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How to Get Out of Something That Just Isn`t Working

How to Get Out of Something That Just Isn`t Working

Sometimes in car accidents, the vehicles involved become so entangled and crushed that people inside need to be extricated in order to be saved. Firefighters use the “jaws of life” along with many other tools to get the patients free, and as a volunteer firefighter, I have helped to do this several times. I have also been a volunteer at a Victim Support Unit, and I think there are some interesting parallels that can be drawn between being extricated from a smashed up car and extricating ourselves from abusive situations or other times when we feel trapped.

The first thing we do as firefighters when we arrive on a scene is size up the situation. We deploy signs to tell motorists that there is an emergency scene ahead. As we drive up, we assess the number and type of vehicles involved — the 9-1-1 calls are not always accurate — and immediately radio for additional resources if we can tell we will need more firefighters or ambulances on the scene. The next two people out of the truck do inner and outer surveys of the scene, looking for victims and checking for hazards that will affect the extrication. Everyone else gets the tools ready.

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Similarly, you will need to size up your situation. If you are in an abusive relationship, you will need to have a very good plan in place and you’ll need some other resources to leave safely. Contact your local police department, victim support unit or women’s centre so they can help you make a safety plan. There are a great deal of hazards in leaving an abuser, so do not take them lightly. If you are in an unbearable job situation — that is, you feel like you can’t leave but know you must — or considering another major life change, you may also need the support of family and friends. Do some research before changing careers or seek out a career counselor. Size up your money situation so you are clear on your expenses versus desired income. Make a plan for when/how you will leave, apply for other jobs or enroll in training courses. When making any major life change, planning always helps.

The next thing firefighters do is stabilize the vehicle the person is trapped in. This involves putting blocks under it, or using straps or jacks to make sure it won’t shift while we do our work. Similarly, you can take steps to stabilize your situation before you begin the actual extrication — save up some extra money if you can, think carefully about the best time to leave, and do anything else you can to prepare. You may want to talk to your doctor if you think your health might be affected by this big change.

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Now, we get to work.

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    The firefighter in charge will decide the best course of action to remove the vehicle from around the person. Then, as a team, we get the tools we need to implement that plan and start breaking glass, cutting, prying or bending metal. A firefighter or paramedic will usually get into the vehicle with the injured person and talk them through what is going on and reassure them that they will be out soon. The rest of us use the jaws of life, reciprocating saws, hydraulic, pneumatic and even hand tools to cut the vehicle so that the person can be removed as carefully and quickly as possible. We never rush this step (moving the person) unless it becomes a “life over limb” situation, such as the vehicle has caught fire or the person’s condition is deteriorating to critical.

    If your situation is serious, such as a violent, abusive relationship, you will not be able to extricate yourself, but you can call the right people to help you. They will know the steps to take. If you are not in any physical danger, such as the person who is changing jobs, then the next step is just do it! Take a deep breath and carry out your plan. Believe that it will all work out for the best!

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    Usually, once the trapped person is free, they are loaded into an ambulance and the medics take over. When you are extricated from your nasty situation, realize that you might need some “first aid” too. You might want to get some counseling. Be kind to yourself if you can tell you aren’t coping very well. Don’t make any other changes for a while and use stress management techniques — get enough sleep, drink enough water and eat fresh foods. Big changes take time to adjust to, so don’t expect it to be over instantly, especially if you’ve “been injured.”

    Lastly, forgive yourself for letting yourself get into the situation. Like an MVA, it was an accident. You didn’t mean for this to happen, but it did. Forgive yourself and the whole situation for being what it was — that will help you let go and move on more than any other “action” you can take.

    So, next time you are in a traffic jam wondering why all the traffic is stopped, remember, it could be a group of firefighters saving someone’s life up ahead. Rather than be annoyed, be grateful that we have people dedicated to the fire service. (In the US and Canada, 70% – 80% of firefighters are volunteer.)

    Featured photo credit: In to the fire, a Firefighter searches for possible survivors via Shutterstock and inline photo by Tom Bech via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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    Last Updated on January 21, 2020

    The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

    The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

    Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

    your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

      Why You Need a Vision

      Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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      How to Create Your Life Vision

      Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

      What Do You Want?

      The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

      It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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      Some tips to guide you:

      • Remember to ask why you want certain things
      • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
      • Give yourself permission to dream.
      • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
      • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

      Some questions to start your exploration:

      • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
      • What would you like to have more of in your life?
      • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
      • What are your secret passions and dreams?
      • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
      • What do you want your relationships to be like?
      • What qualities would you like to develop?
      • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
      • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
      • What would you most like to accomplish?
      • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

      It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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      What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

      Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

      A few prompts to get you started:

      • What will you have accomplished already?
      • How will you feel about yourself?
      • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
      • What does your ideal day look like?
      • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
      • What would you be doing?
      • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
      • How are you dressed?
      • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
      • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
      • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

      It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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      Plan Backwards

      It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

      • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
      • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
      • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
      • What important actions would you have had to take?
      • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
      • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
      • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
      • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
      • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

      Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

      It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

      Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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