“Still I Rise: A Strategic Look at Resilience”

Written by  //  February 20, 2016  //  HEALTH & BEAUTY  // 

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By Dr. LaTrelle Jackson

Have you ever wondered how some people overcome insurmountable challenges, while others seem to struggle with the smallest obstacles that fall into their path? As we honor the memory of so many icons in history (i.e., Dr. Maya Angelou, President Nelson Mandela) and reflect on the life path of current trendsetters (i.e., Ms. Oprah Winfrey, Justice Sotomayor), we see clear evidence that our beginnings do not have to dictate our final outcome. Time after time, we see people rise above their circumstances to greatness. Where does this resolve come from? Researchers used to refer to this phenomenon as ‘hardiness’ – the ability to bounce back or manage personal challenges. For decades, psychologists explored whether people could build their level of hardiness or had to operate only with the measure they inherited at birth. As the debate evolved, the term hardiness became known as ‘resilience’. Whatever side you take, it’s important to assess how resilient you see yourself to be and strive to improve your interaction style with life. The goal is to grow from life experiences and not have them break you. Doing so can reduce stress, enhance personal relations, and lead to greater life satisfaction. Let’s take a look at a few strategies to support living a ‘resilient life’.

1. Shift Your Thinking of Problems – Perception is everything. Think of problems as opportunities for growth. Many setbacks have ‘disguised value’ – leading to personal development, career changes, or spiritual growth. Utilize your mental, spiritual, interpersonal, and physical resources to target solutions. This process will shift your experience from a victim mentality (why me?) to a victor mentality (how can I benefit from this experience?).

2. Surround Yourself with Positive People – Negativity fosters negativity. Defeatist, paranoid, anxious, and limiting conversations sap your energy and impact your outlook. It’s difficult to be optimistic, envisioning how you can rise when you have to filter doom and gloom commentary, fear-based ‘what if’ scenarios, or encouragement to be-content-with-where-you- are suggestions. Have the courage to set the tone for how you’d like support. State how you’d like assistance when going through a rough time. Doing so will give guidance to those around you and prevent their baggage from influencing your situation. Positive words can change many things – even history. Remember the slogan that President Obama used for his campaign…Yes We Can!

3. Keep Track of Milestones and Personal Accomplishments – Recalling how well you did in previous challenging times will help reassure you during a current crisis. The skills, strategies, and life lessons learned in the past provides us with the gift of wisdom to manage our present and future. Use them to empower your solution process and encourage your spirit.

As you look at the lives of your friends, family members, community leaders, political figures, civil rights activists, and even biblical characters, there are clear indicators of resilient living. It’s a given that adversity is a part of life. How you engage with that adversity is up to you. The phrase ‘Still I Rise’ implies circumstances that cause one to be down, necessitating a choice – rise or stay down. Choose to rise! Identify key ways to incorporate the resilient approach into the small and large challenges in your life. Your ‘future self’ will thank you!

13715 Regina Klotz, New Faculty Orientation 8-18-14___________________________________________________________________________

LaTrelle D. Jackson, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist and clinically-certified forensic counselor. Dr. LaTrelle Jackson recently joined the School of Professional Psychology faculty at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. In addition to teaching and engaging in a clinical practice, she will continue her passion for community empowerment and civic service.

Dr. Jackson, formerly an associate professor and director of clinical training in the School of Psychology and Counseling at Regent University, earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Master of Arts in Rehabilitation Counseling and a doctorate in Counseling Psychology from The University of Georgia. Committed to integrated wellness, community empowerment, moral leadership, and culturally-sensitive education, Dr. Jackson has engaged in a variety of academic, business, political, and civic endeavors. In 2011, she was elected to the office of Secretary for the American Psychological Association, while retaining her position as Membership Chairperson. Currently, she serves as the Psychological Health Consultant for Esteem Magazine, an Atlanta, Georgia based firm. She can be contacted at latrelle.jackson@wright.edu for questions, comments, or concerns generated from the column.

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