Bouncing back from difficulty


Merriam-Webster’s definition of resilience is an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.

As I was pondering the importance of resilience, I came across an October 2016 “People” magazine article by Jeff Nelson about Olympic figure skater Scott Hamilton. I have always admired Scott’s incredible talent and his seemingly endless joy and upbeat attitude. He’s fun to watch on the ice and equally interesting to listen to in the broadcast booth, and I can only imagine how engaging he must be as a skating coach. I’ve secretly wished I could witness him on the ice in person and after reading his recent response to what many would see as the unfair hand he’s been dealt, his hero status for me has grown exponentially because of his resilience in the face of another diagnosis of a life-changing illness.

What I didn’t know until reading the article and watching the accompanying video (Google it – he’s astounding) is that Scott was diagnosed last fall for the third time with a brain tumor. Keep in mind, he first faced cancer in 1997 when he fought – and won – a battle against testicular cancer. His previous brain tumor diagnoses were in 2004 and 2010. According to Jeff, Scott’s recent diagnosis is a benign pituitary tumor.

After acknowledging his deep faith, Scott says he always, no matter what happens, celebrates life. ‘“The first thing I teach skaters at my skating academy is how to get up — because we’re going to fall,” Hamilton says. “And that’s how I live my life: I’m going to fall down, I’m going to make mistakes, I’m going to do all kinds of things that I’m going to wish didn’t happen. But it’s what’s next — it’s how you get up … The more times you get up, the stronger you are to face the next thing, which will happen — because that’s life.”’

What a lesson for all of us. No matter what comes at you, whether it’s illness, family issues, disappointment at school or on the job, do what you must to deal with the situation and then figure out how to move on.

 How do you develop a personal strategy for dealing with life’s difficulties? What behaviors, thoughts and actions that result in resilience can be learned by each of us? Here are some suggestions:

Make connections. Feeling connected through relationships with friends, family or others and actively participating in community groups including civic and faith-based organizations helps strengthen resilience.

Accept change. Life is full of change and accepting what’s out of your control allows you to focus on circumstances that you can affect.

Set goals. What can you accomplish that helps you move in your desired direction? Each day, consider one thing you can work on that will help you attain a goal.

Take decisive actions. Don’t wallow in the stress of a bad situation, do what you can to impact it.

Appreciate growth. Look for the positives that come out of negatives. Better relationships, an increased sense of self-worth or an enhanced appreciation for life may result from struggle.

View yourself in a positive light. Have confidence in your problem solving skills.

Keep things in perspective. Often when we set our troubles aside and look at what others are dealing with, we realize that what we’re facing is not insurmountable.

Remain hopeful. An optimistic attitude counts for a lot. Expect a positive outcome.

Take care of yourself. Eat well, get enough sleep and exercise to prepare yourself to deal with the inevitable unexpected things life will throw your way.

Penny Sitler is Executive Director of Mental Health America of Licking County.

Found in The Newark Advocate January 21, 2017


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