Overcoming Fear with Resilience
by John Thurman
What makes people move through tough times?
In my last post, I talked about resilience and its importance in being an overcome in life. Resilient, tenacious people make things happen.
My friend and mentor, Dr. George Evelry has made it his life mission to understand resilience and the impact it has on people. In his first book Resilient Child (2009), he looked at factors which influenced children on the road to resilience. In 2012, his book Resilient Leadership (Everly, Strouse,& Everly), he was able to identify and explain leadership factors which build resilience in their teams and organizations. The undaunted researcher continued his studies and released the book Stronger (Everly, Strouse, & McCormack, 2015). In this resource, he looked into the psychological and behavioral factors present in professional athletes, U.S. Navy Seals, as well as those civilians and wounded service members who recovered from catastrophic injury.
What I find most exciting about his research is his discoveries can enable us to understand ourselves as we seek to have an impact on our families, ministries, and work.
The first trait of a resilient person has engaged optimism. The core belief that life events will turn out well, mainly because one believes she/he possess the ability to assist in making things turn out well. For the Christian, it may sound like the Apostle Pauls reminder in Philippians 1:6, "And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns."
One of the keys to understanding active optimism is to realize it is not some “pie in the sky, the world is all rainbows and lollipops.” Dynamic optimism is based on having realistic expectations.
Another key to understanding dynamic optimism is to understand the term self-efficacy. This term was coined by Dr. Albert Bandura (1977; 1997) and means “beliefs in one’s capabilities to organize and execute the courses of action required to produce given attainments.” Another definition is the person’s belief in his or her ability to succeed in a given situation.
My question is; Why do so many Christian businessmen and women, ministry leaders, and others struggle with this idea.
I think it is because of our mindset. I do not believe it is a matter or faith, but more about our mindset.
So John, what are some things I can do to increase my optimism?
Part of developing active optimism has the right mindset.
Dr. Carolyn Dweck’s book Mindset: The new Psychology of Success looks into this matter with great skill and practical insights.
Here is an excerpt from one of my blogs from a couple of years ago.
First, choose to shift into a “growth mindset.”Dr. Carol Dweck, the author of Mindset, spent her life researching the origins of mindsets, their role in motivation and self-regulation, and their impact on achievement and interpersonal processes. Her findings give us two options, a growth mindset or a fixed mindset.
A “fixed mindset” is one in which you believe you are born with a particular set of talents, abilities, and intelligence—all of which are unchangeable. Some people with a fixed mindset may find it harder to experience life change and growth. As a result, a fixed-mindset person fails to develop his abilities and is more likely to give up or become distracted and feel depressed when he fails to make the grade in his own eyes. I believe this is where so many fruitless Christians are stuck; they believe they have no power to change, which is a lie from the pit of hell. In my first book Get a Grip on Depression, I reveal six of the most common, fixed mindsets, or "stinking thinking" patterns that can hold us back. Why not order a copy today.
A person with a growth mindset begins in a different place. When you have a growth mindset, you see yourself and others as more flexible, adaptable, and hopeful. Way down inside, you know the potential for growth and development. With faith, the proper motivation, effort, moral compass, and concentration you have the ability to make the changes you need to make. A person who has a growth mindset does not take failure so personally. That individual tends to see failure as an opportunity for growth. If one path does not work, then the person will try another.
As a Christian therapist, I believe the Bible continually teaches the benefit of being growth-minded. I believe God is active in time, space, and history and He has an active, life-fulfilling plan for each of us. The Bible gives us truth, hope, and stories of those who have gone before us and have found such purpose.
From my struggle in this area, I know working toward a growth mindset in the middle of depression may seem close to impossible. However, the truth found in the Bible is, “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength”(Philippians 4:13 NLT). This confidence is not some magical incantation or mystical, spiritual event, but it is a process or a journey.
In addition to checking out your mindset here are four more ways to increase active optimism.
1.Being successful at something. Actual success builds the belief that one can be successful in the future. Past successes, no matter how small are the building blocks for future successes.
2.Vicarious experiences (observational learning, modeling, imitation) increase the overall confidence of people observes the actions of others. For example, my wife is a Senior Leader in Premier Designs Jewelry; she has been involved with this outstanding company for the past 25 years. Over these two and a quarter decades she has shared her story of abuse, recurrent major depression and suffering a Moderate Traumatic Brain Injury and how she built her business in spite of those challenges. Her hope is by sharing her story; she will inspire her audiences to embrace their challenges with a growth mindset and trust the Lord to bless.
3.Verbal persuasion and encouragement from others enhance self-esteem and resilience. Parents, leaders, coaches, co-workers and teammates have a positive impact on self-efficacy. These various sources of support help set the stage for success. Finding a supportive and encouraging mentor can mean the difference between failure and success in nearly every area of one’s life.
4. Learning to control one’s impulses, emotions, and reactivity under stress and adversity can convey a confidence which translates into proactive resilience.
So what do you want to do? Are you happy where you are? Alternatively, do you want to work on a reset, moving towards a growth mindset, and a more optimistic world view? The Lord put you on this earth to have an impact! One of the ways you can move out of the shadows and into the light is to open your mind to the things the Lord wants to show you and have the courage to live with an optimistic world view.
I’d love to hear what you think. Feel free to leave a comment.
(c) 2017 John Thurman All rights reserved.
John is a Counselor, Author, Speaker and Photographer that helps people "Get a Grip on Life."