Mind, Body, Spirit Connections

Thursday, June 2, 2011

June 2, 2011

Adversity and Triumph~

I think adversity can reveal the best in us, or it can debilitate. Why is it that one person can rise above adversity, become empowered and thrive, while another succumbs to the despair, fear and uncertainty, never moving past the trauma? I am specifically thinking of Elizabeth Smart, who has forgiven her kidnapper and is genuinely excited about her life, and her future. This is a young woman who was raped up to four times a day, drugged and tied to a tree at the age of 14.

Are we born with innate resiliency, a gene that allows us to access some inner, unknown strength, and make the best of whatever situation presents itself? And, for others, who despite their best efforts, seem unable to access these inner resources; is this gene non-existent or impaired? Is this a matter of environment, genetics, or psychosocial factors? I don't know. But we are all familiar with those that see the glass half-full and those who see it half-empty - it's the same amount of liguid, is it not? The perception, however, and the accompanying attitude makes all the difference in the world.

I am an optimistic and resiliant person by nature. I always have been. And, I have had my fair share of adversity and challenges. I always saw them as an opportunity to learn, grow, and become stronger. Is it my genetic makeup or a conscious choice on my part? Hardly seems fair if I possess a gene that allows me to be stronger, more resiliant, and optimistic than others. It feels more empowering to me if I say, " I choose to be happy."

But, what if it is not a choice?

I know too many people who suffer from depression. Who see the world gray rather than in vivid color. I am not certain they "choose" to experience the world in this manner. Winnie the Pooh is popping into my head as an analogy and the beloved "Eeyore". He just can't help himself, just as Tigger can't help himself.

Or, can they?

There is a lot of research trying to discern what those factors exactly are that contribute to resiliency and optimism in children and adults faced with adversity, trauma, and continuous stress. It's not a simple answer, but one that warrants further inquiry. What if there are simple, practical steps we can take in times of stress, adversity and trauma that mitigate and stem depression, PTSD, self-destructive behaviors, and the sense of hopelessness?

It is something to ponder. Please comment with your thoughts on this subject, or share a personal story of triumph in the face of adversity.

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