, my stepdad was a safety manager at a manufacturing plant. So, whether I was slicing bread or driving on gravel roads, he had plenty of advice about how to stay safe. 

I rolled my eyes. I sighed dramatically. I mean, safety is such adrag, right? (It was the seventies. I am pretty sure I used that term to describe our family safety talks.)

But his words seeped in anyway. So, on those rare(ish) occasions when I, say, took a corner too fast in our old Ford and started sliding on our gravel road, I instinctively knew to turn into the slide. Years later, when my toddler(s) started choking on small objects, I instinctively turned them over my knee and did the back pat that popped the quarter or button right out onto the floor. There were countless occasions when I just somehow knew what to do.

But was it instinct, or was it because I had heard safety tips daily for a decade?

Let's face it, turning into a slide is not what your instincts tell you to do. And getting a quarter out of a toddler's mouth? I think the natural instinct would have been to stick my finger in there and root around for it.

I am grateful for my stepdad and his incessant chatter about safety. And that is not something my teenage self ever thought I would say!

So, here's my question for you: do you trust your instincts to keep you safe? 

I trust mine to keep me happy, for sure. My best life decisions are always guided by my heart (aka instincts). But safety? I think knowledge has shaped my instincts in that department.  

My point: maybe we should refresh our knowledge about safety every now and then, just to keep those "instincts" strong. ;-) 

Which reminds me, do you have the American Red Cross safety app on your phone? 
Go get that right now. It's free, and you can just scroll through (or quiz others) to be reminded about how to stay safe in all kinds of situations.

It'll boost those safety instincts, for sure. ;-)

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