Despite the calls by both sides to draw the country together, the recent Republican and Democratic Presidential nominating conventions have each stressed partisan rhetoric, appealing to their bases. Some speeches were soaring, others angry, some fact-filled, others vague, some pointing fingers over past actions, others promising future efforts. But the one that was the most inspiring to the greatest number of Americans was only 31 words long and was given by an ex-three-term Representative. When Gabby Giffords led the Pledge of Allegiance, there wasn’t a dry eye in the hall – or across the country – no matter which party affiliation one had.
We’ve all been rooting for Gabby over the past year and a half as she fights to recover from the horrific shooting in Tucson that caused her serious brain damage, affecting her mobility and speech. She slowly walked across the stage last week and used her left hand to bring her limp right one up to her heart, later using that same left hand, beaming, to wave to the cheering crowd. We admire her courage, strength and determination to take back control of her life after that senseless rampage cut into her plans, hopes and dreams.
Gabby serves as a role model of resilience for those of us who are tested by other – less traumatic – uncontrollable events in our lives. Here are some steps to take when you are facing challenges that may seem overwhelming:
Recognize your strengths. And draw on them as you have in the past. Gabby had a history of working with others across the aisle in the House to achieve difficult compromises. She used that same tenacity and persistence when faced with the tremendous challenges of her rehabilitation. When you trust you abilities to cope with a difficult situation, you build on that foundation and create a positive upward spiral. Acknowledge each time you accomplish a small success against tough odds – it will give you the power to take the next step.
Put off worrying. Gabby started working on her rehab as soon as she could and put all of her efforts into it, never giving up. Sometimes when we are thrown by uncertainty, we spend so much time and energy worrying about things that might continue to go wrong that we allow those fears to stop us in our tracks. When you don’t let your fears limit you, it frees you to work toward accomplishing new levels and increasing your pleasure.
Come back again on Thursday when I’ll have more tips and resources for building your own resilience. And please let us know what challenges you’re facing and what you’ve done to cope with them.