Sunday, August 14, 2016

Resilience: Overcoming Your Personal Scum Line

For each of us, there is some level below which we must not sink,
or else we lose all respect for ourselves.
~ Laurence Gonzales, describing the Personal Scum Line

In Surviving Survival, The Art and Science of Resilience, Laurence Gonzales details case study after case study of folks like you and me who have survived extraordinary life threats.  

He doesn’t stop with the immediate threat though.  Gonzales takes it a step further, because the aftermath of great trauma is often harder than the event itself.  The Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is harder than the detonated Improvised Explosive Device.  Repiecing one’s life is harder than the shark attack.  

Micki Glenn survived a shark attack in 2002, and in the time that followed, she found her own Personal Scum Line as she worked to overcome the trauma and to build a new life for herself.  For Micki, the moment came when middle-of-the-night flashbacks left her curled in a ball in the closet, peering out from the darkness.  That was enough.  That was Micki’s personal scum line. It became a turning point, and Micki used her low moment to transform.  

Call it shame, call it your Personal Scum Line, each of us has it.  Unless we’re a sociopath, each of us knows shame.  Maybe it is something you have done.  Maybe it’s something that was done to you. Maybe it’s something as simple as losing your job. Maybe it is divorce, obesity, incest, treason, addiction, or having been abused.  

Gonzales develops the Personal Scum Line, and offers the following about resilience, about bouncing back:  
  • Resilient people take 100% responsibility for their situation.  They don’t blame others (and they don’t beat themselves up about it, either).  They take honest stock, do a personal debrief for constructive takeaways, and start fresh.  
  • Resilient people fight back.  Gonzales calls it “creative aggression.”  Resilient people take fresh, new action to move forward with their lives.  
  • Resilient people turn adversity to advantage.  You are not your Personal Scum Line.  Your disability is your opportunity.  The very event(s) that were your undoing can be the building blocks of change and growth.  
  • Resilient people trust the process.  Call it tenacity.  Resilient people stay the course and do not give up.  

What circumstance, shame or personal scum line event is holding you back?  
What action will you take to right the ship, to stay the course, to transform your life?  

1 comment:

  1. We all at some point find ourselves overcome by grief and loss. We all need words of encouragement, especially from those who have been there themselves. We may never know the impact our words can have when someone is down and vulnerable. You listened to me and were there for me when I had nowhere else to turn. Resiliency comes for most of us eventually if we want it to. The will to get back up and carry on for some of us is as a result of those who threw us a life-line when we were drowning. God bless you, Jim.