Jessica Buchanan: Survival Against Impossible Odds

Mark speaks with Jessica Buchanan, a humanitarian worker and activist who was kidnapped and held hostage for 93 days in Somalia. Today, Jessica works to help women foster their authentic self-expression through the development of their own manifestos.

Today, Commander Divine speaks with Jessica Buchanan, a humanitarian worker and activist who was kidnapped and held hostage for 93 days in Somalia. Jessica miraculously survived to tell the tale in her memoir, Impossible Odds: The Kidnapping of Jessica Buchanan and her Dramatic Rescue by SEAL Team VI. In this episode, Jessica recounts her experience in captivity, how she coped and healed after survival, and how her kidnapping ultimately led her to a greater purpose.

Key Takeaways:

  • Finding strength in the unthinkable. As a teacher from Ohio, Jessica never thought such an extraordinary event could ever happen to her. But her experience taught her that not only was she not immune to having bad things happen to her, but she also learned she’s a whole lot tougher than she ever gave herself credit for. She says that she can now look back on her story as a reminder of her inner strength in moments of imposter syndrome.

  • Trust your gut. The night before her kidnapping, Jessica’s intuition was screaming at her not to travel to southern Somalia as she was instructed to do for work. In fact, she tried to cancel the work engagement twice, but was pressured by her colleague to go. The whole night before her kidnapping, she had nightmares that she was being kidnapped by pirates. She says her decision to go anyway was the biggest self-abandonment moment of her life. She has since vowed to always go with her gut, no matter what.

  • Finding humor in a hopeless place. Jessica says she relied on her “warped sense of humor” to keep her hopeful and strong over the course of her 93-day kidnapping. At one point, when her captors locked the keys inside all 3 getaway vehicles, she turned to her co-hostage and said, “It's official, we’ve been kidnapped by the world's dumbest pirates.” Humor is a hope-builder.

  • Surviving survival is not a linear process. Jessica says that surviving her survival has been two steps forward and 10 steps back. Whether you’ve experienced large or small traumas, you just don't know what's going to trigger you from day to day, so be gentle with yourself.

When life gives you lemons... Jessica made use of her 93 days in captivity examining every memory she could remember from her life. During this healing process, she reflected, analyzed, and deeply forgave others and herself. (This is actually very similar to an ancient practice called “recapitulation” from the ancient Toltec warriors.) From the ashes of her traumatic kidnapping, Jessica has now built a daily spiritual practice of meditation and journaling, which has become crucially supportive in her business working with women.

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