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Episode 33: Five Pillars to Turn Challenge Into Resilience with Dr. Robyne Hanley-Dafoe

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Brief summary of show:

How do we become more resilient? Are there people in life who are simply ‘luckier’ than others, and get to experience true resilience and freedom? Or is there a science and framework that can help you develop resilience?

This week on the podcast, I sit down with Dr. Robyne Hanley-Dafoe to explore the topic of resilience and becoming more resilient humans.

Robyne’s writing and speaking interests focus on resiliency and wellness including topics such as the intersections of stress, optimal challenge, navigating change and self-identity, in her own backyard and around the world. She has worked within post-secondary education in a variety of roles bringing wise practices for professional development, research, learning and authentic change.

Listen in as we talk about:

  • Dr. Robyne’s life-changing event of being trapped in a car under water and surviving

  • Her five pillars of resilience

  • How to find resilience in really hard moments

  • What your comeback rate is

  • How to support your kids with their comeback rate

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Resources mentioned in the episode:

Connect with Dr. Robyne

Connect with Me

Podcast Highlights:

[00:02:18] Where Dr. Robyne's awareness around resilience came from

[00:04:45] Dr. Robyne's life-changing moment and rock bottom that changed everything

[00:12:02] Dr. Robyne's Five Pillars of Resiliency

[00:19:10] What a Comeback Rate is

[00:27:48] Tips to being a more present parent

Click Arrow to See Full Transcript of this Episode

Hi everyone. Well, something I have really worked on over the course of my life is resilience bouncing back from hardship, pushing through what maybe subconsciously I don't want to do also staying positive, overcoming some really tough stuff. And I know that you relate because I hear this from many of you in messages and in emails. [00:00:51] I don't think that we are necessarily born with a sense of resilience. I think some people are naturally more upbeat, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they're resilient. My guest today is an expert in resilience, Dr. Robin Hanley Defoe. She's a multi award winning psychology and education instructor, and she is amazing. [00:01:11] I loved this conversation. It went by in like three minutes, even though it was longer than that, I just learned so much. So wait until you hear her story, how she got into this, also her tips on building resilience for yourself, but also for your kids and those around you, how you can help other people in your life. [00:01:32] And before we get started, I want to ask you a big favor. Have you subscribed to this podcast? I don't want you to miss anything that I have in store because they have some really great episodes ahead. And if you feel so inclined while you're there, it would mean the world. To me. If you would leave a review of the podcast, also share it with your community, your family, and your friends too. [00:01:52] Okay. Here we go. Let's learn about resilience with Dr. [00:01:56] Natalie: Robin Hanley Defoe. [00:01:57] Well, Robin third time is a charm. We have tried several times to make this interview happen. It was meant to be, and I've really been excited on your topic and what you are all about because it's very much in line with what I believe and what I do here on my podcast. So we're going to jump right into resiliency. [00:02:15] And tell me a little bit about how this came about [00:02:18] Dr. Robyne: for you and your. Yeah, of course. Well, first and foremost, thank you for this opportunity to connect. I've been looking forward to this as well. So where resiliency started to unfold actually came not from that kind of academic place where I'm working with it. [00:02:33] Now, it very much started with just this kind of observation as I was growing up, experiencing a lot of challenges and a lot of adversity, really that I started to kind of see that there was, there was something that was helping me find a way through even some of the most challenging. Seasons of my life. [00:02:50] There was this capacity. And at the time, I didn't know it was called resiliency, but in reflection and on the other side of some of those challenges and then going to pursue my education, I was able to realize and name it very much. It is that resiliency that helped me see a see-through some very difficult experience. [00:03:09] So was it at a [00:03:10] Natalie: young age? Was it, you know, I look at teenage years with teenagers in my house as where you really build your character and who you are in getting through hardships. When was that? [00:03:21] Dr. Robyne: Yeah again. Great question. So for me, and it's a wee bit of a long story, but I'll tell it to you briefly. So I was a child who grew up in a really solid house. [00:03:30] I had very devoted and caring parents that met my needs and everything from the outside was like, okay, this should be really smooth sailing for this family. We had the resources, the support, all that we needed yet, there was a way. That somehow I got off course, and it was a, almost a slow, steady erosion where it started kind of early in school. [00:03:51] I wasn't doing very well in school. Not necessarily hanging out with the best crowd. And unfortunately, by the time I hit 16, I was in a very dark season of my life and my parents, they loved me so hard, Natalie, but totally helplessly. And at this point I had already dropped out of high school. I was navigating some major mental health challenges and I was fighting through some pretty aggressive addictions. [00:04:17] Now my parents stood by me and my mother in particular always had this steadfast belief in me naturally that I could do hard things. She knew I was in a really challenging place, a difficult season. But she had that steadfast confidence that I was going to find a way to figure it out. And it was actually one of the interventions, I guess you could say my parents tried in that really hard time is our family naturally actually moved. [00:04:45] We moved from a busy city scape into a rural, kind of a more remote area, quiet, simple way to give me a chance to heal and to recover. And when I got there, I did do those. I invested in my recovery. And the other thing naturally I did was get my driver's license and it was pretty remote. So I needed a driver's license. [00:05:06] There was no transit, and I'm happy to share this story with you on how this really is the origin story as to how I understood human resiliency in a very, very different way. I think then a lot of folks talk about it and what happened when I moved up north and got that driver's license. I had it for just one week when I was able to drive alone and I was driving home late at night by myself and a snow storm rolled in, you know, I'm from Canada and uh, it was February and a snow storm rolled in real quick. [00:05:40] And I lost control of my view. And the vehicle actually went off the road and went off an embankment. And my vehicle actually crashed through the ice and my vehicles sank in the Teton river with me trapped inside. Oh, so I was in this, this moment where all of a sudden, you know, my car is submerged. [00:06:02] I'm trapped deserted road in the middle of the night. And Natalie, I had this moment. Where I realized I wasn't feeling scared. I wasn't even feeling afraid in this moment. I was feeling a little bit of anger. I know I was feeling anger at the thought that I could not protect my mother from what was about to happen. [00:06:25] Oh. That my mother is going to lose her daughter like this. And that's really what I thought about my mom. It was like this emotional. Rang through my bones. And I was so overwhelmed with this feeling that I can do hard things like my mother had been telling me since I was a little girl. And in that moment I made the decision to survive. [00:06:49] I was able to get out of that vehicle. I was able to escape through the window. Wow. I got to the other side though, naturally, and I actually couldn't tell which way was up or down. They estimate the vehicle was almost 20 feet underwater. And in that moment of just kind of, almost like you surrender to the situation, I had this idea of just a. [00:07:13] To let go of all of my breath that I'd been holding on to, because I knew my bubbles would rise. And I remember swimming as hard as I could not see after those bubbles thinking. And I had this little surge and I'm going to make it, like, I actually had that moment thinking, okay, I'm going to find a way out of this. [00:07:32] And then all of a sudden there was this like smash and I couldn't figure out what it was. And I realized my face was actually hitting the ice. Because I was pinned under ice, the vehicle that had crashed the whole upstream, but now I was dragged downstream and that's the, I just kept trying to find a way to get out. [00:07:51] And eventually in the middle of this channel, I was able to get through the ice and I was holding the edge of this ice shield. And that night there was a gentleman by the name of Joseph. His name was Joseph Todd and Joseph Todd. Somehow saw my car tracks in that snow. And he somehow decided to like drive all down that deserted road to see if he could see anyone. [00:08:17] And he pulled up like his pickup truck over and he sees my body out on the ice. He grabs wood in a chain, And he crawls out onto that ice. He slides out that Chaney wraps it around my body and he drags me to shore. Now, Joseph Todd was awarded the governor General's award for bravery, for risking his life to save a stranger is the highest award of bravery week of civilians in Canada. [00:08:44] And the last a little bit I'll share with you is when I woke up from the hospital, like in the hospital, my mother was. And my mother asked me very clearly, how did you do it? How did you get yourself out of this predicament? And I said to my mom, it's very much because you told me I could do hard things. [00:09:02] And my mother said that's not actually quite what we had in mind, but I'm glad it worked in your favor. So me too, mum, I'm glad it worked in my favor. Um, Believable [00:09:12] Natalie: story as a teenager, correct. How old were you then? Were you 16 years old? I have teenagers and I. I put my kids in situations like that. And you just hope and pray that they will have that resiliency, be it an accident or any difficult thing that they have in their life. [00:09:33] Wow. What a story was. Was a turning point in your life, obviously, for many reasons. And for some people, you know, it might not be, I'm still wiping away. Tears. Your story is so incredible. [00:09:45] Dr. Robyne: It might not be such a big [00:09:48] Natalie: event or accident, but they still have to find. that resilience to push through something hard. [00:09:57] Yes. So you, you found this, this focus in your life and let's [00:10:02] Dr. Robyne: go into a little bit more [00:10:03] Natalie: of what you have found the pillars of resiliency, what those are and [00:10:09] Dr. Robyne: how we can learn from them. Of course. So. Yes, that experience was this, you know, sensational event that very much was this awakening realizing that there is purpose. [00:10:21] There's a, there's more at play than we can see and really trusting that we're going to be able to find our way through even the darkest hours. And I think one of the pieces, and again, that really started that recovery for me, where, for me, the recovery really became about education, about getting back into school, kind of getting steadied after such a challenging season and then learning. [00:10:45] And so then I spent the next 20 years studying and learning and working with persons really all over around the world about, okay, what is it that creates that capacity? To do those hard things to be able to show up. And I really appreciate what you're saying is that this idea that it doesn't always have to be this huge accident or this huge moment, what it comes down to is it's these daily decisions every day resiliency. [00:11:09] And for some persons it's. Getting up in the morning, getting out the door and maybe it's making that difficult phone call or even showing up or whatever that is. As, as, especially as a parent, we're stick handling and navigating that every single day. So it doesn't, it's not reserved only for these big catastrophic events. [00:11:30] It's the everyday things that count. [00:11:32] Natalie: it comes down to me. And I think because I made a big change in my life in the last year, and I hear from a lot of people are trying to make a change and they don't know how to do that. So sometimes physically like through an accident or physically, but I think a lot of, a lot of this resilience. [00:11:51] Also comes in an emotional way. How do I get through the relationship that's difficult or, you know, so we're looking at physical and emotional. It all kind of comes [00:12:02] Dr. Robyne: together, right? Sure, sure does. And it comes in to those five pillars, which you brought up. So the first one we've come upon is this idea of belonging. [00:12:10] Each and every one of us needs a home team. We do need a person in our corner. That's going to rally around us. That's going to protect us, or we feel the need to protect them as well. Like, we are very powerful when we are in that place of protecting our family systems. And so for some, it might be family for others. [00:12:29] It's chosen family, but each and every one of us, we need to be seen. We need to be heard and honored as our flawed self. Right. So. People, it's not that we're holding this perfection. People see all of the bumps and bruises and they, they still hold space for us. So belonging is the first pillar. Now the second pillar we came upon is actually perspective. [00:12:51] It's the way that people see the world, what they choose to look at and. As you already mentioned, it's the way that they feel the world is this alignment between our head and our heart. And when we can honor that head and heart connection, we operate from our values. So resilient people know how to make what matters most matter. [00:13:12] Most they know where to put their focus. Now, the third pillar we talk about is acceptance. And I can share with you, this is a challenging one because. as inner society, we're very much conditioned to think that acceptance means we have to like, like it or get to that place of like, okay, fine. This is, you know, this idea of resolution or we have to let it go. [00:13:35] What we've come upon in our work is that acceptance really is about first learning, how to decipher your controllables. So once you figure out what you're in control of and what you're not in control of, then we get to that place of learning how to co-exist with the parts that we don't like. We don't actually have to like any. [00:13:55] But we make that daily decision to coexist and that might be grief. It might be lost. It could even be a diagnosis, whereas like we didn't sign up for this, but we are going to understand that it is going to be part of our story and we're going to find a way to move through it. Now, the fourth variable, and again, there's five. [00:14:13] So I got two more quick ones for you now I'm loving this. Awesome. The fourth one is. Choosing to live hope-filled and living in hope with others. That is probably the most powerful place that we can make decisions from in this idea that we trust that we might not know what's on the other side and we know there'll be obstacles, challenges, difficulty, but we have that steadfast confidence trust, faith that we're going to get. [00:14:40] That we are going to find a way to the other side and the last one. So we, bit of a wildcard because it's actually humor. It's like play and joy and lightheartedness. Even Mary mint actually helps us in a biological way, navigate difficult days and seasons of our lives. And we often talk in my work about how. [00:15:01] When you laugh, your body releases is like natural tranquilizer. So your pain receptors are blocked. And other example is, you know, for example, we know people who swear they live longer who knew some of us might be a mortal, but