You Can Become More Resilient!

Diagram of Resilience

“How can you think yourself a great man, when the first accident that comes along can wipe you out completely.”
 — Euripides

Did you know that no matter where you are in your life, you can become more resilient? Resilience is a hot topic and has been for the past few years. Every week more research looks into the topic of resilience. More therapist are realizing the importance of helping client learn to become more resilient.

The subject of resilience in positive psychology deals with the ability to cope with whatever life throws at you. Some people can be knocked down by life and return as a stronger person than ever before. These people are called resilient. Did you know that you can learn how to become more resilient?

A resilient person works through challenges by using personal resources, strengths and other positive capacities of psychological and spiritual capital such as faith, hope, optimism, and self-efficacy. Overcoming a crisis by resiliency is often described as “bouncing back” to a normal state of functioning. Being resilient is also positively associated with happiness.

“If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.”

We define resilience very merely as a steady trajectory of healthy functioning after a highly adverse event.

Dr. George Everly defines resilience as the ability to withstand, adapt to, or rebound from extreme challenges or adversity.

Dr. George Bonanno defines it this way: By resilience is meant the ability of individuals exposed to a potentially highly disruptive event to maintain both healthy psychological, spiritual and physical functioning and the capacity for positive emotions.

Personal resilience, what we sometimes think of as psychological body armor (a term credited to and copywriter by Dr. George Everly), is your ability to bounce back, to pick yourself up and try again, and again and again until your either succeed or decide on a more productive direction.

Resilience is your ability to see yourself in the dark abyss of failure, humiliation or depression-and bounce back, not only to where you were before, but to even greater heights of success, happiness, intentionality, and inner strength.

Resilience helps you withstand adversity. It gives you a form of immunity that enables you to make the right decisions under pressure, motivates you to move forward and always allows you to bounce back quickly and effectively.

Resilience gives you an edge when things get tough in your relationships.

The great news is that research reveals five factors for personal resilience.

  1. Active Optimism– It’s the inclination to move forward while others are retreating. But to do so much lead to …
  2. Decisive Action— You have to make a conscious choice to be decisive and to act to move forward. Clare Boothe Luce stated, “Courage is the ladder on which all other virtues mount.” To grow, you must have the courage to make robust discussions. These decisions are much more comfortable when they are based on a…
  3. Moral Compass. For me personally, this is based on a biblical world view which is wrapped in honor, integrity, love, and ethical behavior to guide your decisions. Once you have made your decision, you much engage in…
  4. Relentless Tenacity, and determination. Be persistent, while at the same time knowing when to quit. To find hidden opportunities and aid in physical, psychological, and spiritual energy for the task rely on…
  5. Active, face to face social support. While social media is important, nothing can replace an appropriate look, word, and touch.

Why is it so important to have an active social support network?

First, it essential to life. Even the Bible talks about the importance of being connected on a personal level. Doing life together is good for your health.

Second, many researchers have discovered that social support if one of the critical components in recovering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Third, being connected can have a positive impact on your income.

Fourth, sharing your life with others invites them to share their life with you.

Fifth, having social support makes you stronger both in your personal life and in your relationships.

The ancient wisdom contained in the Book of Ecclesiastes says “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”
So, how can you begin to be intentionally connected?

All relationships are not equally supportive. Building a network of supportive friends, or even just one supportive relationship can be vital to your wellbeing.

Let me close with one of my favorite pieces of ancient literature. This ancient wisdom helps me in my personal development of resilience;

Proverbs 3:5–6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
 do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
 and he will show you which path to take. (New Living Translation)

Please check out these great links:

What Does It Mean to Be Resilient and Why Does It Matter, by my friend Danielle Bernock

Resilience and Tolerances by Seth Godin

Bonanno G. A. Loss, trauma, and human resilience: Have we underestimated the human capacity to thrive after extremely adverse events?. American Psychologist. 2004; 59: 20–28. [PubMed Abstract].[Google Scholar]

Bonanno G. A., Westphal M., Mancini A. D. Resilience to loss and potential trauma. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology. 2011; 7: 511–535. [PubMed Abstract].[Google Scholar]

Everly, George, Strouse, Douglas, McCormack, Dennis. Stronger: Develop the Resilience you need to Succeed, New YorkKindle edition, 2018. pp.265–266

2 Problem Solving Killers

What is the most recent problem solving situation that you have personally faced in the past few days?

How did it turn out?

Did you know that one trait of a person who is living a resilient life is the ability to problem solve and make good decisions?

I don’t know about you, but it seems that in the past few years with the rise of smartphones, tablets, and social media we are overwhelmed with choices which have lead to real problems for some people and that is in the are of decision making and problem solving.

There seem to two primary mindsets that keep people from dealing with the stuff in their lives. At least from my observations after living on this blue marble for over six decades.

The first is the Big D word, Denial. People that choose to live in this lane of life tend to deny the impact of problems and issues in their lives at all costs. They do their best to live in the delusional state of denial because they are scared spitless of seeing the reality that is right in from of their eyes. Because of this mindset, they develop finely tuned skills to avoid some of the tough things in life.

So where do you think this type of living leads a person? Well, in my opinion, this denial mindset will lead you down a twisted path of insecurity, anxiety, worry, fear, anger, frustrations, jealousy and a whole lot more of yucky stuff.

The second mindset of people who avoid dealing with life issues is that of being a perpetual victim. While this mindset has been around for thousands of years, it seems to be enjoying a new surge in this modern age.

The Victim mentality. People with this mindset choose to believe there is not a single that they can do to solve a problem or deal with their stuff. When, in more cases than not, they could. I have said this before, but it is like some people want to play emotional pin the tail on the donkey. They are continually seeking ways to blame either others or circumstances for all that is going wrong in their lives.

While it might give the person choosing to be a victim a little bit of relief, it will ultimately lead to anger, emotional impotence, learned helplessness and despair.
Why do so many people choose to swim in the river of denial or attempt to pin the emotional tail on the donkey by blaming circumstance on others?

The simple reason, I think is because there is a quick payoff. It gives them a rush, a buzz, and maybe some relief to push the responsibility off on someone or something else. It is a quick fix that allows the person, at least for a moment to escape life’s problems as opposed to seeing problems as an invitation to growth, and change to learn something and maybe experience grace and goodness.

Let me ask you a question.

What do you do when it comes to dealing with some of the problems that come from being a human? Do you run from them, deny them, or blame your parents, upbringing, your ex or your diagnosis? Your answer will determine whether your life will be enriching, rewarding or bland and mundane.

In my counseling and coaching practice, one of the first questions I ask a client is something along the lines of how can I help you? The replies usually sound “I want to be happier. I want more peace in my life. I want to be more successful. I want to improve my relationships.” All of these are worthy goals.

Typically, after we talk about that for a few minutes, at least to the point that I feel I have some understanding, I will they ask something like, “What are you willing to do to get it? What are you ready to change? What problems do you anticipate and how will you deal with it?

At this point, things seem to come into clear focus.

I remember a few years ago I was asked to be on the faculty of a writer’s conference at the Glorieta Christian Writer’s Conference at what used to be the Glorieta Baptist Conference Center. Part of my job was to visit with hopeful writers and authors about their dreams. Needless to say, it was a blast being able to participate in such a great event.

I remember, one of the benefits of attending this conference is that every day the staff would meeting in this large room to visit with and listen to aspiring writer’s pitching their book ideas. This was always an exciting and impressive time to meet these people, listen to their stories and proving encouragement, maybe even some further networking opportunities.

And then I began to pick up on a trend. I spoke in a massive group session on the second day and when people realized that I was a licensed professional therapist I was inundated with potential authors who wanted to tell me of their travail of abuse, and neglect. As I listened to some of these stories I begin to feel like I was back in my office as a therapist. Not a great place to be when you are providing the types of services we were at the Writer’s Conference. At dinner that evening I was processing this sudden increase in authors wanting my input to their stories with a couple of older, female authors that I really respected. Their insight was invaluable. Luckily I’d asked several of the women who’d shared their story idea with me to check back with me the following day.

Here is how it went.

Five of the ladies came back the next day, as well as a few whom I’d not yet met.

I made sure I was listening and tracking each of these unique and painful stories that these potential authors were sharing with me. And then I would say something like, “Would you like my input and suggestions? To a person, they all said yes. Here was my reply.

I want you to look around this room and see how many women are here. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center 1 in five women and one in 71 men have been raped at some time in their life. One in three women and one in six men have experienced some type of contact sexual violence in their lives. And then I would say something like, “what makes your story different? In most cases, when I asked this, I would receive a shocked look of anger, and if stares could kill, I would have died 15 times that day. Fortunately not one of the emerging heroes bailed on me.

After I made that statement, I’d keep quiet and hope that they would ask a follow-up question and they did. After the initial shock of my statement they would ask, so what did I need to do.

This is the essence of what I told them. I would start off by telling them how proud I was that they were making a bold choice to share their story, but that to separate their story from everybody else they had to share how they addressed the problem of abuse and how they overcame it. I suggested before they wrote another word in their transcript that they exam what they were learning. In marketing terms, which you might feel is a little harsh, what was their unique selling point.

What was the principle, purpose, promise or prayer they were learning or had learned as a result of no longer denying their abuse and no longer blaming others for how they were dealing with the abuse?

I have to tell you the truth here, I did not want to hurt any of the women, but at the same time I wanted to challenge them to dig deep within and write their story of how they, with God’s help, found the courage to face their challenges and move from being a victim to an overcomer.

Over the next twelve to eighteen months I heard from several of these writers who thanked me for my comments. Two of them invited me to read and comment on their drafts, and a few of the others sent me notes and emails regarding my gently calling them out. I have to tell you, these women dared to not buy into the Denial Trap or the Blame Trap. And while there is a special place in Hell for people who sexually abuse other people, these ladies absolutely refused to let the perpetrator win.

These writers wanted a better life. They were beginning to understand that real, honest, long-term fulfillment comes through how we choose to confront and manage our struggles.


To be clear, I am not talking about “no guts no glory” or “no pain, no gain.”
Instead, how we face and manage our struggles, in large part determine our happiness and our success in this present life.

My wife says it best, “We are either in a struggle, coming out of a struggle, or preparing for a struggle.”
I think she is right on target. How about you? How are you managing the problems that come at you in your day to day life?

Ancient Wisdom
“I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess the perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus is calling us.”
Philippians 4:12-14 NLT

Be sure to read my next post, when I will talk about a third way to deal with problems, which I call resilient decision making.

I would love to hear your thoughts.

Get Your Stuff Together! How to Hit the Restart Button.

Regretting that you didn’t start earlier is a great distraction from moving on your dream today, and the reality is that today is earlier than tomorrow.

Jon Acuff

Do you suffer from the paralysis of analysis? Are fear and lack of focus and holding you back?
Here is a path you can take to get moving again.

You are going to Get Your Stuff Together startin now!

Step # 1 – Get off your duff, quit making excuses and be brutally and totally honest about what you want. And aim lower! Get your stuff together!
You see you will never write the perfect book.
There will never be a perfect race.
There will never be a perfect idea.
There will never be a perfect relationship.
And you will never be a “perfect Christian,” apart from the finished work that Jesus did for you on the Cross.
There will never be a perfect meal, dessert or car. There will never be an ideal solution.
Why?
Perfection does not exist on this side of heaven.
So, what are you and I supposed to do?
Aim lower, destroy perfection and get something done. (Jon Acuff; Finish)
If you and I tend to set the bar too high, we will do a complete faceplate every time! We will haul off and do nothing and then either blame the world, our parents our ourselves, make excuses and limp off into the sunset.
There is no way we can win squat if we hold ourselves to entirely unrealistic expectations.
So, lower the bar.
If you are a nonfiction author like myself the odds of you becoming a Delia Owens, James Madison, Rachel Hollis, or Dr. Gary Chapman are pretty slim. So, aim lower! Here is a hint that helped me last year when I launched my latest book, The No Fear Entrepreneur, I found a smaller niche. And what happened, on launch day it was the #1 Best Selling Kindle, Paid, Christian Books-Christian Living-Professional Growth.
I had to get myself in a category where I could excel.
Congrats! You survived the first point, I think the most challenging thing to do is to start!

Other things to help Get Your Stuff Together to Move Forward?

Step # 2 Simplify Your Tasks.
T
he quickest way to do this is by getting more reality-based about how you invest your time.
How about this, rather than spending time on the latest time-saving app, get a small notebook, and jot down how you spend your day. Work on tracking your time use for about a week, and you will begin to get a clearer idea of how you spend your time.
As you keep this simple record, you will begin to discern the ebbs and flows of your days.
By the end of the week you should be able to have a more unobstructed view of how you use your time then you can begin to make some gentle, user-friendly adjustments that will give you more time to do the things you need to do in the nooks and crannies.

Step # 3 Get Your Mental Health Stuff Together.
Did you know that by doing just a little bit of self-care and self-management you can significantly enhance your mental health at absolutely no cost to you?
As a professional counselor for over 35 years, I have a couple of gems for you.
Often one of the best ways of dealing with anxiety-producing situations is to stare them in the face and rip their mask off and see them for what they are. If you fail to do this, you might work yourself into a hissy fit and tie yourself into a useless pile to twisted knots.
This is the type of approach to use when there is some type of kinetic response is required. This type of anxiety means that you either have to stop doing something or start doing something.
Another strategy, which may not feel very intuitive, maybe to hit the pause button and do nothing.
I use this illustration when I am teaching people how to manage their thought life.
Let’s say it is 3 minutes until quitting time and you receive a short email from your boss, it is somewhat ambiguous, short, and he/she wants to see you first thing in the morning.
Now you could get pretty worked up over something like this and even to the point of losing your appetite and missing sleep.
DON’T
The other option – you could sleep on it, pray and meditate on it and see what happens. There is a high probability that it is harmless.

Step # 4 START NOW!

If you need some help getting started email me for a free consult.

Here is a little story from an obscure Old Testament Passage.
31 After Ehud, Shamgar son of Anath rescued Israel. He once killed 600 Philistines with an ox goad. Judges 2:31 NLT
What is the lesson here?
Start where you are.
Use what you have.
Do what you can.
Trust God.

Here are some helpful resources:
Jon Acuff ’s books
Start – Much Fear in the Face and Do Work that Matters
Finish – Give Yourself the Gift of Done
Karen Porter- If You Give a Girl a Giant
Carol Dweck – Mindset
Sarah Knight – Get Your S#*t Together John Thurman- The No Fear Entrepreneur

10 Steps for Surviving a Rough and Tumble World: Part # 2

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(c) 2014 John Thurman
As I begin this installment of 10 Steps, I wanted to let you know that on I will send out the third installment of 10 Steps Thursday evening and the next three to four blogs will be be very focused on depression, and things you can do to help yourself and others get better. Growing up watching  Robin Williams, I am 62 and he was 63, it was very sad to hear about his suicide. While I strongly disagree with how some media outlets went into the gory details of his death. This sad story reminds us of the power of depression. The blogs will not be negative, but will contain principles out of my book, Get a Grip on Depression and out of 35 years of counseling.

Now back to the 10- Steps for surviving, which by the way, are key to pushing back depression and moving forward in life.

4.  Practice generosity and kindness – unselfish concern for others, being kind-hearted, philanthropic.

Ephesians 4:31-32 says, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. (NLT)

5.  Develop acceptance and cognitive flexibility, meaning the ability to learn and adapt your knowledge and thinking to new situations.

The Apostle Paul illustrated the importance of this principle in Romans 8:38-39.
“I’m convinced that nothing-living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable-absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.” (The Message)

6.  Face your fears and learn to control negative emotions.

2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” (NLT)

Philippians 4:6-8 – “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus…Fix your thoughts on what is true, honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (NLT)

7.  Build an ever-expanding tool chest of active coping skills to manage stress.

2 Peter 1:5-7 – “So don’t lose a minute in building on what you’ve been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing others. With these qualities active and growing in your lives, no grass will grow under your feet, and no day will pass without its reward as you mature in the experience of our Master Jesus.” (The Message)

I’d love to hear what you think. Feel free to comment.

10 Steps to Surviving a Rough and Tumble World: Part # 1

(c) 2014 John Thurman
By John H. Thurman Jr., M.Div., M.A. Adapted from The Survivor’s Guide, by Ben Sherwood

Ever wondered what you can do to increase your odds of winning the race of life?

Dr. Dennis Charney is the dean of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. The fifty-eight-year old is the king of resilient studies in North America. In his years of research and collaboration, he has developed what he calls the Resiliency Prescription. Here is a brief outline of it, as well as some scriptures that support his points.

1.  Practice optimism – some people are “born optimists,” others are “trained optimists.” You would think this would be a no-brainer for people of faith. Studies show… The key is to stay positive and hopeful while confronting the reality of a given situation.

Try this little test, take a quick look at this domain name:

www.opportunityisnowhere.com  (This is not a real website.)

What did you see? When some people look at this web address, they feel like someone had thrown a wet blanket on them: Opportunity is nowhere. But others see the exact opposite: Opportunity is now here. 

This is not being a “Pollyanna,” but is being in a state of mind—a way of thinking and behaving.

The Scripture refers to faith, which can be interpreted as practiced optimism.

Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives assurance about things we cannot see.” (NLT)

2.  Find a resiliency role model – someone who as done it. It can be a biblical character, a historical figure, or someone you look up to.

Once again there are countless illustrations of this principle in the Bible, but the one reference that gives us a short, but focused list is Hebrews 11:3-12:2.

In this portion of Scripture we read of the faith and resiliency of Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Rahab, and Jesus. These are all exceptional resiliency models, stories of individuals who overcame significant obstacles to glorify God and others.

3.  Develop a moral compass and unbreakable beliefs. The Bible is the ultimate source of truth, and the Ten Commandments are not the Ten Suggestions. It is important to have a solid rock for your belief system.

Joshua 1:7-8 has been a favorite verse of Scripture for millions of Jews and Christians for thousands of years and best summed up the importance of having a moral compass and unbreakable beliefs.

“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning to the right or left. Then you will be successful in all that you do. Study this book of instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all that you do.” (NLT)

Faith is the most-important part of this. It means that you are learning to trust that God has a plan for your life and will look after you. You have a growing belief that a power bigger than you will guide you through the storms of life. You are learning to see the Lord as an active participant in your life.

Be looking for Part 2 on Wednesday.