survival mode

Book Review: Resilience

I wrote a precursor to this review called Chronic Illness: Resiliency to express my ways of dealing with resiliency. Now. Because I have had some hard blows and been knocked down for the count. So I wrote that in anticipation for Resilience. The full title is Resilience: Powerful Practices for Bouncing Back from Disappointment, Difficulty, and Even Disaster by Linda Graham. I wrote that post about resiliency because I find essential in life… but vital in chronic illness. But how do you get that resiliency you Know you lack or how do you improve it? And that, my friends, is what this book is all about. Practices to get you there. It is all about neuroplasticity in our brains and how to train our brain into better responses to traumatic experiences and illness.

Book review-Resilience

“How you respond to the issue is the issue.”

This is done by:

  1. Conditioning: Creating new responses to habituated responses. Like how I try to create a new response to negative thoughts.
  2. New Conditioning: This is a deliberate action on our part to choose to interact with experience that will change the function of the brain into the desired direction.
  3. Reconditioning: Reconditioning or reframing disturbing experiences
  4. Deconditioning: This is where we use meditation and guided meditation to just explore possibilities. Where we can stop ourselves from ruminating (I do that a lot.) and disassociating (breaking away from the experience entirely) and pulling ourselves into just physical sensation.

I say to work through the book bit by bit practicing and reinforcing the exercises laid out. I am doing the first bit of exercise repeatedly every day at this point. And I hope to slowly integrate the ones that work for me into daily life.

I want you to understand how important this is:

When my insurance company kicked me off long term saying I was ‘significantly better’ and the pain hadn’t been managed and I was suicidally depressed…. I should have fought them tooth and nail because I knew I was incapable of work and that work would actually be dangerous to my mental health. But I didn’t. I folded. I gave up. I told myself if society wants me to suffer I guess my job is to just suffer. And suffer I did when I returned. And, yes, I had a second suicide attempt. This is where I needed the skills of resiliency to confront what was traumatic to me… pushing me back to work… so I could think of solutions, reframe the problem, calm my nervous system and fight back. With chronic pain and chronic illness, we constantly need resiliency from outside factors and from the constant stress of our existence. And there are times I just do not have it. Times when I was deeply depressed it was like I didn’t even have the energy to be resilient.

Here is a section to read:

On Shame and the Inner Critic

An excerpt from Resilience: Powerful Practices for Bouncing Back from
Disappointment, Difficulty, and Even Disaster by Linda Graham

Everyone knows what it’s like to be knocked off center, to lose their inner sense of balance and groundedness, at least temporarily, when faced with life’s unwanted curve balls. Whether it’s a troubling health diagnosis, the death of a loved one, a serious car accident, a layoff, or a natural disaster, life can intensely challenge our resilience.

In Resilience: Powerful Practices for Bouncing Back from Disappointment, Difficulty, and Even Disaster (New World Library, October 2, 2018), author and psychotherapist Linda Graham, MFT, guides readers step by step through a process of cultivating more well-being in their lives by strengthening their resilience so that they can respond skillfully to any upset or catastrophe that would derail that well-being. We hope you’ll enjoy this excerpt from the book.

# # #

Strengthening self-acceptance and trust in yourself as resilient, turning momentary experiences into reliably steady states and then into long-term permanent traits, can be a daily practice. Learning to hum along in your range of resilience, and to recover when you’re thrown about by choppy seas or full-scale hurricanes, is literally a lifelong practice. You practice, little and often, forever. You hope to eventually preempt being thrown.

Challenges to your sense of self-acceptance and self-trust can come at any moment. You might hear negative messages about yourself from others, whether they know you well or not at all. You may carry very powerful negative messages about yourself that come from early or recent experiences. You are vulnerable to messages from your inner critic or inner judge because, as human beings, we are universally vulnerable to the powerful, conditioned messages of shame.

Shame is one of the emotions intrinsic to being human — like anger, fear, sadness, surprise, and delight. We are hardwired to want to feel safe, to feel loved and lovable, to belong, to feel accepted and valued. These feelings are not about ego; they’re part of being a social animal. We depend on the love and affection of others to experience love and affection for ourselves. We need to feel we belong, to feel comfortable with our place in the tribe and in the world. When we feel rejected or excluded by others — when we’re blown off by a friend, passed over for a promotion at work, criticized in front of coworkers, or ridiculed at a family gathering, we are hardwired to feel shame.

Experiencing shame occasionally is inevitable. All tribes, clans, cultures, and societies have to teach their young the norms of acceptable (and life-saving) behaviors and how to stay deserving of the group’s protection, if not love. Shame arises when we pick up signals from people around us,
especially people we depend on for our survival, that we have done something they don’t approve of, or that we are something they don’t approve of.

It’s impossible to be perfect and meet other people’s expectations or plans for us all the time, and it’s impossible not to feel shame when we feel we have done, or we are, something wrong or bad. That sense of being wrong or bad is easily internalized: we begin to hear others’ negative messages as our own; we begin to listen to and believe the voice of our own inner critic. Every human being on the planet is vulnerable to the harsh messages that can come from a well-practiced inner critic or inner judge.

The derailing of resilience that results from shame is what most of my clients come into therapy for, what my workshop participants are most curious about, and what draws the most responses to my blog posts about recovering resilience.

Shame has been called the great disconnector; the inner critic is its relentless messenger. You can begin to counteract the effects of both shame and the inner critic by practicing self-awareness, self-compassion, self-acceptance, self-appreciation, and self-love.

# # #

Linda Graham, MFT, is the author of Resilience and also Bouncing Back, the winner of a 2013 Books for a Better Life Award. She is an experienced psychotherapist who integrates modern neuroscience, mindfulness practices, and relational psychology in her international trainings on resilience and well-being. Visit her online at http://www.lindagraham-mft.net.

Excerpted from the book Resilience: Powerful Practices for Bouncing Back from Disappointment, Difficulty, and Even Disaster. Copyright ©2018 by Linda Graham. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.

My review:

I think this book is helping me a lot and I know it is something I need to improve on. Especially with this downturn in my health. It is difficult to deal when your health suddenly gets worse than it already was. I think it would be great for all of us to engage in these exercises to help us adapt to the complications, emotions, and experience of chronic illness. We all want acceptance. We all want to be able to deal with the problems that arise with chronic illness like dealing with difficult insurance companies to our financial instability and debt… we want to know how to handle it with equanimity. I highly recommend it. It is a book made for us, even though it is for everyone. We always experience bumps in the road, potholes and cliffs. Chronic illness is a bumpy ride and to think that Resilience could help us with that is a great thing.

Frankly, I want to be empowered by adversity, change and thrive in it. I want to have the equanimity to make the decisions I need to.

Other reviews:

Review: Plot your health planner

Book review: The pain companion

Review: Battle Balm
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