Thursday, February 7, 2013

Blog Series Intro: Personal Resilience 101



Life doesn’t get easier or more forgiving; we get stronger and more resilient.”
Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free


From time to time, we will feel dissatisfied with our life. Our dissatisfaction can be rooted in challenges from strained relationships, financial stress, bewilderment over our career, to sabotaging beliefs such as “what’s the use of trying sense nothing I can do will really changes anything”. Most of us have been conditioned to put up a good front when all hell seems to be breaking loose in our lives. We manage somehow to pull ourselves out of bed, even when we feel as if we have nothing more to give, just so that ends are met and that we look okay from the outside. During these periods of quiet desperation, when we feel like nothing seems to be working out, or going as we’d hoped or planned, it’s critical to our spiritual, mental and emotional well-being that we cultivate and nurture a resilient mindset.
According to Robert Brooks PH.D. and Sam Goldstein, PH.D., authors of The Power of Resilience: Achieving Balance, Confidence and Personal Strength in Your Life, “Possessing a resilient mindset does not imply that one is free from stress, pressure, and conflict, but rather that one can successfully cope with problems as they arise.”  Brooks and Goldstein assert, “Resilient individuals are those who have a set of assumptions or attitudes about themselves that influence their behavior and the skills they develop. We call this set of assumptions a mindset.” A resilient mindset, says the authors, is composed of several main features:

·         Feeling in control of one’s life

·         Knowing how to fortify one’s stress hardiness

·         Being empathic

·         Displaying effective communications and other interpersonal capabilities

·         Possessing solid problem-solving and decision-making skills

·         Establishing realistic goals and expectations

·         Learning from both success and failure

·         Being compassionate and contributing members of society

·         Living a responsible life based on a set of thoughtful values

·         Feeling special (not self-centered) while helping others to feel the same

These particular features of a resilient mindset serve as a guidepost for individuals seeking to better manage everyday challenges and unexpected adversities. They enable each of us with the ability to foster an inner-strength that will increase our capacity to cope effectively with life while at the same time move forward to live our life with purpose, passion and perseverance.

Living in Quiet Desperation

During most of the periods of my life in which I occupied a state of quiet desperation, I can recall putting on the social mask of being a “strong black woman doing what she had to do to get by” while all the time I was shackled by mental and emotional chains that seemed to want to snuff the very life out of me. I can also remember how I was able to lean into the strength of my spirit as a teen after my mother’s death to move beyond it once I made up my mind to do so, without experiencing the degree of mental and emotional anguish I experienced as an adult after adversities. The difference in my experience as a teen and that of an adult boiled down to the assumptions, beliefs and expectations that I had about myself at each particular point in my life.
 As a teen, I was na├»ve to life and believed wholeheartedly that there was nothing that I couldn’t handle with God. Despite the sadness, lack of security and grief that I experienced after my mother’s death, I believed that my life had a purpose in which only I could fulfill. I felt in the depth of my heart that I had to figure out a way to move beyond the state of depression that was hovering over my life. As I grew older, I had more baggage to consider. I wasn’t nearly as perfect as I believed myself to be when I was a child. I had made some choices that would be life-changing. My faith in myself and in the vision that I had of my life when I was a child begin to succumb to the weight of my negative self-talk, the lack of family support and a personal relationship that resulted in me experiencing domestic violence.

Fortunately, God is a God of new mercies and second, third, fourth etc… chances! With a renewed faith in a God that is good all the time and the application of His word in my daily life, I began to turn my life around in my 20’s. I was able to tap into the strength of my spirit, recognize the limitations in my thinking and how they had contained my life and talents. With childlike faith I believed that nothing was impossible unto God. God proved to me that he is faithful to his word. From an hourly staff position, I began to develop my personal leadership skills which were based on taking personal responsibility for my life and ending the blame game that had consumed me for some years. I used the lessons of personal leadership to foster the development of my competency as a successful professional manager and leader. Because of my role as a business leader and the unexpected death of my son, Blease, I came face to face with how life can throw knock out blows simultaneously and how critical it is to have a resilient mindset. Outside of my faith in Jesus, I know that I would not have been able to get my life back on track had it not been for the resilient mindset that had been nurtured by adversity over the course of my life. I would go on to experience great professional success while at the same time grieving the loss of my son. Only by the grace of God. His grace continues to be sufficient. My life is a testimony to this fact.
Moving Beyond Quiet Desperation

During periods of quiet desperation, we know deep down that there has to be some other way to live, a better way to look at the world, a way to embrace life with greater happiness and satisfaction. Despite a constant undercurrent of dissatisfaction with our life, during these times each of us has the capacity to hear the wisdom the dwells within each of our spirit. The still small voice of our spirit nudges us to believe that better is possible. We ask ourselves, “How is it that I can create better in this situation?” “Where would I start?” You can begin to create the change in your life that will enable you to experience better by developing and nurturing a resilient mindset. By putting into practice the features and components of resiliency identified by Robert Brooks PH.D. and Sam Goldstein PH.D. in their book, The Power of Resilience: Achieving Balance, Confidence and Personal Strength in Your Life, you can increase your capacity to be resilient in the face of everyday challenges and unexpected adversity.
Starting Friday, February 15, 2013, I will present the 6 part blog series: Personal Resilience 101 for the next six Fridays. I've chosen Friday so that readers have the weekend to reflect and determine how they can put the suggestions into practice for the coming week. Each blog post will feature several of the insights gleaned from the book, The Power of Resilience with the purpose of enabling you to cultivate a resilient mindset. The suggestive practices of each feature and/or component of resiliency outlined in the book offers you an opportunity to build your inner-strength. You can cultivate the resiliency necessary to better manage and cope with the challenges and opportunities for change unfolding in your life. This is a journey worth taking. I hope and pray that as you engage the blog series: Personal Resilience 101 you will share your insights with others on the blog, as well as with your social network community, so that they too will be encouraged and strengthen by your experiences.

It’s Your Move ~ Aspire Higher