Posts tagged Resiliency

Don’t You Believe It!


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A friend of mine thinks that if she reaches out to a neighbor in friendship after so many years of silence, she will come under judgment and criticism or be subject to questions about her motives. As a result of this thinking, she remains isolated in her community. I suspect the fundamental beliefs that inhibit her exceed these surface concerns.

Whatever her primal concerns are, she will not question the way in which she explains them to herself. She believes the story she tells herself. Were the situation were reversed–if a neighbor reached out to her after all these years–would she judge and criticize them or deem their motives questionable? Ultimately, the prospect of meaningful connection and rewarding relationship gets mired down by fear of connection and exposure.

We convince ourselves of many notions because we think them. However, our perceptions may be skewed by negative assessments that are questionable if not untrue. David Burns, MD wrote a book on cognitive behavioral therapy entitled Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy which delineates ten (10) cognitive (thought) distortions that dictate our beliefs and shape our mood.

  • All or Nothing Thinking: If I am not successful, then I am a failure.
  • Over-generalization: My friend ditched me. Everybody ditches me.
  • Mental Filter: I messed up in the middle of my speech; the presentation went terribly.
  • Discounting the Positives: I won that award due to sympathy and not merit.
  • Jumping to Conclusions: He didn’t talk to me for more than a minute; he is not interested in me. (Mind-Reading) – and – I am never going to get that promotion. (Fortune-Telling)
  • Magnification/Minimization: I need to lose weight. I look like a hippopotamus. – and – This work assignment is too tough. I can’t do anything right.
  • Emotional reasoning: I feel incompetent. I must be unqualified for this job.
  • “Should” Statements: I only accomplished three things today. I should have more discipline.
  • Labeling: That was such a stupid mistake. I am a complete idiot!
  • Blame: The group project earned a C-. I probably dragged the group down. – or – She told me to “go for it”! She is the reason that I wasted money on dance lessons.

Disarm thought distortions through the analysis of assumptions and irrational errors that APPEAR real.

When we make harsh judgments and criticisms about ourselves (and others), we risk forfeiting ACCURACY, dearly underestimating STRENGTH, and essentially undermining POWER. Similarly, when we give in to fear, we likely languish in or succumb to a lower resiliency status. The next time we tell ourselves a story about why and how we cannot rise above limitations, we must remember that we can’t always believe everything we think. And the next time we uncover fear at the root of limitations, we must remember that we can Face Everything And Respond!

If you are ready and willing to challenge your thinking, re-evaluate your “story,” and make rational decisions about your Life, please Contact Vanessa Landau, Resiliency Trainer, for Co-Creative Transformation, and we will invite a paradigm shift that brings clarity.

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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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    Find G.O.D. Now


    Religion is a sticky subject in polite company. Conjecture and discussions about God, commandments, heaven and salvation, hell and damnation, and endless interpretations can be divisive. Sometimes people need so desperately to feel correct on such matters that they seek to persuade others to their point of view, thus affirming their religion.

    I believe that there are as many religious paths as there are people and at best we can inquire into the common ground between and among us. In my opinion, GOD is a three-letter word for what a person elevates in righteousness (worships) in spirit and/or life, and we see this not so much in congregational worship as we do in day-to-day action.

    Some people elevate money. Some elevate food. Some elevate sex. Some elevate drugs. Some elevate work. Some elevate principles and teachings. Some elevate their own mind. Some elevate nature. Some elevate cynicism. Some elevate power over others. Some elevate service, or power with others.

    Whom or what do you worship? Is there harmony between your spirit/life and your congregational professions? We fail at times in the alignment of our spirit/life, and our word and action. Sometimes we are blatantly hypocritical. But do we see it? Do we acknowledge it and self-correct?

    Some do not believe in God and may not invest in traditional faith at all. To you I offer the perspective that simply applies to human endeavors: G.O.D.–Guidance, Opportunity, Deliverance–impacts all manner of activity. Who or what guides you? What opportunities invite you? What do circumstances deliver?

    If you wish to align your spirit/life and your word and action in order to more effectively respond to challenges, hardships, and adversities, please Contact me, Vanessa Landau, Resiliency Trainer, for Co-Creative Transformation (Resiliency Coaching), and I will guide you in the development of your own optimal experience strategies.

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    Einstein’s Bull’s Eye


    I fall into the trance, the story, what I tell myself, and I get lost. Sometimes I get lost in the contentions in and between my head and my heart when I endeavor to solve a problem that asks me to stretch my imagination. I talk to friends, and in the presence of the shared consciousness, I wake up. Albert Einstein wisely surmised, “We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.” This lesson arrives with greater frequency as I slowly learn over and over to discover a higher (or deeper) level, which interestingly can be a simpler, more fundamental way of thinking.

    Jiddu Krishnamurti, an educational philosopher of the 20th century, informs my thinking when I am amid fellow students of his teachings. This challenges me to go deeper into order to connect with my intuition, my desires, my lessons. My problem-solving practices challenge me much more in the privacy of my head and my heart than in the company of people who help enlighten my thought. The fact that I need loved ones and friends to help me find enlightenment becomes increasingly evident over time.

    The process speaks to the HEROES competency–ACCURACY. My problem-solving exercises require precision in thinking. What is the actual problem? What ignorance must I remedy? What are my resources? What is the desired result? What influence do I have in bringing that about? Who can facilitate warranted actions aimed at a desired result? Is patience a required element?

    Einstein makes an exquisite point. Thinking on a higher (or deeper) level to address our problems challenges our intelligence and potentially all nine HEROES resiliency competencies. If you wish discover better problem-solving and coping strategies, please Contact me, Vanessa Landau, Resiliency Trainer, for Co-Creative Transformation–Resiliency Coaching–and I will guide you problem-solving and decision-making.

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    You Deserve A Medal For That!


    The Olympic motto–Citius, Altius, Fortius–means Faster, Higher, Stronger. Every two years in winter and in summer so many of us get swept up in the majesty of the Olympics, at the feats of human athletic performance and the prospect of world records. In every event, the athlete whose performance best exceeds limitation wins a gold medal. Other winners earn silver and bronze medals. But at that level of performance, the difference between first, second, and third place can be a second, an inch, or a pound. And in the case of artistic events, like gymnastics and figure skating, the difference can be technique, artistry, and the defiance of gravity.

    In a culture that glorifies competition, rivalries can obscure the salience of an athlete’s personal best. Occasionally, sports commentators who flout the rivalries in competition pause long enough to consider the athletes’ first true calling–to rise to the height of their individual mastery in the context of good sportsmanship. At their personal best, every athlete who plays on the international stage assumes heroic status.

    On a resiliency journey, the motto could best be summed up as Better, Smarter, Faster (Siebert, A., Sloan, K., Warschaw, T.) Our personal best becomes pivotal to our heroic evolution. We live lives of heroic proportions–a relationship betrayal, a lost job, a medical diagnosis, a vehicular accident, a victim of criminal activity, a survivor of natural disaster, bereavement. Although we are compared to and judged by others in various scenarios, ultimately we must contend with ourselves. With principles and conscience, we must learn to live with our personal best.

    Just as we hail athletes as heroes by virtue of their mastery, so are we heroic by virtue of our finest hours, the personal bests that shape our legacy. With what olympic endeavors do you contend? Select any areas of your life–any role, any decision, any activity. For what olympic endeavors do you deserve a medal?

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    If you desire the ability to more mindfully approach your personal bests in relationships and experience, please Contact me, Vanessa Landau, Resiliency Trainer, for Co-Creative Transformation–Resiliency Coaching–and I will guide you in making a more heroic journey.

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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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    I Beat the Odds and Won the Lottery


    I grew up in a home that was riddled with domestic trauma–verbal, emotional, physical, sexual abuse. Everyday life would unfold around common family activities, and I never knew when the next implosion would come but always tried to anticipate and escape it. Hypervigilent, I faced my daily life in a climate of fear and dread. My parents were ill-equipped to cope with their own experiences and emotional material; they could scarcely manage to rear their four children.

    At some point in my teens, I entertained the notion that, if “God” is Love, then Love is “God”. A stream of scenarios occurred to me as I pondered and tested this theory. And I arrived at the supposition that, if I can live from a place of Love, I can align my motivations, outlook, and behavior in accordance with the Universe, and the principles of justice and compassion.

    Presently, my view of the “Most High Source” has evolved; it is more complex and less anthropomorphized. But my earlier realization that Love is “God” allowed me to establish an ideal: If I love and love well, then I will fulfill my humanity. The legacy that my parents imparted threatened to skew my perspective and compromise my heart. Yet I learned by doing the opposite of the examples that my parents set. This fact saddens me sometimes, but it proved an excellent strategy for avoiding the perpetuation of a damaging legacy.

    I naturally connected with Love because I yearned for it. And I knew, as the Beatles professed in their song, The End, that “the Love we take is equal to the Love we make”. My early experience further taught me that Love, if it is true, must be free and not bargained; otherwise, it is not Love. Later, I heeded the advice that, “when at a crossroads, choose the path toward Love”.

    Paying attention to examples of Love in the wide world, I nurtured and preserved myself by focusing on examples that affirmed my learning. Kahlil Gibran’s chapter on Love in The Prophet provided an exquisite jumping off point for meditations on Love early in my life. I have indeed loved. In addition, others have loved me, and my heart has received their gifts. I beat the odds of an upbringing that could have led me to imitate “God”-forsaken examples of human behavior by, instead, attending to the yearnings of my heart and by offering Love as an exercise of good will. I won the lottery in my meditations on Love.

    If you desire a way to readily foster Love within yourself and for others, 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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    The Car – or – The Cash


    I get by without a car. Doing so is sometimes problematic but not usually. It simply requires appropriate clothing for the weather, strength to carry everything, and planning for public transportation. So, imagine my gratitude and delight whenever my 84-year-old friend goes out of town for a few days or a week or more, and she loans me her car!

    This time, however, she loaned it to her gardener, who has become a help to her in the off-season. My friend is a very kind woman, full of generosity and compassion. She “adopts” people as she did me. In this instance, she has chosen to extend her kindness on his behalf.

    Borrowing my friend’s car is not my right; it is a privilege. And my having become accustomed to that privilege, I now feel disappointed, irritated, and jealous. I have been her friend for eight years and he, one year or less. Then again…to be honest…at one point several years ago, I limited our contact because our temperaments are quite different, and I found her unbearable.

    Our renewed friendship now reflects a pleasantness. In addition to “coffee with the ladies” on Tuesday mornings, my friend and I visit once a month or so. She normally pays the entire bill. She even passes me some extra cash on occasion.

    Who am I to get irritated? If I had to choose between the two gestures——car or cash——I would opt for the cash without hesitation. Nevertheless, my hurt feelings warrant expression. I choose to express my feelings to trusted others and keep the situation in perspective.

    Perhaps a time will present itself when I will choose to share my feelings about the situation with my elderly friend. Perhaps hurt feelings will shift or fade. For now, I shall exercise GRACE and MAINTAIN gratitude.

    If you desire a better way to cope with disappointment, anger, frustration, and other unpleasant emotions, 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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