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Why Can’t I Be Resilient?

In “Defining Success,” we looked at ways to become more resilient. Today, we will look at the reasons some face difficulty in overcoming difficulties. Just like Michael Jordan heard his Dad tell him to “Go in the house Wirth the women,” each time he did not win in a basketball game, we all have “Old Tapes,” we hear play back from our earlier years each time we face challenges.

If we hear positive, uplifting messages from our family, like “You can do it,” we are spurred on to take on more challenges because we gain self confidence because we meet our goals. On the other hand, if we have been told “You can’t do anything right” or “You will just fail if you try,” we will be less confident when we try new activities or meet difficulties when attempting a task. These messages become very powerful, and if negative, can hold us back from realizing our true potential.

There was a study done by the Veteran’s Administration during the Persian Gulf war that looked at the reasons why some soldiers experienced few to no trauma symptoms during war while others were diagnosed with PTSD. The study found that many of the soldiers with PTSD symptoms experienced trauma in childhood, while those that did not show trauma symptoms had little to no trauma in childhood. The trauma in childhood “primed” the soldiers for further trauma.

Another reason for having resilience for adversity is having to overcome challenges we have no control over. I have known people of great faith in God, who can just say, “God’s got this!” when faced with not having money to buy groceries or pay their rent. If it wasn’t for their faith being strengthened in prior difficulties, they wouldn’t have faith to get them through current trials they face.

Overcoming adversity is hard, but isn’t that the point? When we exercise, we understand we are going to be sore if we had a good workout. If we are working hard to get a degree while working a full-time job, we understand it will be difficult. The reward is at the end, we just have to make sure we have smaller successes built in along the way.

To use another basketball analogy, I love Russell Westbrook’s saying, “Why not?” I don’t like the question, “Why?” because the question is often framed as an accusation. When we hear a question begin with, “Why...,” we are put on the defensive, Just asking, “Why not?” every time we ask ourselves, “Why can’t I do _____?” puts us in a different frame of mind so we are looking at the situation differently. We have gone from a problem-focused mindset to a solution-focused mindset. So, no matter what level of resiliency we are accustomed to, we can always answer a “Why?” question with a question - “Why Not?”


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