About a year ago I wrote about the inspirational message that Sheryl Sandberg wrote after an inconceivable loss and her ability to pull herself up and face the day with courage. It was a great example of how to handle adversity and courage through the fear.
She recently gave a commencement speech to the Berkeley Graduating Class of 2016 in which she talked about what she has learned in the year since her loss. Her thoughtful comments about how to overcome deep adversity (no matter what form it takes) are inspirational.
She quoted psychologist Martin Seligman, who found that there are three things that are critical to how we bounce back from hardship and that resilience is formed in the way we process the negative events in our lives. Here are a few key excerpts:
The first P is personalization — the belief that we are at fault. This is different from taking responsibility, which you should always do. This is the lesson that not everything that happens to us happens because of us.
The second P is pervasiveness — the belief that an event will affect all areas of your life. You know that song “Everything is awesome?” This is the flip: “Everything is awful.” There’s no place to run or hide from the all-consuming sadness.
The child psychologists I spoke to encouraged me to get my kids back to their routine as soon as possible. So ten days after Dave died, they went back to school and I went back to work. I remember sitting in my first Facebook meeting in a deep, deep haze. All I could think was, “What is everyone talking about and how could this possibly matter?” But then I got drawn into the discussion and for a second — a brief split second — I forgot about death.
That brief second helped me see that there were other things in my life that were not awful. My children and I were healthy. My friends and family were so loving and they carried us — quite literally at times.
The third P is permanence — the belief that the sorrow will last forever. For months, no matter what I did, it felt like the crushing grief would always be there.
We often project our current feelings out indefinitely — and experience what I think of as the second derivative of those feelings. We feel anxious — and then we feel anxious that we’re anxious. We feel sad — and then we feel sad that we’re sad. Instead, we should accept our feelings — but recognize that they will not last forever. My rabbi told me that time would heal but for now I should “lean in to the suck.” It was good advice, but not really what I meant by “lean in.”
The three P’s are common emotional reactions to so many things that happen to us — in our careers, our personal lives, and our relationships. You’re probably feeling one of them right now about something in your life. But if you can recognize you are falling into these traps, you can catch yourself. Just as our bodies have a physiological immune system, our brains have a psychological immune system — and there are steps you can take to help kick it into gear.
Finding gratitude and appreciation is key to resilience. People who take the time to list things they are grateful for are happier and healthier. It turns out that counting your blessings can actually increase your blessings. My New Year’s resolution this year is to write down three moments of joy before I go to bed each night. This simple practice has changed my life. Because no matter what happens each day, I go to sleep thinking of something cheerful. Try it. Start tonight when you have so many fun moments to list.
I hope that you live your life — each precious day of it — with joy and meaning. I hope that you walk without pain — and that you are grateful for each step.
And when the challenges come, I hope you remember that anchored deep within you is the ability to learn and grow. You are not born with a fixed amount of resilience. Like a muscle, you can build it up, draw on it when you need it. In that process you will figure out who you really are — and you just might become the very best version of yourself.
Build resilience in yourselves. When tragedy or disappointment strike, know that you have the ability to get through absolutely anything. I promise you do. As the saying goes, we are more vulnerable than we ever thought, but we are stronger than we ever imagined.
Pretty powerful stuff right! Here is a link that will take you directly to the Huffington Post which published her entire speech.
Build Your Resilience Muscle!
-MaryPosted on by Mary Holloway Enterprises