Just like death and taxes, stress and adversity are inevitabilities of life. Every single person will (at one stage or another) be faced with some sort of hardship that they must overcome. Yet it seems there are so many of us that are so ill-equipped to deal with them.
Why? And what is it? What is that one thing that determines how well someone overcomes stress and adversity in life?
The answer? RESILIENCE.
So what is resilience? From a psychological perspective, it’s defined as an individual’s ability to properly adapt to stress and adversity. It’s what I like to call ‘the art of bouncing back’.
And what would I know about resilience? Well, pull up a chair, take a seat and give yourself a few minutes to read on…
I learned first hand what resilience is really all about at the tender age of 24: I was diagnosed with cancer and given 6 months to live.
Nothing I’d ever learned could have prepared me from such a serve from left field. My marriage fell apart, my throat was cut open (twice)… and I found my voice! A hell of a way to ultimately gain such an invaluable ‘gift’.
That was 23 years ago.
I was promoted internally by my employer at the time (one of Australia’s largest mining companies) and relocated to Brisbane, leaving behind my support networks and family. Facing a new job, unpredictable treatment regimes, and a lot of one-way streets, I embarked on an adventure of discovery — a discovery and reconnection with my true self, away from the influences of loved ones who I’d endeavoured to please and appease in a desperate attempt to gain their approval, love and sense of belonging.
Have you ever found yourself behaving in ways which somehow felt uneasy? When there’s a battle between an internal moral compass and a brain that tells you how you ‘should’ behave? Well, I’d had enough of that.
I was offered a second chance at life and I was grabbing it with both hands.
Whilst in ICU recovering from the second surgery, I flat-lined twice and also had two out-of-body experiences. What I learned from this is that it’s not death that we must fear… It’s not living fully that we ought to be more concerned about.
In this ‘other’ space, on the other side of life and living, I touched a place of serenity and deep peace. I learned that ‘suffering’ is something we create ourselves, and something we can most certainly transform by changing the way we think.
You’d think one bout of cancer would be enough for one lifetime, but there was more for me to learn…
While completing my studies in the Neuroscience of Leadership, I was diagnosed with a brain tumour and underwent cranial surgery in 2010. All of a sudden everything I’d learn about the brain became very real.
For six months I could not walk or talk properly. It was at this vital time that I was able to apply all the lessons I’d acquired from my studies to improve my chances of making a full recovery. And I did!
What I experienced first hand is that because of the brain’s built-in negativity bias, essential for survival, we can ruminate on negative feelings, experiences and thoughts which can lead to anxiety and depression.
We equally have the authority to transform our thinking and our experiences to become platforms from which to learn, grow and strengthen. Will you join me here?
Building Personal Resilience
I want people to learn from my experiences, without having to learn ‘the hard way’ as I did. This is why my signature work of recent years has been focused on The Neuroscience of Resilience.
I want people just like you to know how to practically and sustainably build skills which can support you throughout the various seasons of our lifetime. If it worked for me, I know it can work for you too.
I’m honoured to work with some amazing men and women who are committed to doing their best work in their organisations for the greater good. They too have reported significant benefits from learning about the science which underpins our reflexive vs reflective behaviours which effect all aspects of our life.
I want you to know that you always have choice — even when it doesn’t appear that way. You can create a much happier life simply by shifting your mindset and applying a brain-based approach.
Easy? No. Worth it? YES!
I believe life doesn’t happen TO us, it happens FOR us. What will it be for you? Leave your comments below. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
I leave you with this powerful message from Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves: Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us. It’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
I wish you every joy and success life has to offer!
Originally published at josiethomson.com on September 1, 2014.