Get a grip!
Positive psychology from a Yorkshire man.
Resilience is a word that is used a lot at the moment both in the world of positive psychology and within schools. However, there is little that explains how to build it, where we get it and how to develop it. Does it come naturally, or can we develop it from childhood? Do affirmations and mantras and words of wisdom help?
It took a long time before I realised where my foundations for resilience stemmed from. I was experiencing a low day, when trivial (in hindsight) stuff was getting me down and I was falling into the depths of self-pity. The day was at risk of being overwhelmed by a thick grey cloud when these three words came to me loud and clear.
“Get a grip Kimmy”
I had what Oprah would call an “aha moment”.
This was my embodied mantra.
When things got tough, when everything seemed too hard, when life and people were difficult, these were the words that played in my head. They made me stand up, take the next step, get my chin up and face the challenge, the person, the situation.
Now these words won’t work for everyone and they wholeheartedly came from a place of love, they were said in a loving but firm way. It wasn’t a case of not being able to cry, mourn, get angry or feel frustrated. That was allowed, encouraged and supported but when all that was felt and shared and dealt with, partially or fully, the expectation was to get a grip and carry on.
My dad has threatened to start a ‘get a grip.com’ website many times, thank goodness he does not have the capability to work his computer and create this very thing. This would not be a good idea or offer any support for those going through any crisis, believe me!
But his mantra has been effective in my life and has been the backbone for me coping with many difficulties and traumas, tiny and huge. This mantra has also been twinned with humour, my dad’s view that even in the darkest of times you can find humour and positivity.
On reading many articles surrounding resilience, I have discovered many people have similar words that hit them in difficult times.
For Elizabeth Gilbert in her famous book, “Eat, Pray, Love” it was a simple, “go back to bed, Liz’.
For Glennon Doyle, in Love Warrior, a survivor of drug abuse and female campaigner, her words are: “Just take the next right step”.
For my son, it is Philippians 4:13. “I can do all things in Christ who Strengthens me”.
For Margaret Stunt, I love the simplicity of her saying: “Just bash on”.
For some of my students, they post a note on their books adopting Nikes slogan, “Just do it”.
From Marie Forleo: ‘everything is
This came to me this week, when I was struggling with WordPress and setting up this blog. I didn’t know what a SEO, widget or RSS was.
However, this video popped into my inbox and it gave me the strength to go and work it out. We have Google and friends and teenagers to help us; all I needed to do was to figure it out.
Imagine if we went through life, knowing for sure that ‘everything is
You CAN figure it out, no matter what it is.
My mum finishes most phone calls or problems with “oh well, worst things happen at sea”,
I’m not sure what happens at sea or how mum would know! I think actually worse things happen on solid earth where more people are, but it’s her way of making sense of what happens, and I don’t think she is even aware of saying it at times.
Our mantras are often unconscious they give us a cognitive schema of the world. Our cognitive schemas help us organise and make sense of the world. Often, they can come from our parents and people we socialise with.
Your schemas and mantras will be different.
They will work for you, it will be something you fall back on when things are tough.
If you haven’t got a mantra, I suggest you find one.
Keep it short, keep it simple, practise saying it to yourself in the good times, so that it is there for you in the bad times.
As I have matured and read a lot more, I now have countless words of wisdom that help me through a tough time, several from strong amazing women I admire, Maya Angelou, Oprah Winfrey, Brene Brown and many from Bible.
However, the one that remains faithful, runs through my very strong Yorkshire bones is from my lovely dad, it remains gritty, authentic, true and is from a place of unconditional love.