Carol the Coach: Resilience Requires a Strong Support Network

Resilience is necessary to deal with the hardships of life. We all face crises and adversity in our lives and yet we get very little instruction on how to handle it. Think back to your own childhood or teenage years and ask yourself how did you face any adversity that frightened you or caused you great distress? Who was there to support you through the crisis and assist you in developing resources to understand what was happening in your life? What people were in your life to help to protect you as you moved forward through the crisis? Think back over your life and assess what past experiences resulted in a feeling of confusion, sadness, panic or anxiety. Perhaps you lost a friend to cancer, your parents divorced, you were rejected by your peer group, or you changed schools frequently.

Often times these experiences set you up to feel inadequately prepared for life as an adult. When you experienced those feelings were you more likely chose to go into a fight, flight or freeze mode? Those three responses were commonly used in the caveman’s day but now we have evolved into using more sophisticated coping mechanisms when introduced to danger or uncertainty.

Current day stressors as an adult may look more situational in nature like losing our partner, having a sick child, getting a divorce, being terminated from a job, or other devastating issues we can face as we travel through the journey of life.

Resilience skills means finding a support system that will not judge you but will listen as you talk through your feelings. Who do you have in your corner who actively listen as you share your feelings? If you are divorced have you joined a divorce group? If your lost a child have you started a bereavement class? Support is the key to getting healthy.

  • How are you practicing self-care?
  • What opportunities have you set up to take care of yourself, practice healthy life skills such as meditation, prayer, exercise, and other activities that promote rest and relaxation?
  • Who is available to sit with you as  you define your boundaries?
  • What have you put in place to feel safe in the face of the crisis?
  • How you set up your life circumstances so that you stay protected and safe?
  • What avenues have you created to share your feelings in a way that allows you to remain grounded and centered no matter what has happened to you?
  • What have you put in place to remain confident and positive.
  • It is not uncommon to want to discredit yourself when bad things happen in your life. Who is there to sit with you and remind you of your character strengths and positive attributes so that you can feel capable of getting through the trauma?
  • If you are currently going through a crisis, allow yourself an opportunity to increase your self-care, remain positive and focused. How can you continue to feed yourself positive thoughts and maintain a sense of safety and stability? Who can be that supportive network for you so that you don't have to feel all alone in the crisis? 

When you have these key elements in place, you are much more likely to handle the stressors with confidence and grace?

Life is all about setting up supports to teach us resilience and competency. What do you need to feel stronger and wiser so that you feel the feelings of adversity and then allow them to strengthen your sense of self-worth?

Carol Juergensen Sheets, LCSW PCC is a psychotherapist and personal life coach. She does motivational speaking and empowerment trainings locally and nationally. To find out more about her services, contact her or call her at 317-218-3479. You can watch Carol the Coach segments on WTHR's Channel 13 Wednesdays at 12:50PM.

"Carol the Coach": The Illusion of Love

Do you know someone who is in love with a figment of her imagination?  You know the type.  You have a friend who has conjured up, in her own mind, a scenario that reflects what she wants the situation to be…as opposed to what it really is.  

I recently saw a man who was not being treated well by his wife. They hadn’t had sex in months. She was always choosing her kids over him, berated him constantly and spent their money impulsively. After describing this dead-end relationship, he began to talk about how much they loved each other and about their plans for the future.  Although he bemoanedthe lack of love in the relationship, he quickly went into denial and stated that all he wanted to do was help her work through her issues.  He was clearly in love with the fantasy of love and was not clearly seeing the reality of his situation! 

This often occurs in dating.  For instance, a woman will come in and report that she’s still seeing Tom and that she is more in love than ever.  As we explore the mutuality of the relationship, my client will describe the real scenario.  Her boyfriend is not communicating.  She does not hear from him for days and he has not invested anything financially or emotionally towards their relationship for months or possibly years.  It appears that the relationship is not dependable yet my client seems to be “in love with being in love”, and in actuality she is getting nothing back in return. 

Although she may be able to fool herself for awhile, eventually she becomes saturated with disappointment and can no longer deny unacceptable behavior from the other person. 

There is no reason to accept sub-standard behavior or “to accept the crumbs” just to have someone in your life.  The first step to getting the love you want is to get honest with yourself and decide what you want from a partnership or a dating relationship.

Next it’s important to assess whether you can retrain your partner to be more reciprocal.  Unfortunately, you have likely put up with the old behaviors for months or years. Therefore, the behavior is pretty ingrained making redirecting or retraining tough. Practice being clear and direct with your loved one and let him or her know what your expectation looks like.  It may be, “Tom if you don’t call me by mid-week, I will no longer be available to you at midnight for a nightcap.” Or, “Jason, when you avoid my calls or refuse to make plans with me, I will need to make other plans.”  To the unfaithful spouse, “If you continue to cheat on me I will make the decision to seek an attorney and file for a formal separation because I will no longer put up with the third person in our relationship”.   

If your partner can’t or won’t alter the behavior, it is time for you to seek professional guidance.  If counseling is not helpful, you will have to make the difficult decision to end the relationship.  This of course means that you will need to get healthy so that you don’t repeat the same mistakes in your next relationship. 

All of this work requires that you get out of denial and get honest with yourself about what you aren’t getting from your partner.  “Being in love with being in love” is never enough to build a relationship.