Have you ever read the story, The Little Engine That Could?


A heavy train needed to be pulled over a tall mountain. The big engines refused to take on the job, but the little engine decided to take on the challenge.


Why did the little engine take on such a huge job? In her own words, “I think I can, I think I can.


The going was rough, at points the Little Engine faltered, but she ultimately pulled the train over the mountain. As she rolled along down the other side, she was heard to say, “I thought I could, I thought I could.”


What really sets the Little Engine apart from the other engines in the yard is the power of her self-efficacy to overcome perceived impossibilities and persist in the face of challenges.


In last week’s email I wrote about the power to be unstoppable - your mind’s ability to look at a tough situation and make a decision that you can conquer the challenge. If you didn’t read it, I hope you will read it on my blog because I think it could really help you!



Self-efficacy is never more important than when you feel that you are “swimming upstream” in your life.


Life has got its ups and downs and when you have unique challenges such as ADD / ADHD, learning disabilities, emotional issues or, as in my case, physical disabilities, the “downs” may seem to outnumber the “ups.”


When you get “knocked down” and then “get up and keep going,” that’s resiliency.


Resiliency is how well a person can from recover from the inevitable ups and downs of life. How we view and react to our mistakes and perceived shortcomings defines our resiliency.


We can make a choice to view tough situations as challenges that we can work to overcome, instead of stressful experiences to avoid at all costs.


Unfortunately many of us women were not raised to be resilient, at least not in some important areas in our lives. 



Why does resiliency matter?


People who aren’t resilient are much more likely to see themselves as overall losers and failures in their lives. Many times, they haven’t “compartmentalized” some or all of their challenges, which means they haven’t separated their challenges from their overall definition of their worth, value or success as a person.


Here’s an example of compartmentalization. If you struggle to pay attention, compartmentalizing occurs when you label these struggles specifically and situationally, rather than generally and negatively. A resilient label would be “My mind sometimes wanders when I do things that don’t interest me.” A non-resilient label would be “I can’t pay attention to things.” 


There is a crucial difference in the labels we use to define our lives. In this case, the label, “My mind sometimes wanders when I do things that don’t interest me,” describes a situation in non-judgmental terms and also makes it clear that the wandering mind is situational. This label gives us hope of finding ways to deal with the situation. 


However, the second label “I can’t pay attention to things” is like an order or direction given to the mind to produce that result, and certainly does suggest a negative connotation, a sense of being a failure at paying attention. These negative “orders” don’t lead to problem solving, they lead to non-productive avoidance behaviors.


My upbringing was a mixed bag.  My parents taught me resilience in some areas of my life but not in others. In terms of education, they taught me that a bad grade was temporary, and I could make great grades through my own efforts.


However, in terms of social relationships, I learned that I was a person who nobody wanted to be friends with because there was something wrong with me. My parents didn’t know how to help me or get me the support I needed to learn friendships aren’t about “being” something, they are about how you treat people. I carried that burden around for a long time - until I finally did something about it!!! (Self-efficacy and resilience are closely interwoven.)



Low resiliency is damaging to our lives


So, what happens when you are not resilient, when you don’t believe that you can change things, when your self-efficacy is low? Unfortunately, you develop unhealthy coping strategies such as quitting, giving up, blaming others and denying responsibility


All of these behaviors are very normal in the moment as an automatic reaction. They aren’t a problem in themselves, they’re just human nature. They become a problem when a person gets stuck in these kinds of unhealthy coping strategies and lives a large percentage of their life believing that these negative views of the world are true. 


Just like all people, I naturally and automatically blame external circumstances and other people when things don’t go my way. And sometimes that cycle can last for a couple hours. Ouch!! I’m not having fun. 


I know myself well now; I know where my “hot buttons” are and I strive to deal with them. Sometimes it takes me some time to get back in proactive charge of my life, and that’s ok, because I refuse, I absolutely refuse to go back to the reality of the little girl who thought she was broken and defective. So if I allowed myself to get stuck in the reality that something is innately wrong with me, then I would isolate myself from people, like I used to when I was younger, and I’d make my problems worse. 



How you can develop more resilience  


As we’ve been saying, resilience means bouncing back from set-backs. Yesterday wasn’t the best day for me, but hey, today is going to be great because I can make it great. Last night I remembered to congratulate myself on everything that went right in the day, and surprise, it was a LOT.


So…make a decision to look for everything that is going right, everything that fits in with your core values, every way that you are living true to who you want to be.


You might want to make a record of your observations in a journal. And you might want to label that journal with a title that evokes resiliency and self-efficacy! Maybe some version of “My Strengths,” or “I Really Kick Butt.”



Anyone can develop resiliency and self-efficacy


If you have read this far, something is calling you. You can sense the power of believing in YOU so much that you keep getting back up when you fall down. You know resilience is (or can be) one of your ninja weapons! Good!



“Falling down is a part of life, getting back up is living.”

- José N. Harris



If you have passionate dreams and brilliant ideas, but you’re frustrated by procrastination, lack of focus and difficulty following through, it’s time to get in the driver’s seat once and for all! I help women take charge of their “out of control” lives … women who feel scattered, overwhelmed, and out of their depths trying to keep their heads above water in their careers and personal lives.


⇒  Get started right now!


Grab a copy of my FOCUS Strategies for Women with ADHD - A proven system to stay attentive, on target and in control. I share a few of my best tips for getting focused and I even show you how to combine them into a successful system so you can stop the cycle of overwhelm and blame, get control of your time, and feel good about how much you accomplish. 

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Kari Miller - ADHD & Productivity Coaching For Women and Students

Imagine finally feeling focused, confident and in control of your time and your tasks. What would it be like to release the frustration and shame and finally be able to skillfully manage your home, your career and your life! If you've tried all the "traditional" approaches to time and task management, but the pieces haven't come together for you yet, contact me - I can help!

To contact Dr. Miller
Email: klmiller555@sbcglobal.net
Website: ADHDclearandfocused.com