Do you hold onto negative feelings of presumed failure? When something bad happens to you do you fight back, or do you get bogged down and discouraged? Do you believe in yourself and have self-worth?
I am the proud mom to an 8 –year old little man, who recently was given the Resiliency Award in his home room class. I couldn’t be prouder. Of course, it got me thinking and was the motivation for this week’s blog post.
What does it mean to be resilient? Basically, it means you are able to withstand or recover from difficult conditions. You are mentally strong.
One of the most important qualities a human can have is the ability to bounce-back from difficult situations. Your mental strength is a driving factor in the overall success of your life.
Whether you were just fired from a job, or dumped by a guy, your ability to bounce back is directly related to the level of happiness that you will achieve in life. Maybe you were in a car accident that changed you physically, or someone close to you passed away?
Your ability to bounce back from something traumatic in your life is the ultimate determining factor in your overall happiness.
Some people don’t have the mental strength to bounce back. Some are not resilient, so one bad incident in their life can derail them forever. It doesn’t have to be that way. You are not what happens to you. You are what you make of yourself. You have the power to drastically change things in your life.
You Have More Power Than You Know
I remember when I was 22-years old. It was the last time that I spoke to my biological father. He was never very present in my life, but this time he finally disappeared for good. He didn’t tell me good bye. He just never contacted me again. I heard rumors that he moved back to Ohio and was about to marry wife #5. Yep, wife #5. Crazy.
I felt completely powerless.
For years after this happened, I was a mess, as far as men and dating were concerned. I had classic abandonment issues, and it’s still something I struggle with to this day. In fact, my husband knows that he can never leave without saying “good bye” and “I will be back” or “see you later.” He knows that’s my weakness. He is the best. Through lots of counseling and years of working on my self-esteem, I’ve finally gotten to a place in my life that I’ve forgiven my father. It wasn’t until I forgave him, that I was finally able to move on and make real changes in my life. (Read about the Power of Forgiveness if you missed last week’s post)
I always say, that if he were to come back into my life, and apologize, I would try to have a relationship with him. I would have very strict and clear boundaries. I wouldn’t expect very much from him, but I would practice kindness and give him a chance. I do believe that people have the power to change, if they really want to. If he disappointed me again, or proved to still be an unhealthy person, then sadly I would end the relationship for good.
I remember I was dating my college boyfriend at the time when my dad took off. My dad missed my birthday and Christmas, again. It was pretty typical behavior of him so I didn’t think too much of it. Then I heard from mutual friends of my parents that he had moved back to Ohio. I still remember crying uncontrollably when I found out. I was heartbroken and devastated. The one man in my life, who was supposed to love me unconditionally and take care of me, just up and left without so much as a good bye.
What does this to do a person? A lot of women would let this determine their self-worth. A lot of women would date jerks because that is what they feel they deserve. I did that for a while. I was this person.
One day she woke up and decided she was worthy. And her soul cried out with Joy. ~ Marlou Falstreau
This is the quote on the home page of my site. You can read the story behind it here. Why did this happen to me? Why did I wake up one day and decide that I deserved better? I wanted it, and I was willing to work for it. That’s why. That’s all. I also had a very loving and supportive mother and step-father. I had good friends in my life who would often ask me why I put up with such bad behavior from men. I jumped from one relationship to the next, trying desperately to fill the void in my life. Even if you don’t have someone in your life to support you, that’s okay. It’s okay because once you discover you are worth it, then you are only willing to let people into your life that support you. That is how you surround yourself with good people. You have to allow nothing less. You have to know you’re worth it. Even if you don’t know for sure, you have to believe in yourself. You are worth it!
I still haven’t spoken with my father to this day, and I’m okay with that. I realize now, that it’s probably best for me to no longer have him in my life. He was unstable, and he didn’t live in reality. He constantly let me down. He also taught me a lot of unhealthy behaviors. Behaviors that I had to un-learn as an adult, if I wanted to have healthy relationships. My relationship with my college boyfriend inevitably ended. I began to have a negative connotation of men. I didn’t trust men anymore. Why should I? The one man I was supposed to be able to trust, took off.
I suffered for years because of this. I dated men who didn’t treat me well. I dated men who were physically and verbally abusive. I allowed bad behavior because my self-esteem was low. I got married and then divorced. I realized I was married to someone who would never be there for me emotionally. Just like my dad wasn’t there. I made very bad choices when it came to men.
Never Give Up
I never gave up. Deep down I knew my worth, but my dad leaving at that time really threw me through a loop. He left right before I was about to graduate from college and enter the big scary real world! I entered the real world feeling very uneasy and unsure. I felt like I had part of the ground ripped out from under me. I was supposed to be on cloud nine and ready to conquer the world. I wasn’t. I was completely unsettled.
Every time I dated some jerk who treated me badly, I eventually dumped him. It took longer than it should have, but I eventually did. Deep down I knew my worth, but I still struggled to demonstrate that to the men I dated. I didn’t know my value, truly. Or perhaps I did, but I didn’t really know how to show it. I was definitely unsure of my value at the time. Do you know your value?
Deep down, I had this fear that all men would go away, just like my dad did. As a result, I was very afraid to be alone and I allowed bad behavior from men.
Do you allow bad behavior in your relationships? Do you know why?
I used to analyze “why” to death, and one day I finally realized something. The why’s don’t really matter. They don’t matter because the work you need do in order to get to a better place, is the same. If you have a low self-esteem, you have to do the work to find your value. It doesn’t really matter why you are like that or when it happened. The only thing that matters is what you do as a result. You have to do the work. You have to believe in yourself. You have to believe, even if you don’t have anyone in your life to remind you.
The only thing that matters is that you are resilient. You have to bounce back. You cannot let one unfortunate part of your life effect your happiness. Sure, it’s good to have a basic understanding of “why.” Therapy can help with that. I think sometimes, unfortunately, that we get so bogged down into the “whys” that it keeps us stuck in the same place. We say, I am the way I am, because “fill in the blank.” We tend to let our past define us. I truly believe that it doesn’t matter. I truly believe that things happen to us for a reason. I truly believe that you determine where you go in life.
Nothing can stop you except your own perceptions and self-inflicted limitations.
Sadly, the only person that holds us back from happiness and success is ourself. We are our own worst enemy, right? Do you back down from a fight? Do you back down to your subconscious mind telling you that you don’t deserve better? Do you entertain the negative self-talk?
My dad was a horrible parent. You know what? As a result, I make a point to tell my kids multiple times a day that I love them. I never miss an important event in their life because of work. I make a point to simply show up. I show up more as a parent because I know what it’s like to have a parent who isn’t emotionally available. I know what it’s like to have an event at school that I’m proud of, and to not see my dad in the audience. I am a better mom because of my dad.
Of course, I didn’t learn what I should do, but I learned what not to do. I learned what my children need, because I didn’t get it. I never take for granted the relationships that I have with my children. I took the bad in my life, and I did something positive with it.
I think people who are resilient are able to look at things more objectively, and not take things so personally.
Maybe you got fired from a job and that’s a good thing? Maybe it wasn’t a good fit for you? Maybe you are better suited to do something else? Maybe now you will find your dream job? Maybe, my dad leaving had absolutely nothing to do with me? Maybe, he had his own internal struggles that he was unable to overcome? (I know this now) Maybe he knew he would never be worthy of having a daughter like me? Maybe, it was for the best that he was no longer in my life? Maybe, it would make me a better parent?
Maybe you got into this horrible car accident and survived for a reason? What message can you spread as a result? Was someone texting while driving? Drinking and driving? Why did you survive? What message did you receive from this event in your life, and what are you going to do about it?
How can you channel the negative energy into something positive? What lesson can you learn that will now allow you to have a better life? You see I believe the worst things that happen to us, can be a blessing in disguise, if we are open to looking at it from a different perspective. Once you get over the initial trauma of the event, you have to pick yourself up, and think of something that you can do that will make this event worthwhile. You have to overcome the negative thoughts, and push yourself to think positive. Then you have to take action.
This is very difficult to do for some people. It’s easier to play the victim. It’s easier to not take responsibility for your life. It’s easier to fall back into bad habits. Instead of feeling sorry for yourself, what did you learn that can make your life better? Maybe, you learned something that will help make another person’s life better? I think part of being resilient is also your ability to see the silver lining. Are you able to take a horrible situation and make something good come of it?
Failure is a bruise. Not a tattoo. – John Sinclair
Whenever something bad happens to me, I try my best to think. How can I make this better? What did I learn, and how can this make me a better person? What can I do differently next time? I don’t wallow in self pity. I also forgive myself for not making better choices. I tell myself “I will do better next time.” The only person who is going to make your life better is you. Nobody else will.
I know a lot of my readers are self-aware and know this already. Maybe there is someone out there that you know, that needs to hear this right now? Maybe, there is someone out there who just had something horrible happen to them?
I couldn’t possibly be any prouder of my son for getting the “Resilience Award.” Life is hard, but if it weren’t for the downs there wouldn’t be any ups. I know how difficult life’s journey can be. I also know there are others who would think despite my challenges that my life is pretty great. I am thankful for what I have. I want to be sure that my children know how to bounce back. They will have the rest of their lives to be challenged, and that is okay. I want them to be resilient. I want them to always be able to look at what they have and to be thankful for that, rather then be resentful of the things they don’t have. Life is too short.
So, my message is this. Be resilient. Take the worst situation and make something good come of it. There is so much sadness in this world. How can you take what happened to you, and help another person? For every bad thing that happens to you in your life, there is someone out there who had the same thing happen to them. How can you help that person get through it? How can you look at the silver lining?
You are not alone.
Face your challenges head on. Be strong. Think positive. Be resilient.
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