Friday, February 15, 2013

Personal Resilience 101: Personal Control

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
~Serenity Prayer~
If there is a situation that you do not like in your life, it’s time for you assume responsibility to change it, regardless of its root cause. This stance empowers you and releases you from the disempowering stance of “blaming others” and “situations” from preventing you from experiencing the life you are willing to work for to experience.

Robert Brooks, PH.D and Sam Goldstein, PH.D., writes in The Power of Resilience, “Assuming personal control and responsibility is a fundamental underpinning of a resilient mindset, one that affects all other features of this mindset and serves as a catalyst for changing negative scripts.” Most of us have experienced unexpected stressors that hindered our effectiveness to take productive action. There are many among us who have decided to abdicate the responsibility for their life. They have chosen to wait on someone else to change or the situation to change before they consider the notion that they can create change by changing how they are responding to the matter. Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People wrote that “effective people focus on what they can control, spending little, if any, time and energy on matters that are beyond their sphere of influence.”

Become the Author of Your Life

Are you guilty of waiting for someone else to change before you take action towards changing a situation in your life? Why do you often find yourself repeating this behavior in many of your relationships? To experience the change you want, you have to first change yourself. This is the first step towards taking personal control of your life and taking charge of being the author of your lifetime story.
Your feelings, thoughts and behaviors can become so predictable that you don’t recognize when you are following a “conditioned” script that may or may not serve your present best interest. Coping strategies that may have worked for you as a child or in your teens may be inadequate for the challenges and responsibilities that you face as an adult. When you accept personal control over your life, you accept the responsibility for embracing the journey of personal growth to ensure that your thoughts, feelings and behaviors are relevant and tailored to your present needs and aspirations. It serves you no good to nurture past scripts that are ineffective in helping you cope with the change, challenges and/or adversity that you may be experiencing right now.

Resilient people make it a point to be aware of how their thoughts, feelings and behaviors are impacting their current levels of happiness and personal effectiveness. They take responsibility for managing and changing them to produce results aligned with their needs and aspirations. You can desperately search and hope that others will change so that you can be happier and more successful OR you can take personal responsibility for revising your internal scripting and changing your response to the situations that you face.

Self - Awareness is Key

There are numerous internal roadblocks that could be causing you to engage in counterproductive behavior. Only when you begin to make time to understand yourself and the sabotaging internal scripting that fuel any of your self-sabotaging behavior will you be able to address them with effective action. Reflective exercises increase your self-understanding and your capacity to make permanent personal change. The following exercise taken from the book, The Power of Resilience serve as a simple guide for understanding the power of internal scripts and how they could be hindering you from bouncing back from unexpected change, challenges and adversities.
  1. List three things in your life that you would like to change.
  2. Next to each item, indicate whether you believe that someone else has to change before your change can take place.
  3. Consider steps you have taken in the past to make these changes. Why do you think you were unsuccessful?
  4. List three modifications you have made to a "conditioned" script that has proven successful.
  5. Why do you think they were effective?

We all face the dilemma of feeling as if we don’t have the time or emotional energy necessary to engage in re-writing internal scripts that have for the most part become a part of your automatic behavior response system. But it is wise for each of us to reflect on the cost of continuing to follow the same old ineffective scripts day after day, month after month, year after year.
It is important for each of us to be realistic about the amount of time it takes to re-write scripts that have been a part of our identity since childhood. If we are not realistic about it, we will heap more stress on ourselves when the change we desire continue to be imagined but never our reality. Some of us can correct things on our own. Others need the help and support of others. There is no shame in seeking wise advice and help. We are divinely designed to be interdependent creatures.

If our plan of action has proven to be ineffective over a period of time, we should consider how it is in our best interest to continue using it. If our thoughts, feelings and behaviors are not producing what we desire, it is our responsibility to take personal control and embrace a course of practices that will help us develop thought and behavior patterns that leads to our desired change. Do not succumb to one of the prevailing attitudes in our pop culture, “Whatever I do will not work, so why try?” This belief only feeds into defeatism or learned helplessness. It only weakens our sense of personal control which makes it difficult to cultivate a resilient mindset.
Taking personal control of your life and cultivating a resilient mindset prepares and positions you to discover more productive and effective ways in which you can experience the well-being that you desire in life.

It’s Your Move ~ Aspire Higher