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Reflecting on Resiliency: In Times of Challenging Opportunities

This is a guest post by Sarah Nogala, Assistant Coordinator, Harper College Motorcycle Safety Program. Sarah holds a Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology.

Psychologists define resiliency as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress — such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and financial stressors. We are all being challenged to varying degrees with the current state of the nation and world on a variety of topics from many different perspectives (e.g. health, political, social, etc.).

To start our dive into resiliency you must ask: Is it based in nature/genetic or nurture/environmental?

Do you think that resiliency is a personality trait that only some people possess or is it a learned skill? There is good news! Resiliency can be learned. Like building a muscle, it takes time and intentionality. It is an ordinary, not extraordinary skill. For example, reflect on 9-11-2001, to the response of many Americans to the terrorist attacks and the individuals’ efforts to rebuild their lives after tragedy. Such a massive effort and outpouring of creative solutions shows the depth of dedication and the perseverance of our country and its people. When faced with arguably this century’s worst disaster, Americans resiliently fought back and turned tragedy into triumph and ingenuity.

It is time to reflect… What are some examples of situations where you have had to demonstrate resiliency in your life? Maybe you moved away from your family for school or a job or had a family member get seriously ill. Perhaps you had job cuts at work and you ended up doing several jobs for a significant period. Do you think that we need a certain level of resiliency to be successful? Yes, each situation/problem/opportunity is unique in what it requires to be resolved. To quote the adage, “the only constant is change.” You must adapt and overcome to finish that class, reach your goal, and get through unpleasant times.

How can we increase our current level of resiliency and our team’s level? Welcome “good stress” (eustress) challenges and label problems/new situations as opportunities. Identify your goal(s) and break it/them down into small, simple steps spread out over a specific period of time. Encourage strategic risk-taking to support your goal’s growth. Find purpose and seek out a mentor to get valuable feedback and advice, and then in turn be a mentor to someone else. Self-Reflect and discover your “why,” then make adjustments to your plans. Promote wellness by taking care of your body (healthy eating, exercising, and sleeping well), being mindful, avoiding unproductive/negative outlets (e.g. social media), and believe in your ability to overcome hardships. Embrace healthy thoughts by keeping things in perspective, accept change (be flexible and adaptive), and maintain a hopeful outlook no matter how you feel in the present moment. Remember, not all feelings are based in facts. No one/situation/issue can make you feel any feeling (e.g. angry, frustrated, depressed) without your consent. Do not consent. Actively choose and foster the feelings you seek, and you will see your goals manifest.

“You are the master of your destiny.  You can influence, direct and control your own environment. You can make your life what you want it to be.” – Napoleon Hill

Suggested Reading and Extra Resources:

“Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” – Carol S. Dweck 

“Resilient: How to Grow an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength, and Happiness” – Rick Hanson 

“7 Keys to Finding Your Inner Strength and Overcoming Life’s Hurdles” – Karen Reivich and Andrew Shatte  

“Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy” – Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant 

“Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst”- Robert M. Sapolsky 

“The Infinite Game” – Simon Sinek 

“The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma”- Bessel van der Kolk 

Upcoming Mindfulness and Holistic Living Courses:

Stress Less (LIO0018-003 ) 2/17/2021 – 2/17/2021 6:30 PM 8:00 PM Wed, Online, Instructor: Mary Beth L. Janssen-Fleischman

Perfect Health (LIO0001-007 ) 4/17/2021 – 4/18/2021 9:00 AM 4:00 PM  Sat & Sun, Online, Instructor: Mary Beth L. Janssen-Fleischman

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