As you know, I try to send out one of my favorite quotes each week to those 6,000+ people on my mailing list, as well as all of my followers on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn. This week I focused on the concept of resilience, which I’m sure most of us would say we want, but may not know exactly how to bring this quality to our lives.
In looking for a quote to go with my short video posted on YouTube and other social media outlets, I was inspired by this one from Elizabeth Edwards, “She stood in the storm and when the wind did not blow her way, she adjusted her sails.” I love this because it speaks to the idea of not simply surviving storms (or the negative things that we experience) but how to use them in the service of creating the life we want.
Of course, for those you who follow my “Life from the Top of the Mind” philosophy, you know that this ability to create the life we want, despite what is going on around us, requires that we learn to influence how our brain processes information. In other words, when our middle brain (the limbic system) sees life as a series of storms that beat us down and wear us out, it tends to interpret difficult people and situations as threatening. This then engages the lower 20% of the brain, and we find ourselves feeling resentful, anxious, depressed, confused, etc., which in turn makes the original “storm” seem worse and we become trapped in a cycle of fear and reactivity.
What I teach people and organizations to do is to have more influence in this process of interpretation so that we respond to life’s challenges in ways that are purposeful, effective, and in ways we would recommend to those we love.
Now, to be clear, this isn’t just about positive thinking…chanting “don’t worry be happy,” or pretending that nothing is wrong. It’s about choosing awareness over worry, and then deciding what quality or characteristic we want to bring to the process of dealing with the situation… courage, patience, optimism, resilience?
The key here is that we are deciding who we are from the purposeful, powerful part of the brain (the neocortex, or what I call the “Top of the Mind”) versus allowing our unconscious limbic system to react out of fear or confusion. This has us using life (versus life using us) and gives meaning to the “storms” in a way that moves us from simply surviving to thriving. Or, to frame this into the words of this week’s quote, we adjust our sails and use the prevailing winds to get where we want to go.
The question, therefore, is how resilient do you want to be as you go forward, and would you like to learn how to train your brain to deal with life versus life dealing with you? If so, I encourage you to contact me. Helping people and organizations become more purposeful and influential in their lives is what I love to do, and I would be honored to help you in this process as well.
Here’s to you becoming the captain of your ship, and harnessing the wind to achieve your goals and dreams.
~ All the best, Dr. Bill