5 strategies that helped Jaycee Dugard to survive

Sometimes a story comes along that is so captivating in both its horror and courage that we can hardly stop thinking about it.

Jaycee Dugard is on my mind a lot these days, and maybe yours, too.

Today she is the 31-year-old survivor who was snatched by a pedophile when she was 11 years old and forced to live in depravity and squalor for 18 years.

After watching Diane Sawyer’s interview with Jaycee last week, I immediately downloaded Jaycee’s memoir A Stolen Life and read it in two days.

Jaycee’s resilience to survive unimaginable and deplorable conditions, verbal and sexual abuse (resulting in the birth of two children) and nearly two decades of brainwashing left me humbled that I should EVER complain about anything or allow obstacles to stand in the way of my dreams.

When Diane Sawyer questioned how she could have possibly endured her “stolen life,” an incredibly warm, poised and grateful-to-be-alive Jayceesaid, “I can’t imagine how someone could be beaten to death.”

Jaycee pointed out that in the battle between good and evil, “good wins.”  The man and his wife who kidnapped her may have stolen her youth, but they did not take her soul.

What struck me about this poignant young woman – and a great reminder of what is true in creating success — were at least five strategies Jaycee used to keep herself sane, hopeful and moving forward.

How she even knew to do this because she was so young when she was kidnapped is beyond me.

Her strength and resolve in using these strategies, even though she had very little control over her life in captivity, points the way to how powerful and life-saving these seemingly simple strategies truly are:

1)    Journaling — She kept journals to explore who she was, to express her heartache and pain and to honor her pets.  She even had the insight to realize that journaling about her feelings lessened her pain. (Studies prove this to be true.)

2)    Finding inspiration in nature and animals – At times she took comfort in the moon because it reminded her of her Mom.  Her captors gave her pets (and then often unexpectedly took them away from her), but still she gave and received love from many cats and animals in her care through the years.  She even found comfort in the presence of a spider she namedBianca.

3)    Keeping a positive attitude – Craziness and negativity were the hallmarks of her environment, but she created a list of affirmations “to counteract the negative feelings I have inside.”
Some of her affirmations included: “I make every day a positive day.” “Every day I work toward my goals.” “It’s easy for me to eat healthy.” “It’s easy for me to get up every day and exercise.” “I am a creative, positive, successful and happy person.”

4)    Exercising – Even though confined to a backyard, Jaycee had a walking path through the maze of tents, sheds and trash to give herself a physical work-out.

5)    Setting goals — Jaycee wrote down her goals, which is key to achieving them!
When she felt little hope she’d be found (we all have difficulty sometimes believing our big goals will come true), she wrote down her goals  anyway, years before she was rescued. Here were some of them:

  • See Mom
  • Ride in a hot-air balloon
  • Learn to drive
  • Touch a whale
  • Take a train ride
  • Learn something new
  • See all the people I care about
  • Learn two different languages
  • Travel around the world
  • Horseback ride on the beach every day
  • Write a best seller

Congratulations to you, Jaycee. Thank you for being brave enough to turn your sorrow into triumph and point the way for the rest of us. I have a feeling every single one of your dreams is coming true!

I hope Jaycee’s journey inspires you as it did me to work through any obstacle and to be free to live the life of your dreams.

For this week, my goal is to focus on my favorite of Jaycee’s affirmations:
Every day I become the person I want to be.

Wishing that for you, too.

I would love to hear if you have any thoughts about Jaycee and her story. Please join the discussion in the comments section below.