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Cultivating Resilience Practice 3: Strengths

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Editor’s Note: Bold Blind Beauty is thrilled to share with you snippets from Becky Andrews’ new book “Cultivating our Resilience Workbook/Journal.” Adversity strengthens and builds resilience; Becky will share weekly practices to help us become more resilient. ~Steph

Practice Three:  Utilizing YOUR Strengths in your resilience.  Being authentically you.  

Checking in as we share practice three of cultivating your resilience. I hope you are giving yourself permission to feel (practice one.) Then, practice two to offer ourselves self-compassion and nurturing through our challenges. We could spend so much time sharing further about these two practices. However, for the sake of space, we will go on. (If you want, join me for our course — to learn more!  Details below.)   

We will introduce our third practice today. This practice is about being authentic to you and your strengths. It is about utilizing the strengths that YOU possess in your resilient plan. We all have strengths that can help us navigate the challenging times. Strength focus affirms our potential and it resonates with our authentic self. Sometimes when we are in the midst of that difficult time we may not recognize these strengths. They are there and unique to us. Take a pause and reflect on your Character Strengths. 

The 24 character strengths are: 

Appreciation of Beauty, Spirituality, Gratitude, Hope, Forgiveness, Humility, Prudence, Self-regulation, Citizenship, Fairness, Leadership, Love, Kindness, Social Intelligence, Bravery, Persistence, Integrity, Vitality, Creativity, Curiosity, Open-mindedness, Love of Learning, Perspective, and Humor. 

You may recognize your top strengths from this list and how they have helped you in a time of challenge. There is an excellent, free test: the VIA Character Strengths to understand what your strengths are:  www.viacharacter.org. After taking this test, your Signature Strengths (your top five) will be identified. Dr. Ryan Niemiec explains in his book: The Strengths-Based Workbook for Stress Relief, “Character strengths are the positive parts of your personality that define who you are and help you reach positive outcomes. They make up what is best in you — when you are at your best, your character strengths are right there helping you along the way. When you are suffering – overcome by stress, facing difficult emotions, or lost in an argument – your character strengths can be unleashed.”  

So, let’s take a short break while you go take the free character strength test: www.viacharacter.org (The website has amazing resources and information at a later time you can peruse if you like.) 

Welcome back :)! 

Now, to explain further. Your top five strengths are your signature strengths. These are the strengths that are the most energizing and easiest for you to use. They are the ones we can rely on to help us cultivate our resilience. Dr. Niemiec indicates these are most likely to involve the three E’s  Essential, Energizing, and Effortless.   

“Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is
not enough, we must do.” 

~Goethe

We can know our strengths, we can understand our strengths and then the real benefits come when we put our strengths to use and utilize them in our resilience plan.  

So, this week choose one of our signature strengths and use it in a new novel way, no matter how small each day.  

Some examples may be – someone shared that one of their Signature Strengths is the appreciation of beauty. So, working from home at this time, she created her workspace as a place of beauty. This increased her resilience at this time and was effortless, energizing, and essential for her. Another example may be if someone’s top strength is the love of learning. This again will fuel them during a challenging time to increase their learning. A client chose to take an online course during this time of increased time of isolation to connect with others and also give himself an opportunity to use that strength of learning. Another client used her top strengths as affirmations for her. “I am grateful. I am a leader. I am kind. I am love. I am fair.” Our signature strengths resonate with us and are grounding even in challenging times.  

There is so much we can do with our strengths. They are within us. They are our guiding force to utilize in challenging times. Remember they are what is energizing, essential, and effortless for us.  

  • Strength spotting. Take a moment to pause and think of your strengths and spot them in you. Notice how you are using them and acknowledge specifically in journaling or sharing with someone you trust. 
  • Strength priming. In preparing for a challenging time – reflect on one of your strengths you can bring into that moment. For example, preparing for that presentation. If gratitude is one of your top strengths, you may find it helpful to prime with the character strength of gratitude and acknowledge to yourself for a moment the sense of gratitude for being there able to deliver this presentation.  
  • Tend to the end. Each evening take note of what went well in the day. Be specific as you reflect on the good things that came about in the day. Then, ask yourself what part you played in that good thing happening and what strength you utilized in this process.  
  • A meditation to help. Pause. Take in a deep breath. I am (fill in with a signature strength). Breathe out visualizing how this character strength will help you in this day.

Cultivate Your Resilience Telehealth Course Info:

Cultivate your resilience, telehealth course, 6 sessions – every other week, beginning Tuesday, June 9th at 6 PM MST, $25 for full course; Group facilitated by Becky Andrews, LCMHC.  Email Becky at becky.lpc@gmail.com to join us. Group limited to 10.  

Summary

As always, our first concern at Bold Blind Beauty during this global pandemic is the safety of all. Leave us a comment with your strengths and how you utilized them this week.  

About The Author:

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Becky Andrews

Becky Andrews is a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor, Small Business Owner – Resilient Solutions, Inc, and founder of the Daring to Own Your Story ™ Retreats. She is also the author of Look up, move forward – her memoir of Losing her eyesight and finding her vision.  

You can follow her at:

Workbook: 

Cultivating our Resilience Workbook/Journal will be out Fall 2020. Email Becky at becky.lpc@gmail.com to be on the waiting list or preorder.

Image Descriptions:

  • Header: Multicolored, multi-fonts, word cloud image from http://www.viacharacter.org consists of all the character strengths identified in this post.
  • Becky is sitting on outdoor steps next to her guide dog, Georgie, a gorgeous yellow lab. 
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Cultivating Resilience Practice 2: Self-Compassion

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Editor’s Note:

Bold Blind Beauty is thrilled to share with you snippets from Becky Andrews’ new book “Cultivating our Resilience Workbook/Journal.” Adversity strengthens and builds resilience; Becky will share weekly practices to help us become more resilient. ~Steph

Practice Two:  Self Compassion 

As we start week two of cultivating our resilience, let’s check in from last week. How was the experience of giving yourself permission to feel? Letting ourselves feel is an act of strength, courage, and authenticity.  Noticing, Naming, and Accepting our Feelings is Practice One.  

Now, take a pause. With these feelings, how are you talking to yourself? Is what you are saying to yourself helpful or hurtful? If you are beating up on yourself, this is hurtful and takes our pain/challenges to suffering. Notice your thoughts. If it is helpful and compassionate to yourself, you are practicing self-compassion our second practice in cultivating our resilience.  

What is self-compassion? 

It is bearing witness to your own pain and suffering and responding with love and kindness as you would to a friend.

~Kristen Neff

If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete. 

~Jack Kornfield

May there be kindness in your gaze when you look within. 

~John O Donahue

Self-compassion could be offering a compassionate phrase to yourself when you are hurting. It can be a soothing touch and acknowledging your pain. Combining these two might look like: recognizing the hurt then acknowledging it with a touch, perhaps your hand to your heart, and a phrase: Oh that hurts – may I feel comfort at this time. 

This week take some time to notice how you are talking to yourself. Practice giving yourself permission to feel and then respond with encouraging words. What’s a compassionate phrase you might use when you find yourself in a difficult situation?  Some examples: 

  • May I feel safe May I accept myself
  • May I feel at ease May I find peace 
  • May I believe in myself May I feel love
  • May I be kind to myself May I feel enough 

A soothing touch might be your hand on your heart, on your shoulder, the butterfly gesture (hands crisscrossed across your heart and tapping on your shoulders), hands clasped together, or the yoga child post can be a calming meditative pose. See what feels right to you.  

Wisdom On Self-Compassion

We live in a time when science is validating what humans have known throughout the ages; that compassion is not a luxury; it is a necessity for our well-being, resilience, and survival. 

~Joan Halifax

“Some people worry that self-compassion will close them off from other people by making them selfish and self-centered. The reverse is actually the case – the more open-hearted we are with ourselves, the closer we feel toward the rest of life. Self-compassion is the foundation for kindness toward others. When we’re more accepting of our own, we become more accepting of others.  Full acceptance of courses, moment to moment makes it easier to adapt and change in the direction we’d like to go.“  

Christopher Germer, Self Compassion, and Mindfulness

To keep a lamp burning, we have to keep putting oil in it. 

~Mother Theresa

Self-Nourishment

Nurturing Ourselves in five areas: social, spiritual, emotional, physical, and mental. What nourishes you in each of these areas? Take note and intentionally practice nurturing. For me, a nurturing practice is tandem cycling both physically and emotionally. It fills me physically to be moving my body and connecting with my husband in this way emotionally is nourishing.   This week as you cultivate resilience:

  • Practice one: Continue to give yourself permission to feel
  • Practice two:  Practice self compassion and self-care

Resources for more study on this topic:

Image is described in the body of the post.
Becky Andrews

Becky Andrews is a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor, Small Business Owner – Resilient Solutions, Inc, and founder of the Daring to Own Your Story ™ Retreats. She is also the author of Look up, move forward – her memoir of Losing her eyesight and finding her vision.  

You can follow her at:

Workbook: 

Cultivating our Resilience Workbook/Journal will be out Fall 2020. Email Becky at becky.lpc@gmail.com to be on the waiting list or preorder.

Image Descriptions:

  • Header: Two hands are shaped like a heart are framing a golden sunset.
  • Becky is sitting on outdoor steps next to her guide dog, Georgie, a gorgeous yellow lab. 
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Cultivating Resilience: Practice 1

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Editor’s Note:

Bold Blind Beauty is thrilled to share with you snippets from Becky Andrews’ new book “Cultivating our Resilience Workbook/Journal.” Adversity strengthens and builds resilience; Becky will share weekly practices to help us become more resilient. ~Steph

Cultivating Resilience

Right now, we are individually and collectively experiencing interesting times with the pandemic. Collective grief, ambiguous losses, anticipatory grief, increased uncertainty are all part of our world each in our own unique ways. It is calling each of us to cultivate our resilience as we keep moving forward and take the pauses necessary that can bring gifts. 

The human spirit is stronger than anything that can happen to it.

~CC Scott

In this series, we will talk about some practices that can help us Cultivate our Resilience.   

This is what I’m faced with right now in my life’s journey, while I’d like it to be different, I must allow myself to face the reality of what is happening. When you surrender you release attachment to how you feel your life should be and invite yourself to be in the presence of your life exactly as it is, while naturally difficult to do,
surrender is an act of courage.

~Alan Wolfelt

This quote encompasses a key foundation of resilience: to know that challenging times are part of our journey. We will all experience adversity and difficulty in this life. We are not alone. This common humanity and understanding is a foundation of resilience. It leads us to place of surrender and growth while honoring our journey.  

What Is Resilience? 

It is that capacity to reach down to our core and find hope amongst the difficult times. It is the capacity to navigate those difficult times that stretch us and in time to be transformed and grow from the experience.  

To cultivate our resilience means it is an action. It gives us hope to know that we can continue to cultivate – dig, nurture, create further resilience. The picture in the header represents resilience to me. It is a flower in the crack of the pavement. What effort it must take to find roots and nourishment to spring forward and bloom in this condition. 

  • Take a moment to reflect on a difficult time in your life. What strengths inside you got through that difficult time?
  • What is an example of a resilient person to you? What attributes do you admire about them?

Great News!

Resilience is a learned ability and we can acquire the skills at any time in our life. Resilient people are beautiful people.  

The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern.

~Elisabathe Kubler-Ross

Resilience creates courage, kindness, and wisdom. So, how do we cultivate our resilience? Similar to digging in the dirt and cultivating a garden. We cultivate by focusing in on that aspect, careful attention, devoting time, and thought to the practice. So, cultivating our resilience takes some time, effort, and patience with ourselves in the process.  

As we start this series, we are collectively experiencing a challenging time as individuals, families, communities, countries, and our world. This has impacted us all on varying levels with increased anxiety, stress, uncertainties to our health – financial stability, grief, and losses. And, most likely on top of that, you are facing additional challenges in your life.  

Take a moment and acknowledge what your specific challenge(s) are that you are experiencing right now. As Mr. Rogers says:

The mentionable is then manageable.  

~Fred Rogers

We are going to offer 8 practices in this series, that can help us cultivate our resilience as we navigate those challenging times. 

Practice One: 

Give yourself permission to feel. Find healthy ways to process your feelings. Start this week to ask yourself how am I feeling? What do I need right now? 

This is our first step in this process to honor our feelings without judgment – to notice, name the feeling, accept and then choose a possible action.

This week find a quiet space each day to record your feelings. We will return next week to check-in and share resilient practice two.  

Becky Andrews, LCMHC

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Becky Andrews

Becky is offering her Cultivate your resilience courses via zoom for $25/6 week group. She will cover all the practices in this zoom course. Email her for details on the next course: becky.lpc@gmail.com

Connecting With Becky:

Workbook: 

Cultivating our Resilience Workbook/Journal will be out Fall 2020. Email Becky at becky.lpc@gmail.com to be on the waiting list or preorder.

Image Descriptions:

  • Header: A singular bright yellow flower stands tall as it bursts through a crack in the pavement.
  • Becky is sitting on outdoor steps next to her guide dog, Georgie, a gorgeous yellow lab. 
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Flexible Yet Strong & Empowered

Flexible Yet Strong & Empowered

I am flexible yet strong in times of change.

Daily Word, July 22, 2019

‘Complicated’ is the word that used to come to mind when I would think of my relationship with my mom. Yet at 81 years of age, she has blown me away with how much insight she has into my character. Here’s a beautiful gift she gave me from the Daily Word, July 22, 2019:

There is a natural order to life that I can trust. Life has taught me that while change is inevitable, I need not worry. As I remain present to changes in my life and in the world, I strive to remain open to the flow of good. Flexibility is my strength. Like a willow tree in a windstorm, I remain grounded.

When I feel concern for myself or a loved one, I take a moment to be silent. Letting go of limiting patterns or worries about the future, I release resistance and open to divine inspiration. I realign myself so I can approach every life situation with a sense of grace and ease. From a centered state of mind, I affirm: I am flexible yet strong in times of change.

Resilience

The piece I’ve just shared is titled ‘Resilience.’ What ‘s so interesting about these words is their connection to recent events and my mom’s eerie sixth sense. Here’s a brief overview of my experience at the “Daring To Own Your Story” Women’s Retreat.

For far too long, I’ve seen the value in other people that I felt was lacking in myself. Embracing doubt, fear, anxiety, and a sense of worthlessness has long been my M.O. at the retreat, something remarkable happened. This experience would take me to the National Ability Center where I’d find strength in my vulnerability.

Becky Andrews of Resilient Solutions Inc. challenged me and nine other blind and visually impaired women to own our stories. Through our shared connection of sight loss, in four days we developed a sisterhood many people long to acquire. At the retreat, we participated in a number of group activities like archery, hiking, biking, and the challenge course.

So much has happened in my life recently it’s been hard to obtain clarity. The death of one friend, cancer diagnosis of another, then traveling out of state several times in one month has been taxing. I’ve been afraid of falling behind here at Bold Blind Beauty and CAPTIVATING! Even so, life continues in spite of these events and I’m very grateful for all the opportunities that have come my way. Receiving my mom’s message on resiliency was the icing on the cake.

Featured Image Description:

  • In this photo, I am 45 feet above the ground crossing a log suspended in mid-air. One of the course staff members guided me across by walking backward as I held her left hand.

Additional Photos:

  • A gallery of three images showing me in stages of climbing the rock wall.
  • Another gallery of three photos showing a group of us at the summit of our hike. A group photo of everyone who biked and a photo of Becky and me posing in the bike shed.