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How to Stay Motivated in Hard Times

A few years ago, psychologist Al Siebert, who's studied resilience and is the author of "The Survivor Personality: Why Some People
Are Stronger, Smarter and More Skillful at Handling Life's Difficulties" (, wrote an article for a disabilities' website.
I saved it because I think it applies to all of us.

Here are some of the tips he gave:

- "Stay connected. Decide you want to connect well with others." Research has proven the isolation is more detrimental to our wellness than high blood pressure, obesity or smoking.
Connect. Coaches can help you with this and be one of the connections.

"If you have a "victim" habit pattern, replace it with one that gets you what you want."

"Learn to tell your survivor story so it helps and inspires others. Don't be an emotional crybaby."

I have been more inspired by the other people's "survivor" stories than by anything else in my life. We need desperately to learn from survivors, because we all have our crosses to bear, and because we never know what the future will bring.

When I'm down I think of Churchill and Roosevelt, two disabled people who led the Allies in a difficult time. I don't think it was an accident that they were the leaders at that time. Both knew resilience because of their personal tribulations 'Roosevelt being
paralyzed from the waist down, and Churchill having his "black dog," his lifelong depression.

Roosevelt told the nation "The only thing we have to fear it fear itself," and because he'd been there, we listened. Churchill gave us "Never give up. Never, never, never, never."

"Ask for what you want from others. Thank them if they respond." This is so gently put. When we can reach that state of acceptance '
of "possibilities" without "expectations," our lives go so much better.

"Replace constant preoccupation with yourself by increasing empathy for others. This includes knowing what it's like for people to be around you."

I was marketing a church at one time and worked closely with the minister. There was a woman who had been in a car accident which paralyzed her from the waist down, and killed her father and brother. Her way back to wellness was a long one, a struggle we all watched
with agony and what support we could give. At one crucial point the
minister told me it was "time." He was going to "sentence her" to become a Big Sister for a solid year. Get it?

"Look for the meaning in your experience as Victor Frankl did, a holocaust survivor". Frankl's prime inspiration for existing in the death camp was Nietzsche's statement, "That which does not kill me makes me stronger."

Self-esteem, says Siebert, is how you feel about yourself, and what determines how much you LEARN after something goes wrong. It acts as a buffer against "the slings and arrows of fortune."

And while, we're there, we know that few have been or will be as eloquent as Shakespeare. This he said about adversity:

Sweet are the uses of adversity,
Which like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head;
And this our life, exempt from public haunt,
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in every thing.
-- William Shakespeare, "As You Like It."

Sweet ARE the uses of adversity, if we hang in there, keep learning, stay connected, retain our faith in the future, and learn from the experiences of others.

About the Author
Susan Dunn, MA Psychology, Emotional Intelligence Coach, I help people become better communicators and develop their emotional intelligence through coaching, Internet courses and ebooks. Susan is the author of "Nonverbal Communication."

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