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You are an Overcomer- Never forget

I just want to remind you of something that may have slipped your mind this morning, or this week, or this month since the seasons of life are changing and the colder months can cast a darker, colder shadow at times.

Each morning, you might want to start fresh, and leave the past behind you, right? But please, friend, don’t forget everything you’ve overcome.

Don’t forget the challenges which seemed impossible…when you said “there is no way I can get through this” but you did, and you are. Don’t ever forget.

Don’t forget when you ran out of every last molecule of energy you had left to give, and you had no idea how you would keep going another moment longer…. but instead of giving up, you found something else inside of you that carried you forward. Don’t forget that driving force within you.

Don’t forget when you had experienced all of the torture you thought you could shoulder. Don’t forget when heartbreak, physical pain, and sleepless nights pushed you past your breaking point. You said, “I can’t endure this nightmare for one more moment.”

Remember when you were ready to forget it all?

How are you still here after everything you’ve been through?

Don’t forget how you made it!

Don’t forget that force inside of you that begins when you’ve reached the end of yourself.

Don’t forget.

Ever.

As seasons change, as life continues to surprise you, carry yourself as the OVERCOMER you are.

******

 

Links to the featured artist: The Last Sparrow (artistic home furnishings on Etsy), Follow Voilet D’Art on Flickr, Twitter 

Chronic Resilience and Learned Optimism

Learning Resilience and Optimism. Coping with chronic illness.

My sister manages a student property center near one of the best universities in the country. It is known that more students from that school will withdraw due to psychological breakdowns and will have more suicide attempts than any other area college. She has already had several incidents this year at her property alone that ended with students being checked into the hospital for said reasons. They are all the most elite academics, but now, they are in competition with one another. Once the valedictorian of his high school is currently struggling to pass his college courses. So why are even the best and brightest failing to cope with the pressures of life?

I’ve been reading the book Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman. There was an entire revolution in psychological treatment called “Positive Psychology” which began after he wrote this breakthrough book in 1990. Before that, psychological practices were geared toward treating mental illness. Seligman asks the question, why aren’t people fulfilled and thriving when we know more about human behavior than ever before? Now, psychologists and counselors help people to become more than just not-sick, but actually thrive.

In his book, Learned Optimism, he theorizes why there is more depression, anxiety, suicide, and drug addiction than ever before when we live in a happiness-driven society. He believes it is much, much more than public awareness of mental health driving diagnoses. Children were once taught how to overcome obstacles and persevere, but teaching practices have shifted to the current focus of boosting self-confidence regardless of efforts. He proposes that individuals of prior generations were raised to believe they were surrounded by various types of support, and that sense of community has been lost today. In the past, people realized that their support system shared responsibility for every success, failure, and overall person they became. Because there was an awareness that outside forces contributed to their lives, when their hard work paid off, they were sharing their triumphs; when they failed, they wouldn’t fall too far or stay down too long as they had a safety net.

In the past, Americans valued country, faith in government and patriotism. People were raised connected to a personal faith in God, organized religion provided a community, connection with family was the cornerstone of society, and people were inclined to make close connections inside of their local communities. Just the sheer idea that others believe in you can be the difference between a devastating pitfall that derails your life and a curve ball which you can bounce back from. Today, we don’t grow up ingrained with the same surrounding support system, lasting connections, or faith in God and country.

Society teaches that your successes are your own to take pride in and celebrate. You are paving your own way in this world. There is a great focus on self-determination, but the tools for coping with inevitable life failures are incredibly lacking. We are taught that personal responsibility and success is everything, but when we fail (as we all do), the personal fallout can be devastating.

I was already planning to write this piece on Learned Optimism when I happened to read an article on Resilience and was surprised to find that the number one quality suggested in becoming more resilient is to create the same types of support that past generations grew up with (as in Learned Optimism). Surrounding yourself with close connections, friends, family members, becoming more connected to faith, plugging into community, and making permanent, lasting relationships with “people who affirm you, recognize your strengths, natural, innate abilities, and provide the support and acceptance you need” will increase your resilience [Mary J. Yerkes].

Other ways to become more resilient: accept good enough, focus on what you can control, find meaning in life, accept advice from your loved ones, take care of yourself, ask for/accept help, don’t be surprised when life changes suddenly, expect things to eventually get better, set goals you can achieve, laugh. Being resilient isn’t about silencing yourself through turmoil or ignoring your emotions, but resiliency is a method of utilizing multiple positive coping strategies along with a mindset that is postured to “roll with the punches.”

The author of Learned Optimism says, “If we habitually believe, as does the pessimist, that failure is our fault, it will undermine everything we do.” Pessimists feel personally responsible in all success and failure, and helpless to make changes. This thinking leads to tendencies for depression, anxiety, and chronic pessimists are more likely to have health troubles later in life. Does this mean that society’s focus on self-reliance and self-esteem is creating generations of pessimists?  The good news is, both resilience and optimism can be learned!

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Learned Optimism by Martin E.P. Seligman, Ph.D.

Chronic Resilience: An Interview with Danea Horn by Toni Bernhard

10 Tips for Building Resilience in the Face of Chronic Illness by Mary J. Yerkes

Do Higher Levels of Resilience Buffer the Deleterious Impact of Chronic Illness on Disability in Later Life?

Leg Warmers + Dyslexia = All Gain

“No Pain, No Gain” -Jane Fonda. My sister and I were Jane’s leg warmer partners in crime and side cramps. My sister’s journey with Dyslexia told a different story about pain and gaining.

As my mother would begin Jane Fonda’s warm up on the VHS, my sister and I would be changing into our bathing suits over tights, scrunching up Dad’s long socks (they came up taller and on us looked like those leg warmers worn on the video- we thought). We would get into mom’s blue eye shadow until it was more like forehead shadow. Our hair in HIGH side pony tails mimicking our favorite backup Fonda “fly girls,” we were finally ready to show these ladies how it’s done!

This was so common in our home that we wore out the Jane Fonda video tape. My mother always laughs at this memory of us, yet my sister and I take our Jane Fonda VERY seriously- so no laughing people! We were little girls then, but Fonda and her hotshot posse’ of long-legged sweat band sporting 80’s workout divas made tiny me and my little sissy feel extra fierce.

"Leg Warmers + Dyslexia = All Gain" A funny fabulous journey through overcoming learning disability. #Sparkle #dyslexia #bully #makeitwork #janefonda #fierce

Jane Fonda

Years later in school, my sweet little sister would not be feeling so fierce any more when she was the target of bullies. They called her: illiterate, moron, idiot, retarded, and more names I know she has buried deep and hopes to forget. She has a learning disability called Dyslexia. She is severely Dyslexic and she didn’t really catch onto reading until around the sixth grade. She thought reading would be her ticket to being “normal” and making friends. The better she could learn to read, the fewer panic attacks she would have when teachers would make her read aloud in front of class “for her own good.” And fewer tears she would cry because of nasty name-calling jerk wads.

She went through a whole lot of emotional pain on the playground, pain when she got any tests back, and pain in her bedroom alone after school- yes, she had pain… But my sister would tell you her GAIN had nothing to do with her pain. Her gain came from her time in drama class. She gained motivation to stay in school through High School performing arts programs. She gained trust back with her peers when she sang in the chorus. She gained confidence in herself when she was the lead in the school play. She gained independence when she put herself through college by winning talent competitions in scholarship pageants. She has represented organizations like Reading for the Blind and Dyslexic along with advocating for school arts programs as both made such an impact for her. And yes, in case you are wondering, the shy little girl who couldn’t read did graduate college. Boom shaka lacka. Hip roll Fonda!

She continues making gains every time she reads a word and each day she goes to work. She makes gains by proving her former teachers wrong, those bullies, those mean snotty classmates, tutors, and everyone who must have been so dumbstruck by her sparkle that they all acted like fools around her, I suppose.

It wasn’t in all the hardship that my lil’ sis found her fabulosity, it was in the moments like dancing in front of the television to Jane Fonda’s Workout video. Fonda fly girls for life xx.

****

This entry was in response to a Daily Prompt from WordPress’ Blogging site:

Do you agree with Jane Fonda’s favorite exercise motto, “no pain, no gain?”

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/pains-and-gains/

www.whotalking.com for photo

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