RESILIENCE – Embrace Change or Become Stagnant

In my LinkedIn messages the other day there were a number of articles about being thrown Curve Balls in life, and how some very successful people handled them. Good inspiration, I thought. At least for those ‘special few people’ like Tony Robbins, Richard Branson, and my friend Harry who apparently showed up on the planet with the gift of resilience in their genes. Or who were blessed with the attitude of “quickly get back on the horse when it throws you off”. But what if you haven’t been endowed with those genes or that “so what” attitude that enables you to just keep on keeping on when life throws you those curve balls?


The majority of my coaching is in working with people who have just lost a job, or are in a work or life situation that is no longer seems bearable. It’s one thing to be a good listener, offer inspiration and encouragement, or reinforce and acknowledge inherent abilities and small wins. Or even suggest new possibilities relating to skills or past successes and passions. But without resilience, or the courage to embrace fear and disappointment and be willing to move on, many of those folks appear to languish or become stagnant.


One reason I know this is because in the past I have fallen prey to rejection, which often left me feeling quite devastated. When I was stuck in a languishing mode, my friend Harry’s consulting advice was to just “shake it off and move on,” which I had trouble even understanding. In looking back I suspect I was caught in a deeply embedded limiting belief (unworthiness) which resulted in a feeling of helplessness to do anything to change. Simply put, I was not yet ready or willing to fully feel and embrace my negativity, see it as a story and not as real, and then drop the interpretation I made up and let it go.


Fortunately (!?), the ‘Universe’ threw enough of those curve balls my way to work through and learn to master in order to identify with those I coach. But how am I to teach resilience? ‘Not possible’ is the immediate answer that came to me . . . but maybe I can at least point the way to overcoming the ‘stuckness’ that often paralyzes those dealing with a major or fearful change. Here is the Five-Step Cycle of Overcoming that I share with my clients in those situations:


  1. Come to realize that trying to ‘think away’ the experience and replace it with a new thought will not work, even if it may seem to temporarily help.


  1. Identify the feeling that arises, and possibly relate it to a prior experience when the interpretation of that past experience initially created the belief and resulting negative interpretation. (When repeated over time, the belief becomes an automatic habit of interpretation and results in deepening the feeling reaction or pattern.)


  1. Identify how holding on to an old interpretation that is not actually true but just a feeling or interpretation, would habitually cause one to languish or become stagnant. (In determining the ‘truth’ of a belief, one must put his or her perception aside and check out the facts, such as what a number of others say is true. For example, after finishing a training event I would often think my presentation or facilitation skills were just ‘not good enough’ — my pattern — until I finally accepted the ‘truth’ as the evals tended to come back 4.5 out of 5.)


  1. Thoroughly experience feelings of fear, disappointment, or whatever, and how to use breath work and mindfulness to invite and fully embrace the negativity in order to release it. (When fully felt and thoroughly experienced, the belief just fades away or dissipates on its own . . . and the resulting experience is greater freedom and ‘inner space’.)


  1. Create an inspiring new story, belief, or vision as a basis for moving on and manifesting a new or different reality.


The bad news is that a one-time process is not (nearly) enough. The good news is that we get to practice this method whenever those curve balls come to the plate until we experience them enough to see them coming. It’s this level of mastering the curve that enables us to throw in a little mindfulness of our own, as we watch and feel what’s happening without a fearful reaction, so that we can hit the ball out of the park!


While I typically I call on my five-step coaching method in working with clients, more recently I have become quite impressed with the Sedona Method taught by Hale Dwoskin. While I still rely on the ‘feel, embrace, release, and re-vison method,’ Hale’s technique and process seems to more quickly allow the ‘story’ about what seemed real to disappear, as fog that suddenly lifts and the sun appears. And yet “welcoming the feeing” is also an important part of Hale’s process in helping the client let go and freely choose.


Whatever method best works for the client, the constant in any of these (including those that are meant to address change at the subconscious level — such as Psych K, hypnosis, etc.), is the individual’s readiness and willingness to change. So if my clients aren’t ready to embrace change, I can’t really do much to help bring that about. Sometimes it is just necessary for them to get to the bottom of the barrel until they tell themselves, “enough already”, and muster up enough courage to feel and experience their negativity in order to let it go and move on.

About Jim

Jim’s innovative and influential style of coaching and facilitation stems from over 15 years of Management experience in Human Resource and Organization Development. He has written two books, and has coached others in the area of Personal Development for the past 20 years.