You're stronger than you might think

Published on Wednesday, 29 January 2014 22:29 - Written by Joyce Buford, Guest Columnist

Catastrophic events such as 9/11 and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina can knock us to our knees. But experiencing our own personal hardships can pack an equally powerful punch.

We deal with job loss, divorce, death of a loved one, aging parents, empty nest, illness, and the list goes on. Often these events seem to come out of nowhere and feel completely unmanageable as we struggle to regain our footing.

We will be forced to create a new “normal” life. But, like great trees, humans can grow stronger when exposed to powerful winds. That is easy to say, we might think, as we recall those who did not grow stronger but instead broke in the wind.

How do we increase our inner strength and flexibility so that we not only survive the adversity but thrive?

Today I want to offer some strategies to prepare you to face that “storm” with confidence.

Keep them handy and they will serve you well:

Take responsibility.

Each of us is responsible for the life we lead. Take a moment to look at your role in the each situation.

Was the event, in fact, predictable? You may have had more control over the situation than you realized.

But let’s not be the “scapegoat.”

Just as you are responsible for your life, so is each person. If your daughter develops a brain tumor, it’s not because you did something wrong. Be honest, but don’t point fingers, not even at yourself.

Be optimistic and think creatively.

Once a difficult thing happens, give yourself time to regain your balance.

I suggest three days to put your brain on pause so you can think clearly, creatively and optimistically about your solutions.

Trust that there’s a solution to every problem and let your mind soar.

Approach the problem from new and different directions.

For example: Rather than losing your home, you could find a housemate whose rent would make the difference between paying the mortgage or not.

Have courage and speak up.

Courage is taking action despite the fear you feel. Fear is part of all of us. And, it is moving through that fear, we can find the courage to speak.


If someone isn’t taking you seriously, speak up. Be your own advocate. Tell that person what you want and need. Don’t assume he or she “should know.”

Take the long view.

Remembering the collective skills we have developed over our lives gives us our tools and courage to face many problems. Recount these times when you have overcome challenges. How did you do it? Who or what helped you? How can you use those skills in this situation?

Maintain a sense of humor.

There’s truth in the adage: “Laughter is the best medicine.” Even in the darkest of times, laughter can help ease the pain. I have heard of laughter being part of a recovery program for dis-ease. (That is not a misprint: Dis-ease is what happens to our body when we are out of balance.)

Ask for support.

No one can handle everything alone. When you get that overwhelmed feeling — or even before — reach out.

Ask for help from friend or professional. Asking for help is not a sign of lack in you, but a sign that you are human and need a helping hand. I truly believe we are not meant to walk this life without human and spiritual support. You’ll be amazed by how much better you feel.

Don’t quit.

Persistence might be the greatest human quality that helps us overcome adversity.

Draw inspiration from the great heroes of the world — Nelson Mandela, Harriet Tubman, Mahatma Gandhi — people who persisted despite the unbelievable odds.

Remember: you’re stronger and more resilient than you think.

Joyce Buford is a transitional coach in Tyler and founder and CEO of SecondWind Speaking, Training, and Coaching.