In some gunfights, it’s best not to return fire

I heard some brilliant advice while on a combat deployment to Iraq.  I was standing next to my friend, Hoover, when some gunmen started to shoot off into the distance on a target we were about to assault.  The gunfire was nowhere close to our guys, but every trained warrior instinctively turns the barrel of their rifle and flips the trigger when bullets ring out in combat.

The whole force was getting into position to assault this target when one lone enemy gunman started to shoot off into the distance.  Assuming we’d just lost the advantage of surprise, the entire force started preparing to scrap the plan and turn this into a hasty assault when my friend Hoover recommended restraint to the ground commander.

Hoover had been in enough gunfights to know when NOT to return fire.  While everyone else in on the assault had the hair standing up on the back of their neck at the sound of this gunfire, Hoover noticed that it was indiscriminate and not aimed at anything in particular.  He convinced the ground commander that the enemy didn’t know we were preparing to assault. Instead, this was a “recon by fire” tactic.  They were shooting into the darkness, hoping it would prompt someone to hit back and give away their position in that dark night.

Deciding NOT to return fire is one of the most challenging decisions a warrior will ever make in combat.  Only the most disciplined and seasoned warriors will understand the value of NOT pulling the trigger in certain situations.  This was one of those times, and Hoover was 100% correct.

My friends Ricky and Lindsay Lewis were the targets of deliberate lies to get him fired and ruin his life.  It was a malicious attempt to ruin his life and destroy his reputation. Everything in Ricky and Lindsay’s hearts told them to return fire and shoot to kill the people who made these accusations.  Instead, they did what few others dared to do.  They chose NOT to retaliate and try to hurt the people that hurt them. 

In my recent Unbeatable interview, Ricky and Lindsay described how their dream life became a nightmare for many years because of these false claims.  Rather than destroying the people assaulting their reputation, Ricky and Lindsay realized this was one of those moments when the best course was NOT to return fire.  I wrote this article to honor Hoover, Ricky, and Lindsay for their courage NOT to return fire or retaliate against their enemies.

5 Reasons Why It Might Be Best Not to Return Fire When Attacked

1. It reduces your risk of harm: If you choose not to retaliate when attacked, you are less likely to escalate the situation and increase the risk of damage to yourself or others- even when you want to harm your enemies.

2. It avoids legal consequences: Escalation can quickly become a legal battle—the legal results are often excessive or unnecessary. By choosing not to retaliate, you can avoid any legal repercussions.

3. It preserves your reputation: Ricky and Lindsay’s reputation was already damaged by these accusations.  Sometimes, a long, public debate or legal battle can shatter what’s already fractured. Retaliation can make you appear unprofessional or immature. You can maintain your dignity and professionalism by choosing not to return fire.

4. It de-escalates the situation: Many people would be dead without Hoover’s sage advice. By not retaliating, you can defuse a situation or potentially de-escalate it. This can lead to a more peaceful and amicable resolution.

5. It protects your mental health: Retaliation can fuel feelings of anger, frustration, and bitterness, which can negatively impact your mental health. By choosing not to retaliate, you can protect your mental health and avoid unnecessary stress.

It’s natural to want to return fire in a battle and to retaliate against someone who has hurt you.  However, just because it feels right doesn’t always make it the best course of action. There are plenty of cases when you should return fire for fire.  Be courageous enough to defend yourself most of the time, but be wise enough to know when NOT to return fire sometimes.

Listen to my whole interview with Ricky and Lindsay to hear their story.

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