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Just Keep Swimming- Developing Your Resiliency Skill

When things in life get tough, what do you do?  Just keep swimming!  Through life’s challenges I often hear the voice of Dory from Disney’s Finding Nemo  singing, “Just keep swimming, swimming…What do we do we swim, swim, swim,…”  Dory is the voice of resiliency in my life!

Resiliency is one’s ability to roll with the punches.  When stress, adversity, or trauma strike, one with resiliency is able to experience anger, grief, and pain, but they are still able to keep functioning both physically, mentally, and emotionally.  Resiliency does not mean ignoring your emotions but rather acknowledging them and gaining the ability to control your emotions, not allowing them to control you. The great thing is that even if we find that our ability to bounce back and keep swimming has been lacking in the past, resiliency is a skill that we can practice and strengthen.  So how do you strengthen resiliency?  Our resiliency curriculum, Back on Track*, suggests 6 ways to help you develop your resiliency skill.

·         Get Connected – Building strong, positive relationships with loved ones and friends can provide you with support and acceptance through the good times and the bad.

·         Make Every Day Meaningful – Do something that gives you a sense of accomplishment and purpose every day.  Set goals to help you look toward the future with meaning.

·         Learn From Experience – Think back on how you’ve coped with hardships in the past.  Consider skills and strategies that helped you through rough times before.

·         Remain Hopeful – You can’t change what’s happened in the past, but you can always look toward the future.  Accepting and even anticipating change makes it easier to adapt and view new challenges with less anxiety.

·         Take Care of Yourself – Tend to your own needs and feelings, both physically and emotionally.

·         Be Proactive – Don’t ignore your problems or try to wish them away.  Instead, figure out what needs to be done, make a plan and take action.

Practicing resiliency each day can strengthen your ability to keep swimming through life’s small struggles and large stressors.  In challenging times, my inner Dory gets fainter, but I work to strengthen that voice, to strengthen my resiliency.    Through getting connected, making each day meaningful, learning from your experiences, remaining hopeful, taking care of yourself, and being proactive you can keep swimming and moving forward in life.

-Bethany McNeely, staff therapist


*Back on Track, written by Mary Ortwein, Sharon Bryant, and Benita Peoples, is a curriculum developed through our work with people in a wide range of life situations to help them bounce back by being real, relaxed, responsible, and resilient.

The Power of Genuineness

With reality TV shows on almost every channel during primetime, we can all begin to wonder- is any of this actually real?  While a lot of what comes on these shows may be staged or edited to entice the viewing audience, considering what is reality is an important question.  What makes someone real?  How do you know when someone is being real in a relationship?

These questions point to the power of genuineness.  At times, we all may lie, fake, or withhold information to “save face,” control how others view us, and to ensure people respond to us in a predictable way.  However, by acting in this way, we are missing an opportunity to be real in our relationships so that they can grow and go to a deeper place emotionally.  We also are missing the opportunity to be honest with ourselves and to own the feelings that we are having about a particular situation.

In thinking through genuineness, these are a few points that can help us become more real with how we express ourselves to others.  Many of these ideas are outlined in Susan Campbell’s book Getting Real, which is referenced in IDEALS’ group curriculum Back on Track, written by Mary Ortwein, Sharon Bryant, and Benita Peoples.

Notice your own experience and then express it.  Self-awareness is a key point in being genuine, which includes noting your thoughts, feelings, concerns, and desires at any given moment.  This awareness will allow us to share our experience and therefore be more genuine in our relationships when doing so.

Invite a response while keeping distinct views.  Once becoming self-aware and then expressing yourself, ask “What do you think about what I just said?”  This type of statement will allow you to know if you are communicating your thoughts clearly.  However, it is good to keep in mind that though your experience may be very different from another’s, it is important to accept that person’s view as there own, not yours.  Often, when we hear a family member expressing their frustration or anger at a given situation, we are inclined to feel the same emotions.  However, noting that your experience is different and not feeling the pressure that one of you needs to change increases your self-awareness and genuineness.

Genuineness can be a powerful tool in developing more meaningful relationships.  It not only increases our self-awareness but also will grow the value of honesty in our personal and professional lives.  So, while reality TV may be entertaining in all of its drama, the person sitting beside you on the couch may be the one with whom a real, meaningful adventure can grow.

-Kristi Dugger, staff therapist