Defining Resilience Series: Step 4 – Take Action Steps to Create Positive Change

Defining Resilience


Step 4: Take Action Steps to Create Positive Change

Before diving into step 4, a reminder about resilience: it is defined as the ability to overcome adverse conditions; with healthy bonding relationships, guidance, support, and compassion as the catalysts. Basically, it entails having the capacity to bounce back from stressful or overwhelming experiences.

What are some steps we can take to ensure we are building resilience in our lives?

  1. Focus on the positives. 
  2. Seek out and nurture supportive relationships.
  3. Utilize self-care strategies. 
  4. Take action steps to create positive change.
  5. Work on healthy habit formation. 
  6. Find a guiding hand to hold.
  7. Learn to become our own hero. 
  8. Be gentle with ourselves.

Today we will cover Step 4: Take action steps to create positive change.

In order to overcome the panic attack and anxiety symptoms I had been experiencing for over twenty-five years, I had to make some serious changes in my mindset. I also had to be willing to change my habits, instill healthy boundaries, build my support system, and welcome challenges. These days I pat myself on the back for investing time and energy into ME and creating a life filled with tranquility even in the midst of storms.

Here are ten action steps you can implement in your life in order to create positive change:

  • Be honest with yourself: Take a good look at your life in order to determine where you really want to make some positive changes. Make a pros and cons list, journal it out, or talk it over with a friend. Do you want a more spiritual existence? Then what can you do to change that? Do you want to feel more fit and healthy? What are some realistic options to make that happen? And so on. Being real with what you want will give you a clear goal.
  • Welcome challenges as opportunities for growth: If you approach your action steps with a “bring it” attitude, you will take the negative power out of any challenges which might arise. Remind yourself that you might stumble. And that’s okay. Look at mistakes or setbacks as opportunities for growth. I recently visited the gulf coast in Florida and allowed my fears to overwhelm me on a beach visit. I closed in on myself and held a pity party. However, within a few hours, I gave myself a pep talk and headed back out to the shore. I conquered my phobias and enjoyed a moment in the “now” as I played with my family in the surf.
  • Small steps add up: You do not have to accomplish your goal all at once or have it completed in day one. If you are wanting to be more active, turn off your television or phone or video games for an hour. Then go move. Walk in the park, hop on your bike, turn on music and dance around your kitchen while you cook. No need to toss the television out the window . . . yet! Start making new habits one little step at a time. What will your first small step be?
  • Treat others as you would like to be treated: That whole golden rule thing. It really does help bring positivity into your life. Try smiling at others and take note of their responses. Sure, you might run into a few folks who are having a bad day (or life) and ignore your gesture, but that’s cool. Send them a little private wish for positivity in their lives then move on to the next person for a smile exchange. Try doing favors for others without expecting a favor in return. Maybe join a volunteer organization to give back to your community. As you nurture kindness, that will radiate into all aspects of your life. Keep track of how many people returned your smile today . . . you might be surprised!
  • Remove/reduce negativity: I really could live without a television. I rarely have it on. And, wow, is my life more fulfilling now that I keep it from infiltrating my peaceful space. I also listen to meditative music. I avoid violent, disrespectful, and negative song lyrics. I have put limitations in place regarding toxic people in my life . . . those energy vampires I have mentioned before. I do not remove them completely as I hope maybe some day my glitter-shitter attitude will rub off on them, but I do walk away if I start to feel overwhelmed by their negativity. It’s a gift I give myself. Is there anyone in your life needing a boundary adjustment so as to minimize their pull on your positive energy?
  • Practice self-care: A powerful tool for creating positive changes in your life is self-care. Using positive affirmations, utilizing healthy eating choices, engaging in activities that promote laughter and smiling, allowing yourself permission to rest or do “no-thing”, and finding a hobby are all examples of self-care. Choose one self-care practice to start today!
  • Eliminate unhealthy/unsafe choices: One of the best decisions I ever made for myself was quitting smoking. I breathe better, feel better, smell better, and live better. Recognizing my stress eating and carb addiction helped me make the choice to treat my body better, fueling it with healthier options. What unhealthy choices have you been wanting to eliminate? What’s stopping you from cutting it from your life?
  • Build a supportive social network: Whether you join an online group, engage in a volunteer organization, or reach out to someone new, make sure you surround yourself with others who lift your spirits and promote positive actions. Avoid the gossip groups and bitch-session gatherings. It’s okay to vent now and then, just don’t dwell there. Do you have a circle of support? If not, envision it. Then take those small steps to make it happen.
  • Challenge yourself: Believe in you! And show it by challenging yourself to accomplish something you have long wanted to do. Have you been wanting to go back to school and finish up a degree? Are you an artist looking for an audience . . . then create an online store or sign up for a craft show booth. Again, believe in you!
  • Dive deep: It can be scary going back into the dark spaces of your heart and soul. At the same time, it can be liberating. If you need to hold a hand (friend, therapist, religious leader, or coach), by all means, do so. You will find you are so much stronger than you may have thought possible. I certainly believe in you. By diving deep and revisiting those dark spaces, you will empower yourself with each triumph of merely returning to peek in. My hope for you, for all of us, is that we will eventually be able to shine our light so brightly, there is no more darkness.
Coming up next month: Step 5: Work on healthy habit formation.

Angel Whispers and Neon Signs

Photo by Dalal Nizam on Unsplash

I am one of those folks who pay attention to the subtle whispers of my angels. I used to tell God, “Listen, Big Guy, I need some neon signs sent my way. Big flashing arrows pointing me in the right direction, if you don’t mind. Thanks!”

It’s taken years of practice, silencing the hum of my own insecurities and quieting my own directives, but I now notice the gentle taps on the shoulder, “Hey, T, look,” turning my head to notice the heart-shaped leaf on the ground.

Ah, thanks, God.

I’ve come to realize those sweet little nudges ARE the neon God-signs I had been asking for all along.

Lady bugs crawling on my manuscript, sunbeams radiating onto a crappy day, little kid giggles interrupting my mental chanting of shopping list items, unicorn fart coffee mug gifts from a friend “just because”, cardinal songs outside my window as my dad’s memory flutters through the room. Angel whispers filling my days.

As I sent up a little prayer this morning, feeling a bit melancholy over an old loss, I received a beautiful text: “I truly think you are an amazingly beautiful person.” Tears welled in my eyes, the timing of that message impeccable, as the sunlight beaming into the room caught my attention.

I turned to see the beams radiating through the glass sign I have perched on the window sill, the words “be brave” illuminated in a joyous reminder.

photo credit Teri Wellbrock

I’ve been looking for inspiration for this latest blog. Waiting to be prodded by some spirit-movings. I’d say this qualifies.

5 Ways to Awaken Your Awareness of Angel Whispers and God Signs

  • Look for hearts.

 I find them everywhere. Every day. I just walked downstairs to let the dogs back inside and laughed as I found a chewed remnant of a dog toy . . . in the shape of a neon orange heart on the stairs. Love is all around us. All we need to do is open our hearts (and our eyes) to notice. I will be posting a free downloadable e-book on my website some time in the next few weeks. It will be filled with heart pics I’ve snapped along with quotes and stories about love. Be sure to download it on my Teri Wellbrock website once it’s available. Until then, there is other free downloadable content available as a resource.

  • Meditate. 

I started out using a simple 2-5 minute meditation I had found on a phone app. Learning to meditate in short intervals was a much needed boost of confidence that I could actually do it.  I had always struggled with any attempts to meditate. My mind would wander repeatedly and I’d throw in the towel about thirty seconds in. Several different apps I found actually encouraged letting my mind wander, so I could practice utilizing my breath to reign it back in. I have created a few simplistic meditation videos. You can practice by listening in on my website or directly on YouTube.

I eventually worked my way up to 30-minute meditations, using apps and various YouTube guided meditation videos. I now make meditating a part of my daily routine. It has opened up my senses to everything beautiful. Including those angel messages.

Photo by Dingzeyu Li on Unsplash
  • Practice mindfulness.

This is a favorite technique that I will talk about often. Mindfulness is defined as “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.”

It is a gift to yourself. Being aware of the space you fill in this present moment and all that surrounds you in the now can be more difficult than it sounds . . . hence the need for practice. I like to hike at Cincinnati Nature Center, reminding myself to absorb the sensations of the moment (the sounds of scurrying chipmunks, the sweet scent of honeysuckle blossoms, the tickle of the sweat bee landing on my arm). Those moments, after all, are filled with angel whispers.

Photo by Lina Trochez on Unsplash
  • Welcome balance.

Another concept I struggled with throughout most of my life was that of allowing myself the gift of relaxation, “me” time, without the weight of guilt sitting heavily upon my shoulders. I would try to kick back, but my to-do list would nag at me. All of the “shoulds” poking at me. You should be writing. You should be cleaning. You should be studying. 

Once I realized the benefits of giving myself permission to relax, unwind, let go, and enjoy the moment, I quickly learned to put those to-do list bullies in their place. Now I remind myself that my angel gifts come to me in those letting-go moments. They appear within the pauses.

photo credit Teri Wellbrock
  • Be gentle with yourself.

A huge lesson learned. This was one of those Ah-ha! moments in my life. A true awaking. On so many levels. I can honestly say that learning how to accomplish this seemingly simple mindset was life-altering.

When you find yourself being self-ridiculing or slamming yourself over a mistake, stop. When you find yourself doubting your abilities, stop. When you start to question your worth, stop. When you pick on your weight or your wrinkles or your knack of crying at all things sappy, stop.

Instead . . . be gentle with yourself. Remind yourself you are trying. And you are worthy. And loved. And beautiful. Give yourself a hug. Be your own best friend. Hold your own hand. That’s when you’ll hear the angel whisper, “I believe in you.”

Photo credit Teri Wellbrock

 

 

 

 

Where Can I Find Some Skin-Thickening Cream?

I was sitting here in my writing space, contemplating ideas for today’s blog post, when a friend commented on an article I shared in my Unicorn Shadows Book Launch Group on Facebook. The article I shared was You Can’t Be Trauma-Informed If You Can’t See the Trauma – a fantastic reminder to keep in mind that we have not traveled another person’s journey, therefore, wearing a trauma-informed lens will help us to see beyond the after-math of trauma and, at the same time, avoid our own triggering. This beautiful friend shared:

“It’s so hard!! From my trauma I tend to take everything personally!! Yikes!! I need some skin thickening cream!! If you have anything helpful for that, let me know!! Thanks!!”

That was my blog post inspiration: a how-to on “thickening one’s skin” to being triggered in our own trauma history. I used to find myself responding to other’s without understanding the underlying currents flowing beneath my gut reactions. One of the first memories that comes to mind relates to my interactions with the director of a preschool where I taught many years ago.

I had been doing the stay-at-home-mom thing for years, but was asked if I would be willing to teach part-time at the preschool where my then two-year-old daughter was attending. I adore kids and their amazing logic, sponge-brains always absorbing, and their knack for teaching us grown-ups about unconditional love. So I climbed on board the preschool wagon. A year in, this new director was brought on board . . . the one I allowed to push my buttons.

The day I walked into my classroom to find it completely rearranged, with new labels in place on some of my stations (i.e. sensory table, science area, reading corner), my head went kaboom! I stomped into her office and stated my case, accusing her of disrespecting my role as a teacher and violating my space and all I had accomplished in setting it up exactly as I had envisioned. There was an apology (of sorts) and we ended up coming to an agreement of terms on how we would handle any future changes she deemed necessary in the classroom. Fair enough.

In hindsight, I look back and realize how my response had little to do with the changes she made – they actually made sense and were beneficial for the children – and everything to do with the remnants of the trauma history of my youth. Walking into that classroom left me feeling as if I had no control, no voice, a loss of power within the confines of my space, and fearing retaliation if I would speak up.

What can we do if we find ourselves easily triggered by the actions or words of others?

  1.  Pause. Stop. Take a breath. Step back. 

All of those little tidbits of advice we hear often when we find ourselves stressing out. They work. If we stop for just a moment to notice the reaction we are experiencing, we can allow ourselves the opportunity to “be gentle” with ourselves and “just notice”. When I stand in front of audiences and share my Story of Hope,  I emphasize these two points.

Learning to be gentle with myself was a huge catalyst for healing. I learned to simply allow the feelings to be, without judging them, without trying to correct or guide them. I just let whatever was surfacing to flow through me. Then I would allow it to dissipate. Again, without judgment. The concept of “just noticing” is a part of this process. I allow myself the opportunity to experience whatever is rising to the surface within me by merely noticing it, observing it.

2. Remind ourselves we have not traveled another’s journey.

When I learned the concept of forgiveness on a soul level, it allowed me the opportunity to look at my transgressor’s lives from outside my own wounds. I reminded myself that I had not traveled their road. While I was not justifying their actions in any way, I was gifting myself freedom by releasing their negative impact on my current life. I allowed them their journey and, in so doing, continued along my own without them tagging along.

Perhaps my transgressors had been abused, neglected, hurt in profound ways, or traumatized. Their actions toward me or my indirect involvement in their actions really had little to do with me.

3. Send positivity toward others.

Once we have paused, then reminded ourselves we do not know another’s driving force for their negative behaviors, we can turn around our normally automated defensive reaction and instead send some positive energy toward that person/situation. That can be a quick prayer, a wish for the individual to find a moment of peace,  a sincere smile followed by silence, a purposeful sending of love from our heart toward the offender’s, whatever way feels as if you are sending positive energy.

By allowing this affirmative energy to flow from us, from a heart and soul place in lieu of an ego perspective, we empower ourselves in the process while providing much-needed goodness toward others.

4. Journal about the moment. 

When all is said and done, record it in some way. Journal, make a video blog, voice record it, again, document it in whatever way you find helpful. The point is to allow yourself to release your encounter without judgment. Set it free, perhaps noticing what triggers arose in you initially.

Remember to be gentle with yourself and merely notice what is surfacing as you record it. I also recommend writing without editing. A free-flow release can sometimes bring to light a long-sought-after answer.

Keep me posted on your progress! I love hearing stories of positivity, inspiration, and motivation. You are worthy of peace and joy. This is one way to empower yourself with those gifts.