Monday, August 17, 2015

The Bounce Back Guide for People Ready to Throw in the Towel

Opposition is a natural part of life. Just as we develop our physical muscles through overcoming opposition such as lifting weights we develop our character muscles by overcoming challenges and adversity.
~Stephen R. Covey~

Every day millions of people are faced with disappointments, heartache and adversity. They say things like, “This is just too much for me to handle.”
“What’s the use, nothing I do seems to work?”
“My life will never be the same.”
“Why do I keep getting the short end of the stick?”
“It’s taking me forever to get my life back on track.”

My friend, life is a smorgasbord of experiences. Some of them we love and some of them, not so much. When we experience disappointments, obstacles and setbacks the ‘word in our heart’ plays a crucial role in our ability to bounce back from adverse circumstances. The ‘word in our heart’ is a reflection of the beliefs, assumptions, and emotional interpretations we attribute to the meaning of an experience.  

In his book, Learned Optimism, Dr. Martin Seligman Ph.D. writes, “Your way of explaining events to yourself determines how helpless you become, or how energized when you encounter the everyday setbacks as well as momentous defeats…your explanatory style reflects the ‘word in your heart’.” When you choose to look at a challenging situation from an empowering perspective, this perspective increases the likelihood that the story you tell yourself empowers you to believe in your ability to bounce back and thrive versus telling yourself a story that diminishes your faith and trust in yourself which causes you to wallow in self-pity and a state of learned helplessness.  

Steve Pavlina writes, “Events are neutral. What causes you to feel a certain way is how you interpret an event, how you think about it. The same event (even one as serious as the death of someone close to you) will be interpreted differently by different people. You were taught to interpret certain events to yourself as tragic while other people on the planet were taught to celebrate these same events. The event itself has no meaning, but the meaning you assign to it (whether done consciously or unconsciously) is what causes you to feel a certain way.”  

For many people Pavlina’s statement is viewed as heresy because it goes against what they have been conditioned to believe. However, after experiencing several deaths of family members, including my parents and son, I believe with no uncertainty that the reason I was able to move beyond the emotional pain of these experiences and bounce back from them better, stronger and wiser came down to God’s grace and my ability to transform the meaning I’d attributed to each experience.  

So often, when we are facing difficulty, the experience discolors our perspective. We begin to focus our attention and emotional energy ONLY on the not-so-good experience allowing it define who we are, what we can do and what is possible in our lives. This way of thinking leads to a limiting perspective of ourselves and what’s possible in our lives. It diminishes our hope for experiencing better and reduces the emotional energy we desperately need to rise above the circumstance.

Some of the things you believe were never true. They were someone else's fears. Give yourself a chance to examine your thoughts Change those that are negative. You are deserving.
~Louise Hay~

Consider the Possibility of New Possibilities

Because we have a tendency to believe everything we think, we have to be willing to examine our thoughts and challenge those that are not in alignment with our desired experience. Otherwise, when our thoughts go unexamined, especially during difficult times, our lives can be hijacked by emotional reasoning which can derail our efforts to getting back on track. 

In the Art of Possibility, Rosamond Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander writes, “…many of the circumstances that seem to block us in our daily lives may only appear to do so base on a framework of assumptions we carry with us. Every story you tell yourself is based on a network of assumptions.” The Zander’s point out, “Draw a different frame around the same set of circumstances and new pathways come into view.” When you begin to examine the ‘word in your heart’ and start to challenge limiting beliefs about yourself and what’s possible in a situation you open yourself up to experience new possibilities. 

This possibility has within it the power to blow many of the limiting beliefs and misconceptions you have about yourself and your experience to smithereens. Many breakthroughs come from simply believing a new idea has validity. Admitting the existence of a new possibility sets in motion the probability that you could perceive and approach your situation from a more empowering perspective. 

When you rely solely on your own understanding during a challenging experience, especially one which you have no experience or have had a lousy track record for success, you suffer from a shortage of data. Increasing your level of success requires that you develop a fresh perspective on the situation which will help you cultivate a spiritual and mental fortitude that fuels your emotional energy. Your bounce back success and ability to thrive during and after a difficulty come down to developing mental and emotional fortitude and exercising effective self-leadership habits.

Always seek out the seed of triumph in every adversity.
~ Og Mandino ~

How to Bounce Back and Thrive in the Face of Difficulty

Oprah writes, “What I know for sure is that no matter where you stand right now - on a hilltop, in a gutter, at a crossroads, in a rut – you need to give yourself the best you have to offer in this moment. This is it. Rather than depleting yourself with judgments about what you haven’t done who you could have become, why you haven’t moved faster, or what should have changed, redirect this energy toward the next big push – the one that takes you from enough to better. The one that takes you from adequate to extraordinary. The one that helps you rise up from a low moment and reach for your personal best.”  

From my personal and professional experience, I know that nothing changes in our lives without a change in our inner-game. Also, without initiating corresponding actions relevant to a desired change, we will continue to miss our desired aim. This leads to frustration and disappointment. And if we don’t muster up the determination necessary to try again, we will begin to accept the status quo as the best we can experience. This my friend, can lead to living in a state of learned helplessness and accepting the notion that we are powerless to create the change we desire.   

The actions in this guide debunks the notion that you aren’t capable of bouncing back from difficulty better, stronger and wiser. You are smart enough. You are strong enough. In the midst of this difficulty, there is a seed of an equivalent advantage. A fresh perspective will help you see that you have what it takes to bounce back and thrive during and after a difficulty.

Step 1: Acknowledge the Truth of Your Reality. 

Self-awareness is the starting point for creating change. A sure fire way of getting and remaining stuck in a disempowering cycle of beliefs and behavior is the denial of the truth about how your feel and the circumstances that led to experiencing your present reality. Whether you had a hand at directly creating the situation or not, getting on track and moving forward from where you are by acknowledging your truth.

It’s important to understand that your perception of the truth is your perception. Your perception of most experiences depends largely on the meaning you attach to them. It is possible for others involved in the situation to have a different perception of it. That’s okay. This step is not about being right or wrong. It’s simply about ending any denial or suppression on your part about what you truthfully feel and think about the situation. Instead of numbing yourself, acknowledging your truth helps you to get real and tune-in to the thoughts and emotions shaping your perception of the situation. You can’t change what you refuse to acknowledge.

Do This: Show yourself some tender loving kindness with a judgment free zone (this means that you accept the fact that you have every right to feel and think the way that you do). Get out a few blank pieces of paper or your journal and begin to write down your true feelings and thoughts about the situation. Write until you feel you’ve put the core of what you feel and think about the situation on paper. Remember, this is a judgment free zone. It’s your truth.

Step 2: Identify the Meaning You’ve Attached to the Experience.

In his book, The Law of Agreements, Tony Burroughs points out, “Your agreement is your point of power, and you can add to or weaken any idea or commonly held belief simply by making a choice. We have within us, in each moment of our lives, the ability to discern- to decide whether something is working for us or not – and to choose to agree with it and make it stronger, or to say “Hey, I don’t think this is working for my highest good.” In order for you to exercise this power, you have to first, develop an awareness of your inner-states and second, take personal control of your life.

Your beliefs about your situation reflect agreements you’ve made unconsciously or consciously about it. Today is just as good as any to end your allegiance to beliefs and assumptions that limit your power to take the purpose-driven actions necessary for you to pull up your stakes and move forward.

Now that you’ve acknowledged the truth about what you feel and think about the situation. The following questions will help you tune-in to the story you are telling yourself about why you feel and think you can’t bounce back from this difficulty.

1. What are the agreements (the beliefs and ideas you have bought into) that are influencing your lack of progress in this situation?
2. What factual evidence do you have that proves your beliefs and assumptions about what isn’t possible are true?
3. What are the emotional interpretations (the meaning you’ve attached to the experience) driving the beliefs and assumptions you have about what isn’t possible in the situation?
4. In what ways have this meaning (the story you are telling yourself about the situation) diminished your ability to bounce back and thrive in the face of this difficulty?
5. In what ways have this meaning (the story you are telling yourself about the situation) supported your ability to bounce back and thrive in the face of this difficulty?

Acknowledging the truth of how you feel and think about your circumstance and answering the above questions provide you with a level of self-awareness that has within it the power to help you see how your perception (your beliefs, assumptions and emotional interpretations) is shaping what you feel and how you are responding to your situation. Identifying the meaning you’ve attached to your experience allows you to examine your perception and determine if that perspective is working in your best interest or not.

Step 3: Be All In.

Adopting an empowering perspective about who you are and what you’re capable of doing enables you to harness your power and be proactive toward what you decide to believe and do to experience better in the situation.

Stop overthinking. It fuels self-doubt and leads to procrastination and stagnation. Creating momentum in your situation requires that you get off the fence. You’ve got to be more than just interested in bouncing back and thriving in the face of this difficulty. You’ve got to be committed. The difference between interest and commitment is reflected in the energy of the actions you exhibit.

When interest becomes commitment it fuels a passionate determination within your soul that ignites your faith and provokes the strength of your spirit. The courage dwelling in you will be stirred up as you seek to find ways to make what may seem as impossible possible. Exhibiting this level of desire towards the change you want to experience has within it the power to create a new reality.

You may be saying to yourself, “Jackie, I’ve done all that I can do, and nothing has changed.” If this is the case, then you’re probably feeling frustrated and angry. I would be as well. This is perfectly normal. The first hurdle you’ve got to get over toward creating a new reality in this situation is yourself. It’s up to you to learn how to manage your thoughts and emotions so that they are not a hindrance to your progress. Private victories always precede public victories.

What I’m challenging you to consider is this: what you feel is important; however, what you believe and do is just as important. And in this step, you need to demand more from yourself. You’ve got to rise above any negative emotional reasoning about your situation and dig deeper then you’ve done in the past to tap into the reservoir of strength in your spirit. 

You have what it takes to accomplish the actions necessary to manifest the breakthrough you desire. Realizing a new possibility requires radical faith and a willingness to take radical actions which can release the untapped potential dwelling in you to manifest your vision of possibility.

Step 4: Mind the Gap. 

In this last step, closing the gap between where you are and where you want to be involves developing and exhibiting effective self-leadership habits.

You can have in life what you are willing to be. One of the most effective ways I know how to develop the mindset and habits essential to achieving any goal is the adoption of identity-based beliefs and actions. Identifying the personal attributes of the person capable of manifesting a particular aim will help you develop the mindset and habits essential to your breakthrough.  When your actions are aligned with the change you desire to experience, you will increase your chance of making your desire a reality.

The following self-leadership habits will empower you to create and maintain congruency between what you say you want and what you desire to experience.

1.      Tune-In to Your Strong Moments. There have been moments in your life when you were faced with challenging situations and instead of floundering under the pressure from them you reacted to them from a place of strength that you didn’t know that you had in you. You were energized by them and perceptive enough to identity what it would take to move forward.  Remembering to remember your strong moments enables you to galvanize your strengths and identify what works and what doesn’t work for you to reach a successful outcome in a challenging situation.

2.     Identify Your Compelling Why. You possess the power to utilize your imagination to create new realities. This power is activated by a clear vision of what you desire and a compelling reason that stirs your soul as to why you must make this vision a reality in your life. When your desire is attached to a compelling why that incites a sense of purpose and passion within you, you’ll begin to stir up the gifts within you by initiating bold moves towards what you want to experience. And these bold moves will enable you to step into your authentic power.

3.     Cultivate a Growth Mindset. Unless you do something beyond what you have already mastered you will never grow. In her book, Mindset, Carol Dweck, Ph.D.  explains that individuals with a growth mindset approach life with a curiosity to learn. They believe their intelligence and talents are dynamic and adaptable. Whereas, individuals with a fixed mindset approach life wanting to look smart. They believe their intelligence and talents are static. Adopting a growth mindset which nurtures you to believe that you can learn more, be more and do more and experience more in life enlarges your capacity to become the person that can manifest your desired reality.

4.     Be a Person of Excellence. Nothing speaks more about what you believe than the quality of the actions you exhibit on a daily basis toward the change you desire. Being a person of excellence is not about striving for perfection. It is a commitment on your part to show up on a consistent basis exhibiting your A-game in the arena. It’s stretching yourself beyond preconceived limits. It’s increasing your knowledge and sharpening your skills and talents so that you put forth your personal best.

5.     Develop Resilient Relationships.  Robert Brooks Ph.D. and Sam Goldstein Ph.D., co-authors of The Power of Resilience write, “Regardless of our age or how secure and confident we feel, if we are to strengthen and maintain our optimism and resilience, it is essential that we interact with people who accept us and from whom we gather strength.” They go on to say, “If we are to nurture and maintain meaningful, emotionally satisfying connections and lead a resilient lifestyle, it is equally important for us to serve and be in the company of …someone we gather strength from on an ongoing basis.” The people we spend the most time with influence our capacity to be resilient and sense of belonging. Resilient relationships involves a mutual give and take, high levels of trust, caring and openness, and a sense of security and safety.

6.     Embrace Gratitude. Mihaly Csikszentimihaly states, “People who learn how to control their inner experiences will be able to determine the quality of their lives, which is as close as any of us of can come to being happy.” When you’re going through a difficulty, you need all the emotional energy you can summon to take steps towards creating the change you desire. Your energy follows your thoughts. Develop the practice of gratitude by making it a priority on a daily basis to acknowledge at least three things that went well during the day. This practice helps to prevent you from allowing a temporary condition overshadow all that is good in your life. In the midst of difficulty, use the energy of gratitude to anchor your emotions and focus your attention and energy towards executing your next steps to move forward.

In Conclusion

Although the challenge you face may have you feeling as if you are in the eye of a storm, believe in the strength residing in your spirit. You are full of “can do” power. Remember to remember your strong moments as they are a reminder of what you have overcome and what you’re capable of. 

You are in the right place at the right time to learn the lessons necessary for your spiritual, emotional, and psychological development. The wisdom and insights gained from this experience help to cultivate mental, emotional and spiritual fortitude which will serve as an advantage for you, now and in the future. 

The thoughts, beliefs, perceptions and assumptions that make up the stories you tell yourself about how smart and strong you are and what you’re capable of handling in life and what you’re worthy of experiencing have a huge impact on the course of your life. In Find Your Courage Margie Warrell writes, “Given that our actions are based on the realities we define regarding whom we are and what we are capable of achieving, our lives are either limited or expanded by the stories we have devised.”

You’ve no doubt heard the saying, “If you keep doing what you’ve been doing, you’ll keep getting what you have been getting.” The challenge that you face cannot be solved by telling yourself disempowering stories that diminish your hope, faith and courage. As you demonstrate self-acceptance, practice radical self-love and transform limiting beliefs about what’s possible in your circumstance, you will begin to develop a fresh perspective towards yourself and your situation and be more apt to initiate the actions necessary to bring about the change you desire.

Understand this, any time you initiate actions that challenge the status quo, you will experience resistance within yourself and from those accustomed to you being a certain way. Expect it. Do not get upset about it. It is a normal part of any transition process. It's important to manage your thoughts and emotions so that you remain committed to taking action everyday towards what you desire. Before lending your agreement to any belief, ask yourself, “Will this belief add to my well-being?” Get in agreement with beliefs that inspire you to improve the quality of your life. They will help fuel your consistent execution of purpose-driven actions necessary for manifesting a new possibility.

Be mindful of how your emotional armor can inhibit you from living wholeheartedly. In Daring Greatly, BrenĂ© Brown writes, “As children we found ways to protect ourselves from vulnerability, from being hurt, diminished and disappointed. We put on armor, we used our thoughts, emotions and behaviors as weapons; and we learned how to make ourselves scarce, even to disappear. Now as adults, we realize that to live with courage, purpose, and connection – to be the person whom we long to be- we must again be vulnerable. We must take off the armor, put down the weapon, show up, and let ourselves be seen.”

Daring to be brave requires you to embrace vulnerability. Although it may be a scary thought, the reality is, as long as you live, you will always be vulnerable. It’s not a matter of whether you are vulnerable. It’s a matter of whether you will be proactive and be vulnerable in ways that expand your capacity to express your authentic power!

This guide is an excerpt from my book Get Unstuck Now. It is available at

If you're living in or near the Columbia, SC area, I will be presenting the LIVE version of my new program, Get Unstuck & Get Moving Master Class in October 2015. Subscribe today to Grow Forward & Flourish to get information on early bird registration discount.

Be Your Bravest Self