Category: <span>Growth</span>

10 Ways to Foster & Cultivate Resilience

By Leticia Quezada, MSW, LCSW


How many times have we asked ourselves how is it that some people go through the worst of experiences in their lives and yet they seem able to rise from the ashes renewed, healthier, and happier?


We know this phenomenon as RESILIENCE.


One person that is really an example of resilience is Steve Pemberton. In his book “A Chance in the World” he talks about his story of incredible pain, acute abuse and neglect, lack of identity having been abandoned as a baby, and ending up in an abusive foster home. He remembered spending long hours looking at himself in the mirror trying to understand who he was and where he came from. Being bi-racial, he studied his facial features, his afro hair, and his intense blue eyes.


With his extraordinary resilience, and the help of some mentors along the way, he was able to achieve his goals: having a successful career, a family of his own, and finally finding his origins by locating family members, both White and African American.


What is resilience? 

Resilience has been defined as: “The ability to adapt and thrive despite experiencing adversity. It reflects the ability to ‘bounce back’ after traumatic and victimizing experiences.” (Dr. Donald Meichenbaum, Ph.D., Presentation at the 2017 Evolution of Psychotherapy Conference.)

Dr. Meichenbaum cited some neuro-psychological mechanisms that nurture resilience: reframing, use of humor, realistic optimism, goal-oriented coping, pro-social behaviors, social supports, and meaning making buffers of negative feelings.

Jerry White (2008) lost some of his limbs to landmine explosions and he founded “Survivor’s Corp., an organization designed to foster a mindset of survivorship and prevent what is referred to as “victim mentality.”

Jerry White proposes five steps for trauma survivors to tap in their innate resilience to grow stronger:

  1. Face the facts: acknowledge and accept what happened
  2. Choose life: live for the future, not the past
  3. Reach out: connect with others with similar experiences
  4. Get moving: set goals and take action
  5. Give back: Be thankful for what you have and contribute to others. Express both gratitude and generosity


Resilience is not the privilege of a few. 


Although some people may have a genetic pre-disposition for resilience, the good news for all of us is that it can be learned by all, it is not the privilege of a few lucky ones. Resilience seems to be a set of skills rather than a disposition or a personality type. If this is the case, that means that it is possible for every person not only to get through hard times, but also to thrive during and after the experience.


Traumatic experience affects the brain in many possible ways, but according to Dr. Meichenbaum “the brain is a remarkable resilient organ.” In his book “Roadmap to Resilience, (2013) he adds that individuals who have experienced trauma can bolster their resilience in six different domains: physical, interpersonal, emotional, cognitive, behavioral, and spiritual.


In summary, by no means, it is my intention to minimize or ignore the damaging effects that trauma and abuse cause to our physical and mental health, including real changes in the structure of our brains.


“It is impossible to tell from a single glance, the journeys someone has traveled, the experiences that have made them who they are.” (Steve Pemberton, “A Chance in the World” P. 205)


The good news, though, is that resilience, according to Psychiatrist Dennis Charney, is a set of skills that can be acquired.


Actor Michael J. Fox, who has been battling Parkinson’s Disease for more than 30 years, states the following in his interview by AARP Magazine (December 2021): “As I came through the darkness, I had an insight about being grateful, and how gratitude makes optimism sustainable.” “And, if you think you don’t have anything to be grateful for, keep looking, because you don’t just receive optimism, you have to behave in a way that promotes that.”


The following are suggestions from the experts that would help us bolster resilience:

  1. Develop a core set of beliefs that nothing can shake.
  2. Try to find meaning in whatever stressful or traumatic thing has happened.
  3. Try to maintain a positive outlook.
  4. Take cues from someone who is especially resilient.
  5. Don’t run from things that scare you: face them.
  6. Be quick to reach out for support when things go haywire.
  7. Learn new things as often as you can.
  8. Find an exercise regimen you will stick to.
  9. Don’t beat yourself up or dwell in the past.
  10. Recognize what makes you uniquely strong and own it.


Above all, be willing to reach out to others for help when needed. We all need professional help and peer support at one time or another.  Let’s be willing to take the extra step to come out triumphant from our traumatic experiences.


We are here to assist you.


-Leticia Quezada, MSW, LCSW

La Magia del Amor Interior


En esta escritura, los invito a buscar en sí mismos la magia, y no magia en la que se puede sacar un conejo de un sombrero o una moneda de las orejas del participante, si no una magia espiritual, magia de amor y los milagros.


¿Qué significa lo que digo? ¿Qué significa la magia espiritual, la magia de amor?


Primero propongo a que se pongan a pensaren todas las cosas que han declarado estar mal en su vida. El sentimiento de estar atrapado en un trabajo miserable, un matrimonio que no parece mejorar, en una situación solitaria, o una carrera en la que se estudió con fuerzas, pero no realizo los sueños.


Todos estos sentimientos son muy comunes entre la sociedad. Van a ver veces donde no sentimos que en nadas nos va bien, esto no significa que es el fin del esfuerzo. Esto solo quiere decir que estamos presenciando un cambio mágico. Desafortunadamente, no sabemos como apreciar esta magia, y pues, se nos va de las manos para no volver y después aprendemos arrepentirnos del momento perdido.


Así con esto, los invito aprender como cambiar nuestro sistema de vida para poder valorar esta magia espiritual en donde podemos apreciar los milagros del día tras día e incrementar nuestro estado de ánimo. Así para lograr amarnos a sí mismos.


El primer paso para esta magia espiritual y los milagros es aceptar que el sufrimiento es igual de importante que el amor.


El sufrir no es para siempre y después de este sufrimiento viene el amor y la paz. Sin el sufrimiento y el dolor interno, no sabríamos entender la verdadera belleza de nuestra humanidad. Es muy humano sentir coraje, tristezas, miedo, y felicidad. Cuando peleamos contra los sentimientos, imponemos reglas de amor.


¿Y qué quiere decir esto?


Que queremos decidir como amar cuando el amor no tiene reglas. Las reglas en el amor disminuyen la intensidad de su poder, la belleza humana, y la magia espiritual.


El autor Paulo Coelho explica que, -Sufrimos porque no conseguimos imponer nuestras reglas-


El amor interior y la magia espiritual consisten en poder amar sus sentimientos incomodos, sus sufrimientos, sus fallas, así como amamos nuestras alegrías y logros.


Amarnos sin condiciones, sin reglas.


Todos los días que aceptamos amar sin reglas, es una oportunidad para llenarnos de milagros y de la magia espiritual.


Los invito a poder sentir estos milagros diarios de manera humana donde valoramos lo bueno junto con lo malo, ver la vida de manera hermosa, y saber que todo es pasajero.


Agradecer y contemplar los días, el sol, la luna, la naturaleza, los sentidos, la familia, y el universo. Todas estas son los milagros que se nos han dado y cuando amamos, se vuelven mas intensos y mas bellos y dejamos de sufrir en un estado constante.


 -Los milagros pasan cuando dejamos de tratar en controlar nuestro alrededor- Paulo Coelho.



Elda Stepp, LPC, LMHC, CART

Resilience: An Anxiety Vaccine

“People experience increased stress and concern in times of crisis as we are currently facing.”

– Dr. Asim Shah, professor and executive vice president in Menninger’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Baylor College of Medicine.

A word that has gone viral in our society is anxiety, keeping in mind that anxiety is needed and adaptive in supporting us and preserving life, along with fear, anger, sadness, or happiness.

Until a few years ago, it was estimated that 20.6% of the world’s population suffered from anxiety. A recent survey by the American Psychiatric Association shows that Americans are suffering from anxiety.

The survey found that four out of 10 suffer from anxiety when they think they may become seriously ill or die, five out of 10 Americans experience anxiety about getting coronavirus and six in 10 suffer from anxiety because family members get the virus. In addition, individuals may be overwhelmed with concerns about uncertainty of the next paycheck, increased bills and increase in social isolation.

Considering now, that when we experience a sleep interruption and change in appetite, we find ourselves more irritable or sensitive. When it comes to anxiety, the most recurrent manifestations of anxiety are shortness in breathing, palpitations, headache, back pain, catastrophic thoughts and other symptoms, and managing them is not always easy.

If this is the case, the important thing to keep in mind is to observe these changes and address them promptly by seeking professional support, so that it does not adverse impacts on yourself or your family.

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