PTSD Professional Perspective: 9 Ways to Become More Resilient
Sunday, August 16th, 2009 • PTSD Guest Post: Professional Perspective •
Developing Resiliency Factors to Assist Healing
By Michael Ballard, President of ResiliencyForLife.com
The focus of my work is give those facing larger than life challenges an understanding of the process and then key skills on how to deepen their ability to take on life’s biggest issues and come out with great peace of mind and more healing.
It is based in part on what I learned during several recoveries from two bouts of cancer, several series of treatments, an emergency life saving surgery, a head injury that caused a concussion, and the PTSD issues created from being robbed by a motorcycle gang.
I quickly found that if I used a positive asset approach and created a positive environment it assisted me in stabilizi g myself. Then to maximize the healing journey I searched out all I could find on dealing with adversity.
First, for most people there are two basic ways we respond. The first and least natural for many is to stretch outside our comfort zones and start looking for solutions. Or, we can shrink and deal with it by not dealing with it. We all shrink away from big issues for a few minutes, hours or days. However, maximizing success takes care not to live in this state. What overall direction are you headed in? What steps are you taking and what skills are you practicing? Use care to not let your serious issues like PTSD define you. Do you own the issue or does the issue own you?
Second, when was the last time you had a complete check up? Have you gained awareness of where you’re at? What are the issues and what courses of conventional treatment(s) are suggested? Set goals and then break them down into set small objectives that help you reach your goals.
Third, explore the value then practice once or twice a day at least one if not two life affirming brain and body developing skills. For example, mindfulness, meditative walking, and relaxation response skills. When practiced regularly they can play a powerful role in helping to assist heal our brain injuries.
Fourth, to be resilient means we work at stretching our selves. There are many categories outside of our comfort zones. Focus on growing your mastery of several skills. What course of skills are you looking to acquire and practice? Research shows that adults who practice skills start to deepen and develop their cognitive skills in very powerful and positive ways.
Fifth, deepening your resiliency means you have to get on the path of mastery. Mastery is both a process and a belief system. A belief that with practice, focus and patience we can all do better. A process that includes becoming a life long learner and staying open to learning from a variety of sources.
Sixth, do a respectful and very honest assessment of where you. Feeling stuck, angry, frustrated and moving backward or sidewise is not nice but normal on occasion. Every so often check to see how you’re feeling and then figure out what resources are available should you feel yourself slipping. What are your next positive sets of steps? Have you gotten or dusted off your library card? What resources are waiting there for you to discover? Plus have you investigated sites like iTunes yet? There is a wealth or programming starting to show up there. Some for free, some for fee.
Seventh, build a team. Go wide. Go deep. Family, friends, co-workers, social connections, community workers, associations, medical, mental health and supplemental care professionals and volunteers.
Eighth, at times we have to act in a counter intuitive way. Yes, the path of mastery is all about practice, practice, and more practice – that’s what developing resiliency is mostly about. All the skills I mention on the Resiliency for Life webpage have helped hundreds of thousands of people. Yet on occasion the best thing we can do for ourselves is to break routine. Take an unexpected change in behaviour. For a few minutes, a few hours or even a few days. Taking time to be calm or just to change routine can help us reflect.
Ninth, learn to enjoy the journey. The incredible stop, start and very annoying backwards, upside down and plateau stop we all have during recovery can be disturbing. Don’t allow the set backs or plateaus to make you bitter. Make friends with them. Learn from them. It’s far too easy to beat up on yourself and those around you when you’re in recovery mode. Honesty on how you’re doing and what progress you have or have not made is good. But dwelling and worry is a waste of time and vital energy. So is acting out. Ask for help. Take the help. Find ways to have fun. I watched quite a few very funny and silly movies and comedy shows. Robin Williams and Flip Wilson are two of my laughter heroes. While watching one of Robin’s comedy routines, I laughed so hard it hurt to breath for at least a week. But, oh, did I enjoy that ache. I felt so positively alive.
Two last thoughts. It takes 21 days of practice for an average person to start seeing results developing new mental skills through practice. For those of us that have a brain injury it can take more than 200 practice sessions according to one expert. So patience; practice and focus are key.
Let me leave you with a very powerful example. I was approached by a Foster Parent three years ago about a young child who’d been seriously abused for what the police and care professionals felt was well over 18 months of physical, sexual and emotional abuse. The child had very very serious behaviour issues. Worst in the history of that Children’s Aid Society. The experts felt this child was “permanently and seriously damaged.” At best they’d try to figure out how to proceed with a managed care plan to keep the child safe and the caregivers safe from the child.
We agreed to take the Foster Parent on as a coaching client. She then used our process, key skills and four audio programs with this then three year old. Less than two years later the child’s behaviour patterns including sleep and play where considered above average.
Since then the child has been successfully adopted. What happened? In a nutshell the child listened to our two hours of programming up to a total of six hours a day. The Foster Parent told us the child quickly realized it was helping to achieve some peace of mind. In lay terms we were helping start to tame, heal and retrain the brain. We advocate and use very gentle exercises to build calmness and focus through mindfulness and relaxation responses skills. We always advocate keeping your medical and mental health professional in the loop. Many however are unaware of the positive benefits of these other skills.
I wish you and yours more inner peace and healing on you journey ahead.
About Michael Ballard and Resiliency for Life: Michael and his programs help people deepen their ability to handle life’s ups and downs and overwhelming adversities. He has worked from Bermuda to Singapore, and Halifax to San Francisco at conferences, with support groups, business, government, health care, and associations.
To contact Michael to speak at your next event or conference: Inquiry@ResiliencyForLife.com or 416-229-4655
www.ResiliencyForLife.com. For Online or telephone coaching contact him at: Coaching@ResiliencyForLife.com