By: Jackie White
She hung up the phone and just knew something wasn’t right. She had been calling and calling all night long and he wasn’t answering. He did mention he ran into a woman from work on the business trip and she began to wonder if they weren’t together…
Her intuition was right. He was cheating. They had been together for 7 years and were engaged to be married in just 2 short months. She was devastated and couldn’t believe her life was crumbling around her. She was completely blindsided by this. She began to tick down the list of what this new reality meant. He was her best friend and her husband to be and he was gone just like that, as if he had died, but only worse, because he was still here, just not with her. In an instant, her mind had to shift from being a couple in a trusting relationship to self-preservation. How would she keep her house and pay the mortgage by herself? He took the car and she was left without any transportation and to top everything off, she had just been laid off from her job. The situation was gut-wrenchingly depressing and at the very least, not fair.
She wanted to crumble and hide, but because she had always viewed herself as a strong woman, the notion of falling to pieces was not going to happen. Instead she began to work through the pain and then she decided she would rise.
That is what you call resilience. Resilience is defined as the ability to cope with whatever life throws at you. How do some people rise in the face of adversity and some completely collapse? According to Brene’ Brown in her book, “Rising Strong”, the answer is “tolerance for discomfort”. What this means is that when something bad happens you must get in touch with your emotions and work through them. Avoiding and withdrawing are not ways to rise up. Brown has three phases of rising that detail how you get through difficult times.
The Phases of Rising Strong
1.The Reckoning: When life falls apart, you must first accept the emotions and acknowledge that you are in this. Your next step is critical. You must decide if you will rise or not. Brene’ Brown states that “Hurt happens to everyone and the only decision we have is to write the story or hand the power over to someone else”. This is where the rubber meets the road. To rise you must notice your feelings and get curious about emotions behind feelings. Your body may physically want to shut down to protect you. You must be aware of how you are thinking and feeling and know that your thoughts, actions and feelings must be addressed. You cannot deny and disengage because you will not rise. Disengagement is not resilience, it’s resistance.
2. The Rumble: When you find yourself deep in the falling down, you can feel powerless, but it is what you are telling yourself and others about the pain you are in that makes a difference. Sometimes the stories we tell aren’t necessarily the truth and/or serving us. For example: If your partner cheats and your story becomes that it was about what you did wrong and that you didn’t deserve him/her, then the story hasn’t been thought through enough. Some people get stuck on the initial emotional response to pain and they spiral down into the warped story they have concocted. It’s imperative to take time to think through the events with more perspective and logic rather than emotion. This will be difficult at first, but you must keep working through it.
3.The Revolution: We are talking big change here. The rising strong process can lead to transformation in yourself. It might show up in small baby steps but ultimately you will be in a new place on the other side of the pain. This is when we begin to practice the new true story we are living. Because fear and doubt can begin to creep back in and we must manage those emotions appropriately and swiftly if we are going to continue to rise and be resilient.
Her revolution began when she chose to close the last chapter and begin a new one. On the day she was to be married, she chose to change the story. She decided, he wouldn’t have any power over her anymore. She sent invitations out to the wedding guests to attend her “anti-wedding” party. She took the day she was dreading and turned it into a day of strength and resilience. She went all out and put her energy into making the evening a fun night for all. She had a lopsided garishly decorated wedding cake with a plastic bride holding a shotgun to the groom figure on the top of the cake. She wore a plastic groom around her neck hanging by a noose and she wore a hat that said, “Attitude is Everything”. She faced the embarrassing situation with humor and strength. She got through it. Was it the absolute worst thing that had ever happened to her? Yes, it was but, she walked through the emotions and re-wrote the script. She decided that in order to really live the life she was meant to live, sometimes, it’s necessary to walk through some pain.
Today that woman looks back and is proud of herself for how she handled so much pain with grace and strength. She knows now that she is far stronger than she ever thought she was. She is brave and resilient.
Life isn't always a bed of roses. We will all face adversity, grief, failure and pain, but it is how we respond to it that will make a difference. The decisions made in the hour of our pain can affect the trajectory of our life. So, choose carefully. Choose wisely and you will make through to the other side stronger than you ever thought you would be.
So, when life starts to suck, you need to know and believe that inside of you there is crazy strength. There is also bravery and courage and wisdom to make the tough choices that will ultimately allow you to rise up and be resilient. The fact is, you are grown enough to stand up for yourself. It’s your choice on how you want your story to go. And as for that woman who survived and thrived through her break-up, she would tell you to not waste another minute and to bravely step forward and reclaim your life! How do I know this? Because, that woman is me.
Erika Fehrenbach Prell is passionate about inspiring and educating, others on their path to complete wellness-mind,body, and soul. This desire led Erika to the helping profession of nursing, and she obtained her Master's Degree as a Nurse Practitioner in 2007. Erika specialized in cardiac surgery, largely influenced by her personal experience with heart disease. While she loved working with this population, her heart's desire has always been to impact lives on a larger scale and from a proactive, not reactive, place. The universe answered when her path crossed with Jackie and SoulShine was born. Erika finally feels she is walking in her purpose and is excited for this journey to unfold.