Bounce Back Better: Build Social Networks

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social networking sites have large followings. This is a reflection of the basic need of human beings for love and fellowship as well as the need to feel as part of something bigger than ourselves.

We are social creatures. We need each other, to form strong bonds. We need the safety net of social support systems when other areas of our lives come crashing down.

Image result for support networks

Several years ago a home was burnt to ashes, leaving the family with no possessions. All clothing, food, school supplies, appliances and everything else in the house were destroyed.

There was an outpouring of love from a variety of persons. This love was practical, consisting of donations of food and other supplies. It came from other relatives, community members, friends and well-wishers, their children’s school fraternities, local government representatives and churches.

The family had all the support they needed to survive, eventually re-build a home and to carry on with life in a relatively short time. The ability of that family to withstand and overcome their adverse situation was greatly enhanced by their external support systems.

Similarly, when natural disasters strike, nations come together to assist those undergoing the misfortune. When Haiti and the Dominican Republic were hit by separate hurricanes some years ago, the Government and people of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago graciously and generously assisted them.

The point is that we do not exist in isolation. We need to support each other and we need support from others to survive and thrive.

By working and playing together, our bodies produce hormones such as dopamine and serotonin that promote feelings of well being.

Supportive networks help us differentiate between what is and is not important.

Through our interactions with diverse people, we learn and improve skills that help us stay afloat during difficult times.

Just as we are advised to back up our computer systems, we need to build relationships as our human back-up systems  when tragedy strikes.

Tell me, do you have a strong support network?

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Series of Workshops on Resilience

We all go through rough times.

It may be a loss of job, loss of a loved one through death or breakup, loss of good health, loss of sense of self after a devastating blow or business or examination failure.

Whatever your particular loss may be at this point in time, I have come to realize that there are some basic steps that can help to smooth the transition to a “new normal”.

I recognized a pattern of behaviours to overcome tough times through my own life’s journeys down a rocky road that at one point involved being a survivor of gun violence.

Resilient woman

My third book,”Bounce Back Better, 10(+1) Key Steps for Building Resilience” discusses the steps that all of us need to employ as we traverse this unpredictable, sometimes bumpy life pathway.

 

Out of the third book, I have developed and am developing a series of workshops that will soon be available. The workshops are entitled:

  • Women’s Leadership Workshop: The Resilient Woman
  • Girls’ Empowerment Workshop Series: The Resilient Girl (Ages 12 to 18)
  • Boys’ Empowerment Workshop Series: The Resilient Boy (Ages 12 to 18)
  • Men’s Leadership Workshop: The Resilient Man

The series are 12 part series based on the principles in my book, Bounce Back Better. Each workshop is specifically modified for the the selected audience. The workshops include specially designed workbooks and can be done as half day sessions (12) or whole day sessions (6).

The series :

  • develops definitions of success and resilience,
  • evaluates participants current level of resilience,
  • provides and develops the steps needed for resilience and
  • includes interactive exercises on faith, personal strength, social networks and higher values.

I am planning to host the various workshops online at some point in time and will soon make available an introductory video.

If you are interested in the workshops, online or offline, leave a comment below. You can follow my blog to receive information as it becomes available or leave your email address in the form below.

How Victims of Gun Violence Cope

If you were a victim of gun violence, then this blog post is for you. I am reaching out to anyone whose life was drastically affected by an act of gun violence.

My story is told in part on my blog. You may read the older posts. I also wrote a book on my story of survival, pain and healing.

I would like to hear from you if you too suffered as a result of gun violence. I am particularly interested in how you coped, how the healing process is coming along for you and if you are now doing anything that you may not have done if you had not been shot.

The purpose of doing this is to start a blog series with stories from survivors. The intention is to provide stories that imbue hope for others who may be struggling to cope with a desperate situation. Through reading about the overcoming of adversity by others, perhaps someone might be able to make a positive change in their life.

Initially I am focusing on gun violence but I am willing to interview victims of violence generally.

If you are willing to be interviewed so that your story can inspire someone else, please leave a message in the comments below or you may email me at caron_asgarali@yahoo.com

The stories will be published with or without real names depending on your choice. Primary  (actually injured) or secondary (affected but not shot) victims are welcomed.

In my third book, I wrote about the value of deflecting attention away from yourself to help others. It really does work to help you heal when you help someone else. I look forward to hearing from some of you, as we take this leap forward to help others.

Leave a comment in the space below to let me know your thoughts.

R.A.R.E.

Raising Awareness on the Ripple Effect of gun violence. R.A.R.E. GuV

Paving the way toward peace.  

The two statements above are representative of the work I am about to undertake. The actual title and tagline are still being worked on but soon enough I will get there.

This work ties in with the availability of my third published book, Bounce Back Better, 10(+1) Key Steps for building Resilience. The idea for working to combat the forces that drive violent actions was born at a Global Leadership Summit I attended in Trinidad during October 2016.

I had plans to raise awareness of the plight of victims of gun violence prior to that, through the book, and I had a vague concept of what was needed to be done but, attending that summit brought a degree of clarity that was missing.

In this post, on this new page, I give you the rationale for such action and the nature of my stance i.e. a position of action not reaction, not blame. So here goes.

Sunday January 29th, 2017 will mark the fourth anniversary of the day that gun violence made its indelible mark on my life and the lives of many within my inner circles.

There are those who would trivialize such an incident by remarking, “It has been four years after all, move on, forget about it.”

Sadly, though it may be easy to utter such words, anyone with a social conscience will know that path of simply forgetting and moving on is obvious only for the unenlightened. For those who have been through the fires of such an adverse situation, the path forward requires more than physical and emotional healing. Recovery is an ongoing process that demands giving of self to elevate society.

As such I have come to that point in my personal journey where I may now serve by sharing from my experience. The prevalence of gun violence in my beautiful twin island home of Trinidad and Tobago is increasing. It has now become almost the norm to hear reports of yet another fatality or injury through gun violence. In fact the current statistic available at the time of writing this piece, taken  from the Trinidad and Tobago 2016 Crime & Safety Report , reveals that 81% of murders in 2015 were committed by the use of a firearm (https://www.osac.gov/pages/ContentReportDetails.aspx?cid=19522). No figures were available for 2016.

Being a former victim positions me to speak out in favour of peaceful resolutions instead of violent persuasion. The burden of responsibility for raising awareness about the ripple effect of gun violence is squarely cast upon my shoulders.

The position I have chosen to adopt  is not to cast blame or seek to point fingers at anyone. It is not intended to vent anger or frustration against those who choose the use of guns. Instead the purpose is to raise awareness of the ripple negative impact of the use of guns. Through that awareness, the mission is to generate peaceful resolutions and attitudes. The ultimate purpose of R.A.R.E of gun violence is to bring to the forefront the sanctity and value of life and the respect we need to have for individual lives.

The effect of gun violence has already impacted many of our citizens in the past. Perhaps even as you read this, someone else may be affected. It may have indirectly affected you. Who knows what the future holds? Let us not keep assuming it is going to be someone else and their family. Let us strive to add our one drop to the ocean to make a difference. Let us embrace peace and work toward developing our moral, mental and spiritual consciousness as we systematically reinforce our strengths to defeat the kind of environment that breeds violence.

Let us pave the forward peacefully.

The Leaning Tower of… You!

Here is another offering from my new book, sent for publishing and soon to be launched.

“…making incremental changes, particularly during times of trauma or crisis, may be easier to do than making radical changes. Additionally, a shift in behaviour could translate into significant emotional and intellectual alterations.

 

Consider the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The Tower now leans at an angle that has been adjusted over the years since its construction. The top of the Tower is about 4.5 metres displaced from the vertical. What this means is that there is a slight displacement at the base of the Tower that manifests into an amazing tourist attraction at the top and a phenomenon of physics. Regardless of the reasons behind the leaning of the Tower, the result is indisputable. A slight shift is sufficient to create a wonder!”

Have you ever noticed any significant change in your life resulting from a minor alteration in your belief, attitude or behaviour? Leave a comment below to let me know please.

Locked in defeat’s dentate grip?

dentate

A little bit of sharing today – a quote from my soon to be published book, “Bounce Back Better”.

One of the things I do when one of life’s troughs dips into my life is that I get extremely quiet. It helps me to calm my mind and emotions and to come to terms with what is happening.

Leave a comment below to share with us one little thing that you do to help you cope with big or small challenges.

When you crash into a rock…

 

The storms of life may become so intense, so severe that the figurative electromagnetic glow from your big dream becomes difficult to see. Perhaps you have lost a loved one or had a bad medical diagnosis. Maybe you lost a job or are in danger of doing so. There may be trouble in a romantic relationship or a pending poor examination result. There is a wide range of turbulence in this short life.

What may seem minor to you could prove overwhelming to another. We all have different coping mechanisms. Some of us are more emotionally vulnerable than others. That is a biological fact. Some persons are sensitive enough to detect very slight emotional changes that others may not notice. These people often also experience more intense emotions. Such individuals are susceptible to more frequent, unpredictable, extreme and long-lasting emotional attacks.

This emotional response is compounded by another biological response: impulsivity. There are a lot of people who have great difficulty regulating their responses to a variety a stimuli. Their actions tend to get them into trouble. They act responsively, later realizing that they ought not to have reacted as they did, to the extent they did. These persons act out in ways that are determined by how they feel. This type of action gets in the way of being able to achieve set goals. For impulsive people keeping their emotions and actions compartmentalized is a real challenge and as such they are unable to achieve effectiveness in their daily lives.

The social environment strongly influences emotions and actions. A supportive environment promotes more effective coping mechanisms for an emotionally vulnerable, impulsive person. I will talk about this in a subsequent post. For now I want to focus on how anyone of us could cope during a stormy life episode.

In the last post, which you may read about here, I wrote about the importance of having a detailed, passion-filled dream. When your ship of life crashes into a rock and thrusts you into  great physical, emotional and mental trauma is it possible to hold on to that dream? I want to suggest that you should hold on to the dream but… temporarily defer acting on that dream until such time as you need to feel, grieve and come to acceptance.

Research in psychology has shown that there Is a higher level of functionality after a critical incidence by individuals who were able and willing to embrace their pain. The idea is that experiencing pain to its fullest is a great form of therapy. It brings you to the point of being able to move toward healing. If you have to then cry, reflect, feel the hurt and pain and anger. Go inwardly to your lowest depths and feel. The emphasis at this point is to feel not to act. Do not act in haste. It may be best to defer making difficult decisions at this time. You want to act later rather than sooner to avoid impulsivity.

Not being able to feel and to grieve for what has happened leaves you imprisoned by the bondage of a lack of forgiveness, thoughts of revenge and your eventual anchoring in the past. To move on from a difficult situation means leaving behind the source of your pain after feeling it, grieving the resultant loss and coming to acceptance of your new situation.

Your circumstances are different after any trial but thankfully different may be better. Your trials are transient. Your challenges will bring change and creativity. Seeing it through those difficult times in your life promises that you will be able to recalibrate and begin to bounce back better.

The Lighthouse

 

Picture this: You are stranded at sea in a boat with a small crew and it is a stormy night. The waves are crashing all around and the night is outstandingly dark. The boat bobs unsteadily along as water sprays and hits you with unbelievable force. Navigation becomes difficult, almost impossible. Then… a brilliant, steady and reassuring light, gradually growing brighter, appears in the distance.

The captain steers in the direction of that lifeline, that glow of safety and comfort. The boat draws closer and closer to the shore. There is a huge crashing wave which almost sweeps the boat under. Almost. The boat is temporarily thrown off course but the captain soon recalculates and gets the boat back on track, a little closer to his destination. This happens over and over until finally he is able to cast anchor. Thank goodness for that beacon guiding him towards the harbor.

Your life’s big dream or goal is like that beacon from the lighthouse. It should remain shining brightly in the distance guiding you closer to its final accomplishment. No matter what life throws your way, no matter what obstacles you have to overcome, you keep your focus on that goal.

Having your life goal clearly defined and written or drawn to concretize it, ensures that it saturates your thoughts. It then directly influences all your actions and decisions. It impacts on your education, your choice of spouse, your house, your children…

The best dreams are infused with passion based on your innate gifts, your talents, your skills, your knowledge and your preferences. My own dream has always been to be a philanthropist. I started taking action many years ago; I started in a small way, working on my own. As time progressed I worked with some enthusiastic persons in a group we formed just for that purpose.

When my life was thrown into turmoil and my circumstances changed, I had to take some time to re- calculate my personal GPS. Having done that, I have readjusted my sight on the guiding light of my dream and am still slowly taking steps to achieve that goal.

All of us need to have a clearly outlined, detailed life plan or big dream as I like to call it. That dream ought to be guided by our unique gifts.  Having such a dream written or drawn so that each day you can look at it, means that even in turbulent times, you will be able to recover and take positive action steps to bring you back onto the course of your dream.

Do you have a tangible life plan or big dream? Are you working toward it consciously or not?