Posts tagged courage

Your Claim To Fame

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The greatest gift that we can ever give to people and the world is the example of our lifeour claim to fame. It is the only gift that, as individuals, we alone can give. The gift speaks to matters of character. Everything that we ever embody–qualities, values, principles, beliefs, opinions, ethics, morals–colors our responsibilities (our ability to respond) and contributions, and our reputation stems from the pattern that we thereby establish.


When people discover that I have a trauma background–challenges, hardships, adversities, illness, injustice–and they also discover that I have become a strong, spiritual, insightful, compassionate, courageous, resourceful, and tenacious individual rather than a bitter and brutalizing one, people ask me how I managed to embrace a Loving legacy.


First, I must confess that, in my darkest times, I have been bitter and brutalizing. There are sins of speech and deed for which I must account, and I live with the burden of remembrance for inexcusable behavior. My conscience, despite apologies, rages at me. Because of this, self-reflection, re-evaluation of my actions, and genuine amends shape my personal development.


Despite occasions of contemptible behavior, my reputation and the overarching example of my life demonstrate my conviction to uplift myself and others. From an early age, I nurtured a curiosity about people who, despite disadvantage, forged an honorable and admirable legacy—Helen Keller, Anne Frank, Martin Luther King, Jr., and everyday people spotlighted in the media. The gifts of others’ examples prompted my resiliency. I further owe my resiliency to my ability to self-reflect, my willingness to seek recovery and accept help, my capacity and desire to give and receive love, and my cultivated gratitude.


Clearly, my life has not proceeded as planned. The story of my life defies all early indicators that I would go on to enjoy a priceless marital partnership, to contribute to society through a stellar career, and to craft a retirement of continuing contributions. Yet there remains a single legacy that I aspire to leave in my wake–this above all else–that I chose Love and loved well.


What is the gift of the example of your lifeyour claim to fame? What is the first next right thing that needs to happen within you in order for you to realize this? What reputation stems from your responsibilities and contributions? What is the legacy you aspire to leave in your wake? We await your inimitable reply!

If you would like to build your character, shape your reputation, and forge a legacy, please Contact me, Vanessa Landau, Resiliency Trainer, for Co-Creative Transformation, and we will claim your fame together.

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Grasping At Water


Often circumstances in life are beyond our control, and the unknown or unfavorable outcomes can instill discomfort. One human response is to control whatever we can control as compensation for that discomfort. In 1988 I experienced a great lack of control in various areas of my life–e.g., family, school, friends, self-image. My attempt to grasp control expressed itself as an eating disorder. The one thing I could absolutely control was food. I believed I was in control but, in fact, when I tried to stop restricting food and vomiting what I did eat, I discovered that I was powerless. The addiction had taken over control.

Another way in which we attempt to grasp control over circumstances is to anticipate all possible outcomes and thoroughly prepare, particularly for the outcomes we FEAR. We think that if we are ready for the imagined misfortune or catastrophe, somehow we will be able to control it. The truth is that, while some preparatory measures suggest intelligence and reduce the element of surprise, focusing on the outcomes we fear render us no more effective in controlling them than if we focus on the outcomes we desire.

Some people become so radicalized by a FEAR of lack of control that they impose control on others. Have you ever known anyone who has a monopoly on how to fold clothes? fill the dishwasher? re-close the cereal box? Have you ever known anyone who arbitrarily tells you what to do because they have appointed themselves to be in control. My housemate forbade me to use my laptop at the dining table–even when nobody was eating there–because I had a computer table upstairs.

Control presents a tricky dynamic. Societal influences suggest that we are in control of our own destinies; that we create our own lives; and that, when we feel disappointed, despondent, or devastated, we must accept the responsibility for that. Such notions deliver half-truths. We shape our destinies given what circumstances arise. We make choices about action given the access to resources at our disposal. We remain responsible for our actions and attitudes, and how we learn our lessons.

A fundamental tool that helps me to manage control lies in The Serenity Prayer:

  • Grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
  • courage to change the things I can,
  • and wisdom to know the difference.

  • When I find myself in circumstances that I cannot control, I habitually invoke The Serenity Prayer. With practice, I have learned to manage my FEAR of unknown or unfavorable outcomes in constructive ways, and have ceased obsessive controlling behaviors and controlling the behavior of others.

    Healthy coping strategies involve surrendering control where we have none and ceasing attempts to control others. If you would like to foster skills that support these strategies, please contact me, Vanessa Landau, Resiliency Trainer, for Co-Creative Transformation, and I will guide you in the development of coping tactics.

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    This Wasn’t Supposed To Happen!!


    Anastasia lost her job. Bonnie received a cancer diagnosis. Conrad became a victim of an apartment robbery. When we encounter turns of fate that are unfavorable and unexpected, we confront emotional distress. However we interpret the experience and whatever emotional material it evokes, we cannot avoid the reality of the situation.


    Faced with loss, illness, hardship, injustice, the ability to respond effectively may seem impossible. But we can gain insight into our process of making sense out of difficulties when we observe the process of GRIEF. A theory that I find useful in coping with the death of safety and security proposes five stages set forth by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross in her treatise entitled On Death And Dying:

    • Denial
    • Anger
    • Bargaining
    • Depression
    • Acceptance

    These stages are not discretely linear. Stages may overlap, and prior stages may be revisited in the course of healing.


    Given the benefit of this knowledge, we can work with GRIEF, allowing ourselves to feel the emotions that come up and giving ourselves permission to be patient with our particular process. We can proactively cope with our reaction by journaling, by talking with a trusted friend or counselor, by joining a support group, by relying on or building a support network, and even by engaging in recreation, e.g., exercising, and by serving others.


    Many times we do not have control over losses, illnesses, hardships, or injustices, but we do have control over our attitudes and behaviors in response to them. Why not take control where we have it!? Approach the process of GRIEF with permission and intention. We will then shape our emotional landscape, exercising the STRENGTH and POWER to move forward, and regaining the FLEXIBILITY to be at ease again.


    If you desire a way to better address crises and grief, please Contact me, Vanessa Landau, Resiliency Trainer, for Co-Creative Transformation–Resiliency Coaching–and I will guide you in making attitudinal and behavioral changes for the better.

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    Rise To Your Own Occasion

    “It’s not how many times you get knocked down that count; it’s how many times you get back up.”
    — Colonel George A. Custer



    When we encounter distress, our vulnerability and hurt may interfere with our ability to respond effectively. The initial coping response may be to fall apart. Other possible responses stem from the fight or flight impulse, or the freeze impulse. Sooner or later, the opportunity to face the distress and its consequences arises. And this engages the ability to rise to our own occasion.


    For example, halfway through my graduate education, I took ill–my health fell apart–and obtained a one-year medical leave of absence. Many people felt concerned, not only for my health but also for the possibility that I might not return to finish my master’s program. As sick as I was, I did not know how I would be able to resume–or face–the responsibilities that I had undertaken while I was well. During that year of medical leave, I tended to my “incompletes.” When I did return to the program, I only took two courses. Eventually, my health restored, I did complete my degree. People who had expressed concern that I might not finish graduate school commented to me about my strength, endurance, and power, and I understood precisely what that meant. Ultimately, I was able to rise to my own occasion,


    Life coaches, psychotherapists, or academicians who address resiliency encourage us to rise above the circumstances that shape our experience, but the methods they use vary, resulting in a random mixture of approaches. HEROES offers a standard, comprehensive method that can be tailored to fit each individual situation. Comprised of nine coping strategies among other elements, the Resiliency Fitness Paradigm™ provides the backbone for this method.


    To rise to our own occasion amid distress, we first need STRENGTH. Considering the circumstances with which we must cope, what responses would reflect courage, fortitude of heart? Continued coping requires ENDURANCE. How do we monitor the situation and take care of ourselves in order to persevere and preserve our character. Finally, the POWER to define the situation begins with what actions we choose. Even situations in which we are powerless allow us to choose our attitudes and self-governance amid distress.


    The Resiliency Fitness Paradigm™ expands further on the nine coping strategies that support our endeavor to rise to our own occasion. Doing so may not be easy, depending on the situation, but the Paradigm™ offers a simple approach to discovering the next right thing to do.


    If you desire a way to better cope with challenges, hardships, and adversities, please Contact me, Vanessa Landau, Resiliency Trainer, for Co-Creative Transformation–Resiliency Coaching–and I will guide you in adjusting yourself to the situation.

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    Freedom from Death

    Emotional hurts have a way of making a lasting impression while all the big and little daily happiness-es can run like water through a fist.

    I have been faced with hurts that have been difficult to clean up. One in particular was the loss of one of the great loves of my life. Losing my bearings and stalling on my life course, I became vigilant about preventing such vulnerability from happening again. So, I asked myself, “Self, if you found a loving partner and he leaves, would you regret allowing this person close enough to hurt you?” And Self hesitated.

    Would anybody ever be worth that kind of power over me? The more interested I would be, the less willing I would be to take the risk. I would have my heart and mind trained to receive familiar signs of impending danger–red flags. However, with my heart and mind trained to notice every red flag, every possible joy would figure less prominently through that lens. That orientation would only lead me entertain the affections of someone whose hurtfulness would not mean much. This is a position of resiliency impairment, defeating the whole purpose of being in a relationship with someone whom I could love deeply and and who could love me deeply in return.

    My only recourse from defeating my wish for another great love involved grieving the original loss and regaining my strength, or courage… and deliberately so. To grieve deliberately requires that I allow the thoughts and feelings where I resist letting go (grasp) to be expressed–thoughts, feelings, and physical discharge (crying, yelling, hitting pillows, etc.). To facilitate this, I need to allow someone else to witness my expression without judgment or personal commentary.

    One way that I find helpful to guide the grief process involved Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ model from her book, On Death And Dying–denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. By focusing my attention on each stage, I have my say; whereas I had not had my say in the death of the great love. One way to gain perspective on the situation was to view it as a story: I called it “the loss of one of the great loves of my life.” I explained it as “he left me.” I described it as “heartbreaking,” saying “I absorbed the blow.” How else could I tell the story? The result of the call to grieve deliberately enabled me to release my resistance to the death of a dream.

    Every grief is different between one person and the next and, for the same person, between one situation and the next. The time required to diminish the pain of grief likewise varies. If you are enduring a grief for a longer period than you would like, I can help. Contact me, Vanessa Landau, Resiliency Trainer, for Co-Creative Transformation–Resiliency Coaching–and I will accompany you along the way.

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    We Need To Talk….

    A common experience in human relationships is the offense of someone who, then, feels angry. Coupled with frustration, anger can result in an outburst! And the target of that outburst–you–can respond defensively with equal fury and the dynamic escalates, or with stubborn silence which fuels resentment.

    Different people handle anger in different ways. Nevertheless, you can learn a more calming yet assertive response. You simply allow the person to run out of steam and then affirm what is going on in that moment:

    “I can see that you are very angry with me.”
    “I understand that you were hurt by what I said/did.”
    “I would like to resolve this with your help.”

    Usually by this time the affirming statements calm the angry person. If the need to communicate can be met immediately, find a private space perhaps with two chairs facing one another. In the event that you cannot address the issue immediately, state your desire to resolve the matter, set a day and time to do so, and keep that commitment.

    You cannot control someone else’s outburst, but you can control your response. Your response, with practice, can become a habit of strength and courage, and eventually will be instinctive. Are you noticing a chronic pattern of your anger or of anger in one or more of your relationships?

    For more strategies on how to handle the ensuing conversation, hire a Resiliency Coach for three months and learn how to handle confusion, conflict, and criticism. Contact me, Vanessa Landau, Resiliency Trainer, for Co-Creative Transformation (Resiliency Coaching) and I will accompany you along the way.

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