Posts tagged H.E.R.O.E.S.

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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    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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    What Makes a Resilient Person Think Well

    When, at times, a person asks me what makes me resilient despite an upbringing and youth that was so damaging, I first think about how I was no different than anyone else. I feel the self that is me and feel ordinary in my extraordinari-ness. I believe anyone else in my situation could have responded as I did. But the inquiring person tends toward doubtfulness. Then I consider what made me rise above my circumstances.

    First, I knew instinctively that the way I was being treated at home and later at school was wrong. It was not loving and supportive. It was abusive. It disconfirmed my humanity. The way I was treated felt awful, and so I decided that such behavior was the opposite of how I would treat others. I learned a lot by doing the opposite, and it prevented a good deal of heartache on my part. For example, I stayed away from drugs and gangs, vandalism and crime, truancy, and pregnancy. A few key exemplary figures demonstrated kindness, appreciation, and compassion and these influences shaped my principles and values.

    Second, I noticed that many people around me insisted that their way of life was correct and anything different was wrong. History is littered with examples of this type of human defensiveness and the wars that breed from such narrow perspectives. As it happens, I became the “identified patient” to my mother, and she did plenty to make me think that I was crazy. She achieved her aim in part as my emotional woundedness prompted me to see myself as flawed. This perspective enabled me to get help to determine out what WAS wrong with me, and this willingness to get help early made it possible for me to address my problems.

    Third, I had a great affinity for stories of heroic figures in history. The lives of Helen Keller, Anne Frank, and Martin Luther King, Jr. were among those that spoke to my own desire to embody strength, endurance, power, and other resiliency competencies. Given the challenges, hardships, and adversities that I faced in my youth and young adulthood, I had to leverage my wherewithal to cope with pain; and I often felt that I was not resilient because my lack of ease over-shadowed the ease that ultimately characterize people who are resilient. Now I believe differently: Resiliency is the process that moves us through stages of coping–impairment, succumbing, languishing, synthesis, and thriving.

    I have visited all the stages of resiliency according to the H.E.R.O.E.S. model. The challenge is to keep our resiliency status evolving, moving ever upward toward thriving. We all have the native potential to thrive, regardless of how difficult the process. The opportunity for resiliency always exists, and we must find it. And we must know that we are each extraordinary. We are born of free will so that we may be our own HEROES.

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