Tag Archives: empowerment

Finding a way: Cultivating resilience when facing life’s storms

 

Building resiliencethat ability to ‘bounce back’  after adversity, trauma, tragedy, change, or failure —has become a critical component to living a long, healthy, and productive life. In the past few weeks, the ravages from Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, and most recently, Hurricane Maria, in the US and the Caribbean have been televised and we, the un-impacted, sit back in awe, disbelief and gratitude. We are grateful that (for now), we are safe and our possessions intact, even as our hearts overflow with compassion for the millions who have to rebuild their lives, their cities, their economies, or their countries. I find myself thinking that it could easily have been me and wondering if I have what it takes to start all over, if I had to. How does one cultivate that type of resilience?

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Numerous studies  have shown that children need to be taught how to be resilient at a very young age so that they can develop into thriving, well-adapted individuals. None of us chooses to go through trial and hardship. But life happens, and we either get knocked down and stay there or get back up. When the going gets tough the tough get going, right? According to Pastor Rick Warren in his recent study series, Daring Faith, “Nobody goes through life with an unbroken chain of successes. Everybody has failures and mistakes. We all embarrass ourselves. We all have pain. We all have problems. We all have pressures. The people who make it in life have resilience.” I immediately think of Diana Nyad.

I have only recently heard about Diana. She is the long distance swimmer who set the record for swimming from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage back in 2013 when she was 64. She swam nearly 53 continuous hours in the ocean, surviving  the treacherous waters of the Florida Straits, a notorious stretch of water teeming with sharks, jellyfish, storms and an unpredictable Gulf Stream. The magnitude of her achievement is undeniable. But what really got my attention when I heard this story, was that this was her FIFTH attempt at setting this record. She first tried when she was 28 years old back in 1979! On her 4th attempt, she almost died from Jellyfish venom. At 64 years old she finally accomplished her life-long dream, when many of us are thinking about retirement. What made Ms Nyad so tenacious, so persevering, so resilient to failure, to adversity, to misfortune?

diana nyad ted talk

I was so intrigued, I listened to a couple of her Ted Talks (she is now an author and motivational speaker) and they are truly inspiring. Four things stood out to me related to cultivating resilience. 1) She learned from her mistakes. After each failed attempt, she improvised, learning what to adjust, which expert to consult and what new protective protocol to implement. 2) She kept herself motivated and positive. To keep herself focused and upbeat during the dark lonely hours of her swim, she sang John Lennon’s “Imagine” over and over and over again. She jokingly admits to “having a playlist of songs” at the ready to sing in her head. 3) She had a single-minded goal to set this record and she believed her dream was achievable. Her motto as she trained for the feat was “find a way”. She saw her dream coming to fruition in her mind’s eye. As she swam, she thought only of reaching the Florida horizon, that was her fulcrum, her grounding point. She did not agonize over how many hours she had left or what could go wrong. She sung and she swam. 4) She did not go it alone. She frankly shares about her ‘ride or die’ friend Bonnie who was right there in the boat alongside her, encouraging and supporting her, along with a team of experts who were there for her protection and safety. She acknowledges that even though she was the one swimming, it would have been impossible without her team.

Diana Nyad’s feat makes it crystal clear to me that resilience is about not giving up, no matter what. We will all fail at something. Life will throw us curveballs. Tragedy or illness may come upon us or our loved ones. We may lose our cherished job. We may be forced to contend with a natural disaster. We may have to endure with terror a Category 5 hurricane huddled up in an attic or shelter praying for our lives, and survive, yes, but without the material possessions we once held dear: damaged car, destroyed house, no building standing for miles, our town or island flooded, washed up, practically swept away! So we are forced to begin again, to face the clearing, the rebuilding, the starting over, one step, one piece of debris, one day at a time. So daunting isn’t it?

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How do you stay resilient, after a “storm”?  You find a way. You consider:

  • What can I learn from this disaster? What is the life lesson here for me to grow from?
  • How can I keep myself and those around me positive and motivated to keep going, even when I am exhausted, feeling hopeless and I cannot see my way through the aftermath of this storm? How can I remind myself that “this too shall pass”, that I have endured the worst of it and I am alive?
  • How do I stay focused on my dreams and goals even in the midst of this adversity? What is my fulcrum? My true North? What do I believe to be true about myself, about God, about humanity?
  • How do I let the fact that I am not alone, strengthen me? How do I draw support from the millions of people going through this very same catastrophe? How do I stay encouraged as I witness the outpouring of compassion and support from my fellow survivors and the International community, whether it be via funds, food, Facebook feed words of encouragement and inspiration, prayers, supplies, disaster relief efforts or fundraising campaigns?

These questions apply for a hurricane and for any storm we face.

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I have faced more than my fair share of storms in the past few years, from seeing my career aspirations come crashing down to chronic illness. I have often wondered just how I was supposed to find a way in the midst of seemingly incredible odds against me. And yet, I’m here, still in the game, with new dreams and a reinforced inner strength. I had to find a way. And that way was excavated out of the rubble of my trials through trust—trust in myself, in God and in humanity. I had to trust and let go of the reins so God could take over. I had to submit, in humility to the grace of my God. And therein lay the gift of resilience.

“When we tackle obstacles, we find hidden reserves of courage and resilience we did not know we had. And it is only when we are faced with failure do we realise that these resources were always there within us. We only need to find them and move on with our lives.” A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

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Photo by Tommy Lisbin on Unsplash

I am reminded of a conversation I had decades ago, when I was going through a particularly difficult season, and a mentor said to me that I was like a willow tree—that I surely bowed but never broke. She was right. That powerful image has stayed with me. There is a quote that I have had stuck on my office poster board for years, and in writing this post, I understand why it is so meaningful to me. It is because it speaks to me of the heart and soul of resilience and epitomizes for me what resilience looks like: “The sturdiest tree is not found in the shelter of the forest but high upon some rocky crag, where its daily battle with the elements shapes it into a thing of beauty.

Goosebumps.

I was sharing with my friend Maurice, my idea to write a post on LinkedIn on resilience after just having written a post on humility as a hallmark of leadership and he shared an original thought that coupled the two themes that was just so brilliant to me. According to Maurice,  “Resilience is the other side of coin to humility. Humility keeps you grounded. Resilience helps you fly”. With resilience my friends, you can fly, you can swim over 100 miles, you can soar to greater heights than you can ever imagine!

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Photo by Rod Long on Unsplash

I  just have to end this post with one of my absolute favorite Maya Angelou poems, Still I Rise. I consider this to be the resilience anthem! This poem deserves its own post, but for now, I’ll just quote the first verse:

“You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.” Maya Angelou

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My heartfelt thoughts are with all those impacted by Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria, especially the victims on the islands in the Caribbean whose infrastructures have been completely devastated.  Please consider donating to these organizations to help hurricane victims:


Natalie Jobity is an inspirational author, branding coach, marketing consultant and freelance writer. She is the author of the Amazon Best-selling style guide :Frumpy to Fabulous: Flaunting It. Your Ultimate Guide to Effortless Style.  Visit her blog Be Simply Inspired. Email her at Elanimage07@gmail.com.

Six Tips to Combat Perfectionism

Red apple and A Plus sign, Concept of learning

If you’re an over achiever like me, you may develop a habit of equating your performance at work with your level of self-worth.  As high-achievers, we can become addicted to the adrenaline rush of exceeding expectations, receiving praise for a job well-done, getting that recommendation, collecting accolades upon accolades, getting that raise or promotion. It never ends, does it? I don’t know about you but it is exhausting. The effort of besting oneself over and over again plays itself out over time. And here’s the rub: when the outside validation stops for whatever reason—career change, job loss, retirement, illness, a dry period, reaching one’s desired zenith, or simply growing out of favor—what is left? What do you hang onto when the only people you have cheering you on are me, myself and I?

It is at this juncture that you find out whether or not you have nurtured and fostered a healthy self-esteem in yourself. Seeking external affirmation is risky business as it depends on the fickle fancies of folks who often come and go with the tide.  The only constant is our unwavering and unfailingly loving God and the “self” that we have allowed to either foster or to flounder. Seeking self-approval begins and ends within. There is no short cut, no fast track, no other way.

life is a marathon

So what are perfectionism seekers to do? Here are 6 principles that continue to work for me:

  1. Accept that failure is part of the human experience. Yes, success feels great, I know. But real success only comes when we are truly willing to accept that failure is an option and we will survive it. I can attest to that!
  2. Spend time loving on yourself to truly bolster your inner confidence. Embrace praise but don’t substitute it for your own internal positive self-talk. What do you say to yourself in your down time? Are you building and lifting yourself up or tearing yourself down? Do you know that it doesn’t matter who thinks you’re awesome if you don’t?
  3. Focus on progress not perfection. High achievers are often perfection seekers. But the truth is that none of us is perfect. Aiming for perfection is a losing game. Instead aim to keep growing and learning. And learning some more.
  4. Recognize that you are so much greater than the “A”, the perfect 5 satisfaction rating, the exemplary performance—these are just metrics, you are divinely YOU in all your expression. The bible says, you are God’s masterpiece, created anew in Jesus Christ. Be not just satisfied, but awed with that.
  5. Know that having expectations of others is the pathway to disappointment. Chances are if you just concentrate on being the best version of yourself, the right people will notice and reward you accordingly. Let that be enough.
  6. Loosen up! Life is meant to be experienced and enjoyed. It’s a marathon not a sprint. Get those endurance muscles in gear and enjoy the long ride. And discover yourself along the way.

(c) Natalie Jobity

Related Posts:

Dare to be Brilliantly You

5 Steps to Leverage Your Vulnerability for Victory 

The 3 Ps: Patience, Perseverance and Prayer 

Be Simply Inspired 

 

Natalie Jobity is an inspirational author, freelance writer and editor, and marketing consultant. She consults with would be authors and writers on honing their “voice” so their words have the desired impact.  She is the author of the Amazon Best-selling style guide: Frumpy to Fabulous: Flaunting It. Your Ultimate Guide to Effortless Style. 

Contact her writer@nataliejobity.com

 

Five Ways to Use the Power of your Words for Good

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Lately I have been trying to pay attention to the words I use.  And what I hear myself speak does not always please me.  It’s bad enough that the occasional expletive still slips out of my mouth unawares, but I am actually more concerned about when I speak lack, destruction, failure or negativity of any kind into my life. Our words have power, yet we use them so thoughtlessly. I am as guilty of this as the next person.  I was just at the car dealership, complaining that I can’t afford to fix another problem with my VW Beetle. And the dealer, kept insisting, “Oh you can afford it, you are doing well, you’ve got loads of money”.  Then I began to come in agreement with him. I affirmed, “Yes you are right, I’m doing well”. This was my attempt at injecting positivity into my consciousness rather than lack.

What I’ve learned over time is that we do create our reality with the thoughts we think and the words we speak. If I want a future filled with prosperity, abundance, love, joy, peace, success and harmony, then I have to come into agreement with this vision with the words I use. Isaiah 55:11 underscores this point: “It is the same with my word. I send it out and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.” My words produce fruit. If they are life enhancing, my life will bear fruit accordingly.

The words we speak into others’ lives are just as important, especially those closest to us. Are our words to our loved ones enriching or are they destructive? Someone very creative came up with the acronym, T.H.I.N.K. as a guide to ensuring the words we speak to others are edifying.

  1. First, is what you are saying TRUE? Is it true about the situation, person or event? Is it an honest assessment or is it based on fear, ego, jealousy or judgement? Consider the motive behind what you are saying.
  2. Second, consider, is it HELPFUL? So often we can mistake criticism for helpfulness. We think if we point out what the person is doing wrong we are “helping” them. But are we? In most cases, aren’t we simply finding fault to boost our own pride and self-importance? Again, if we examine our motive, we will have the answer.
  3. Third, is what you are saying INSPIRING? Our words have power to build up and tear down. Are your words motivating and encouraging to your loved ones or are they self-esteem breakers? How are you using the power of your word with your child, spouse, sibling or co-worker? Are they being exalted by your praise or condemned by your judgement?
  4. Fourth, are your words NECESSARY? In business, there is the concept of “adding value”, meaning that one’s efforts augment the status quo. If there is no “value add” then the effort is wasted. Don’t waste your words. Use your power for good. You can be constructive without being critical. You can disagree without disapproving. You can correct without being caustic.
  5. Finally, is what you are saying KIND? Kindness is so underrated. Simple acts of kindness make a tangible difference to our environment, and ultimately to the world we live in. We show kindness to others by using words that make them feel good, words that bring a smile to their face, words which make them beam with pride. Our kindness begets more kindness. It self-perpetuates. When in doubt, just say whatever is kind.

Philippians 4:8 gives us further guidance on how we should think in our interactions with others: “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

Your word is your wand. Use it to uplift, inspire, and enrich others, and to create a beautiful and prosperous life.

Please share how you use your words for good.

Natalie Jobity is an inspirational author, freelance writer and editor, and marketing consultant. She consults with would be authors and writers on honing their “voice” so their words have the desired impact.  She is the author of the Amazon Best-selling style guide: Frumpy to Fabulous: Flaunting It. Your Ultimate Guide to Effortless Style.Contact her at nattyjay5@yahoo.com

Dare to Be Brilliantly You

self esteem drawing

When I was an image consultant, I used to give workshops to teens on image and self-esteem. I called the workshops, “Dare to be Brilliant”, and my intention was to give these young ladies a place to embrace healthy self-esteem ideas. One of the exercises I facilitated was for each of them to name 5 aspects of themselves that they absolutely loved. It could be anything–their finger nails, voice, or smile–the point was to make the girls aware of their positive attributes.

What was so heartwarming for me to observe was how comfortable and affirmed this exercise made them feel almost instantaneously. As each girl stood up to claim her positive attributes (clapping by the group was strongly encouraged), starting off shyly and uncertain at first perhaps, but by the end smiling and looking that much more confident, something substantial would have shifted. Her self–esteem would have soared and solidified that much more deeply within her. The gift in the exercise was daring to name it and claim it!

I share this experience to underscore the importance of healthy self-esteem and the power we each hold to bring it forth. Self-esteem describes a person’s overall sense of self-worth or personal value. It plays a role in every thought we think about ourselves, our sense of identity, in determining the yardstick against which we allow others to treat us, and in our level of success in life.

Dove’s groundbreaking, “The Real Truth About Beauty” campaign, delved into young women’s self-esteem, body image, and body confidence issues and uncovered the difficulty women and girls have in recognizing their real beauty. A startling statistic from the study finds that 6 in 10 girls will stop doing something they love because they feel badly about the way they look. Consider the implications of poor self-esteem on women’s career choices, educational achievement, relationships and lifestyle. Does your behavior foster healthy self-esteem?

As our culture becomes more technologically sophisticated, the rate at which we are bombarded by images which erode and negatively impact our self-esteem increase. How do we self-correct? How do we move the needle in the other direction? How do we stop ourselves from increasingly becoming a perfection striving, visually hungry, socially competitive generation who can never attain the impossibly high standards we set for ourselves? We get back to basics. We re-learn ways to honor and uphold the very best of ourselves as the uniquely individual beings we are. We feed and encourage healthy self-image habits in ourselves and those we mentor.

More than ever in today’s culture, ideas of beauty, success, achievement and creativity are converging around a “one size fits all” paradigm which snuffs the very life out of the individuality we seem to seek. We are more the same yet we are more intolerant of each other’s differences. We wave the flag of freedom and expression but only as long as the status quo remains intact. But we must remember that this very generation is a by-product of individuality and self-expression in full bloom.  The buck can’t stop here. We have to encourage our youth to dare to showcase their uniqueness in spite of the pressures to conform. Every human being has a fundamental need to belong. So to foster inclusiveness, without sacrificing uniqueness, a great measure of patience, humility and tolerance is called for.

In tangible terms what does that mean for you reading this? It means being true to yourself in a more embracive way than you may perhaps have allowed yourself to be in the past: being bold and unapologetically expressive, yet humble; being fearless in sharing your perspective of a given situation; being graciously honest with your feedback; being lovingly encouraging to those under your charge. Nurture your passions. Hone your skills. Be insatiably curious…about everything. Discover your purpose and challenge your beliefs. Unearth your significance to this earth. Trust in your innate excellence. Love from the inside, out. Love your God. Love yourself. Love your brothers and sisters. Isn’t this our ultimate call?

We have really only just begun to tap into the incredible abundance available to us. Our love is a resource we need to be using all the time. It is free, unlimited and cumulative. It starts with our love for ourselves, and our esteem for ourselves as a contributing member of society. Dare to be brilliantly you. Love will do the rest.

A bird sitting on a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking, because her trust is not on the branch but on its own wings. Always believe in yourself” – Unknown

Image credit: webpsychology.com

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Natalie Jobity is an inspirational author, freelance writer and editor, and marketing consultant. She consults with would be authors and writers on honing their “voice” so their words have the desired impact.  She is the author of the Amazon Best-selling style guide: Frumpy to Fabulous: Flaunting It. Your Ultimate Guide to Effortless Style.

Visit her blog at: http://nataliejobity.com/be-simply-inspired/