The Paradox of Strength.

Some lessons happen over a lifetime. Others happen in an instant.

Either way, the paradox of strength is that it develops though pain.

Each misfortune cultivates a renewed appreciation.

Each obstacle fosters a new level of perseverance.

Each sadness teaches a greater depth of compassion.

Each challenge harvests a new field of possibilities.

We must fall down to rise up.

Again and again and again.

300C4B0F-96A8-451D-80E4-661A55247701

Related Post: I've never met a strong person with an easy past.

Good news to share.

The Drive Blog Promo

Hope everyone’s having a great day! I wanted take a moment and share some good news with you.

In June I was interviewed by THE DRIVE magazine for an article on mental health and thriving under pressure.

The creative director saw my TEDx Talk and reached out for input into their next issue. How cool is that!

Consequently, I will be their mental health expert for their “Pushing through the Boundaries” issue being published in August.

Which includes a professional photo shoot at my most favourite place, Blue Heron Lake. Pinch me please!

Nourishing mental health while reaching for the stars is something I hold dear to my heart. So please stay tuned for the rest of the story!

I’ll be sure to post a link to the interview soon!

Your Turn:

I’d love to hear your good news too!

Is it possible to see failure in a positive light?

F. A. I. L.

= First Attempt At Learning

With time, I have come to realize that failure has always been my greatest teacher. Each failure pointed me in a better direction. Helped me to develop strength and authenticity. Ultimately unveiling who I was and what I was destined to become. 

  • The failing grade I received on my first exam in graduate school taught me how to ask for support when I needed it most. No matter how shameful I felt or embarrassed I was.
  • The end of a long-term relationship taught me how to value my time alone and make tough decisions for myself. No matter how weak I felt or lonesome I was.
  • The lay off from a job I loved taught me how to let go, look forward, and trust in something so much bigger than myself. No matter how scared I was or irrelevant I felt.

D7DAECE0-C8AF-4DD1-963F-E0759290F22D

What determines our reaction to failure?

Learning from failure is the ultimate goal. That said, not everyone responds to failure in the same way, at the same time.

Our reaction to failure is determined by several factors, including:

  1. The timing of the failure.
  2. The magnitude of the failure.
  3. The attribution attached to the failure.
  4. The level of support during the failure.
  5. The self-efficacy and belief in starting over.

Ask someone how they feel about failure in the midst of it; life as they know it is over. Ask someone how they feel about failure one year later; life as they know it has been transformed.

The key to supporting someone experiencing failure is not to rush them through the healing process. Yes, in the long run, the gifts of failure outweigh the costs.  But we must be sensitive to how dark it feels in the eye of the storm. Only then can move towards the light.

43A82B67-CCD3-464B-911E-11E323E94CF3

Is it possible to see failure in a positive light?

Under the right conditions, failure strengthens us, adds to our self-knowledge, and enhances the quality of our lives.

  • If it weren’t for failure, I would not have met my husband John.
  • If it weren’t for failure, I would not be a psychology professor.
  • If it weren’t for failure, I would not have written three textbooks.
  • If it weren’t for failure, I would not be the person I am today.

🌷  Your Turn  🌷

  • If it weren’t for failure _______________.
  • If it weren’t for failure _______________.
  • If it weren’t for failure _______________.
  • If it weren’t for failure _______________.

What life lessons has failure taught you?

Face it – You’re Strong!

fear

Everything you’re afraid of – you’ve already experienced.

Afraid of commitment?

(You’ve been dumped.)

Afraid of failure?

(You’ve failed.)

been there done that

Afraid of rejection?

(You’ve been rejected.)

Afraid of being broke?

(You’ve been without money.)

Fill in the blanks for me..

Afraid of being _________?

(You’ve been _________.)

And then vow to erase that fear in your life.

fear

By facing your fears head on.

Remember – you have been here before.

You have more knowledge and experience than you recognize.

You are braver than you realize.

You have faced this fear before.

fear2

 You have survived this fear before.

And you have thrived because of it.

(You may not realize it – but you have.)

Face it – you’re strong!

And you have the power to kick this fear right to the curb.

Once and for all!

image

Your final challenge is to embrace your power.

Full on!

See the light in others and treat them as if that’s all you see.

36015256-CE62-4E3C-AE55-2B1569B35309
Your strengths light my way. ✨

The field of positive psychology has been a blessing for me, both personally and professionally.

By focusing on strengths first, I buffer myself against the  vicarious trauma and compassion fatigue often associated with the practice of psychology. And in turn, my positive approach heightens the resilience and stress hardiness in others. (Boomerang effect!)

Everywhere I go, I’m on the lookout for genius. And I don’t mean genius in the general sense. I mean strengths, assets, gifts, capabilities, multiple intelligences that are unique to each person. (Einstein’s quote below captures it perfectly.)

3C5A5FA4-0516-4F4C-80A0-C655203099CF

For not only is strengths finding essential for illuminating the abundance in others, it is essential for harnessing the bounty in ourselves.

As each time we witness the light shining brightly in another, we see their radiance reflected back in ourselves.

5C16E586-6089-48DB-8323-05451F9505C7

Reflection Questions

Identify 2-5 strengths that you witnessed in others today. Describe how seeing the strengths in others brought out the strengths in you.

  1. Today I discovered my brother’s ___________.  This illuminated my:
  2. Today I noticed my colleague’s  ____________.  This bolstered my:
  3. Today I uncovered my neighbour’s  __________.  This reinforced my:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Related Post: Positive Psychology on Campus.

If you need help with finding the good in others especially the challenging people in your life click on this this link to a great article in Psychology Today.

Strengthened by adversity.

“Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.” C. S. Lewis

37510B67-939F-4C8B-9D65-5AD12702A686

When was the last time you had to start over?

This was a big week back at St. College College — and all colleges across Ontario. Students were returning to school after a 5 week province-wide strike.

An arduous situation that was well beyond student control.

So it was essential that I foster a safe space for students to transition back onto campus and into my psychology classroom. To help them begin again.

3AC76048-C111-4534-A657-02573B929DB1

My intention was to bridge the gap from stress to strength.

To remind them of times in their lives where they had experienced the stress of starting over. Including the strike. And triumphed despite all the suffering.

For it is in our dark times that we discover our light. And it is in our pain that we find our power. Difficult times force us to dig deep for courage and reach out for support.

A6853C6C-D353-450C-A57F-0E32576E0D36

And ultimately discover a strength far greater than any adversity.

This week I have never been more proud to be a college professor.

This week students taught me.


What strengths have helped you through challenge & adversity?

Related: The Paradox of Strength.

Thriving Under Pressure.

How can two people experience the same stressful event and react in incredibly different ways?  What explains the difference between stress thrivers and non-thrivers?

Research shows that some individuals possess a set of resilience skills and traits that allows them to flourish in response to stress.

“Resilience is what gives people the psychological strength to cope with stress. They understand that setbacks happen and sometimes life is hard and painful. They still experience the emotional pain, grief, and sense of loss that comes after a tragedy, but their mental outlook allows them to work through such feelings and recover.” Source: Living Well

IMG_2038

Building Stress Resilience

Stress hardiness is a pathway to resilience – the ability to remain healthy and strong during stressful and challenging times.

Hardy individuals transform stressful circumstances into growth opportunities by reframing adversity and taking direct action in response to stress.

growth-mindset-quote-carol-dweck

Bouncing Back from Adversity

In the video below, I describe the 3 key components of stress hardiness:

1. Control

– Focusing on the things you can change and letting go of the things you can’t.

E.g., “You hold the key.”

IMG_2072

2. Challenge

– Reframing stressful challenges as opportunities for growth.

E.g., “Strength Training.

DrWayneAndersen.com

3. Commitment

– Envisioning a higher purpose above and beyond the immediate stressor.

E.g., “Ask yourself why you started.

image

Each component a critical factor in cultivating the ability to bounce back and thrive under pressure.

Can Stress Hardiness be Learned?

Yes! Research demonstrates that not only can stress hardiness be learned, it has wide-ranging applications in health and wellness, including:

1. Lowering test anxiety in high school students.

2. Reducing perceived stress in college students.

3. Protecting against war-related stress in Army Reserve forces.

4. Improving resilience and coping skills in stressed out professionals.

IMG_1995

Related Post: What's your stress threshold?

Teaching Stress Resilience at School.

How can educators help foster stress resilience in their students?

Resilience begins with a strength mindset.

At the start of my  stress resilience presentation  I discuss how openness to challenge is essential for success.

Too much time in our comfort zone stalls growth. Feeling safe is important. But we shouldn’t consider it a resting place. More of a launching pad!

Reframe openness as a verb and challenge your students to try something new today!

Letting life flow.

Stressful Times.

The one word I hear repeatedly from students this time of year is drowning.

Drowning in bills. Drowning in midterms. Drowning in research.

IMG_2366

Not a pleasant thought. And definitely not energizing.

A sinking feeling that takes student motivation from 100 to 0 in an instant.

By thought alone.

Empowering Lessons.

How can we help students to feel more empowered in the midst of winter weather, too many midterms, and not enough time.

Transforming Stressors.

We meet students where they’re at. By embracing that stressful, drowning thought and transforming it into a peaceful, floating feeling. By helping students feel safe and supported. In and out of the classroom.

img_0573

Trusting the Flow.

We remind students of their resilience. We show them how far they’ve come. We encourage them to flow with the moment instead of fighting against the current. Then and only then can the focused learning begin.

 

Video from today's psychology class. 🌊

What helps you go with the flow?