Jay Rifenbary

Jay Rifenbary's Blog

Resilience: Time to Toughen Up


Have you ever been down in the dumps, questioned your life’s purpose, failed at something and subsequently asked yourself, where do I go from here? We all reach periods in our life that challenge our very being and force us to take actions that are difficult and even frightening. It is the choice to take those daunting actions that will forever solidify the nature of your character, your own self-acceptance and self-respect. The unknown crossroads we all encounter bring forth life lessons that pave the way for our future, our happiness and fulfillment. They literally present us with turning points to choose from; and the ultimate decision of which path to take will contribute to what your life will be, and will have been. Those actions will also formulate the answer to the question, “What will you be remembered for?”

The behavioral attribute and resource to harness the strength to be decisive, and eventually persevere through uncertainty is individual resilience. It will triumph over self-doubt, failure and a lack of self-respect. Resilience is defined as, “able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions”, “able to recoil or spring back into shape after bending, stretching or being compressed”. It is resilience that fuels perseverance, accelerating the journey to success. A solid level of resilience rests in the core values you believe in, but most importantly it is acting on and living a life reflective of those core values. Acting on your core values resiliently promotes every other characteristic of success, including integrity, personal honesty, accountability, self-respect, attitude, professionalism, humility, and empathy to name a few. A saying attributed to the Chinese Philosopher Chuang Tzu states, “Heaven is internal, humanity external and virtue comes from the heavenly. Know heaven and humanity’s actions, root yourself in heaven and follow virtue. Then you can bend, stretch, rush forward or hold back, because you will always return to the core and it will be said you have achieved the supreme.”

Recognizing the interdependency of the many principles of success resulting from your resiliency will provide you with a blueprint for self-understanding and achievement. You are the architect of your life’s design, and the construction manager of its progress. The rewards to being resilient include learning from the struggle, adding a new life experience, reflecting with a different perspective and gaining a greater appreciation for what you do have, rather than want you don’t have. The birth of resilient behavior stems from our upbringing, and the parental and environmental influences we experienced. It is widely accepted that growing up around resilient individuals strengthens resiliency in ourselves. What is most important to know at present is we all have the ability to be resilient by practicing the core values we believe in. It is bouncing back from failure and disappointment that puts the spring in our step because it provides self-confidence to carry on.

“The American Psychological Association suggests “10 Ways to Build Resilience” are: * maintaining good relationships with close family members, friends and others * to avoid seeing crises or stressful events as unbearable problems * to accept circumstances that cannot be changed * to develop realistic goals and move towards them * to take decisive action in adverse situations * to look for opportunities of self-discovery after a struggle with loss * developing self-confidence * to keep a long-term perspective and consider the stressful events in a broader context * to maintain a hopeful outlook, expecting good things and visualizing what is wished * to take care of one’s mind and body, exercising regularly, paying attention to one’s own needs and feelings and engaging in relaxing activities that one enjoys. Learning from the past and maintaining flexibility and balance in life are also cited.” What is most important is to believe that you have the ability to be resilient, and to pursue the dreams you wish for. I genuinely believe we want to be the best we can be in all facets of our lives. We have all made mistake and we will make others along our life’s journey, but as Friedrich Nietzsche so simply stated, “That which does not destroy, strengthens.”, enjoy the strength in being you.

Blackberry Syndrome: Are We Losing Our Humaness


Is it me, or does it appear homo sapiens are physically regressing to the hunch backed ancestors they evolved from? Beware of Blackberry Syndrome for it is coming to a hand held, neck bending, posture slumping position near you. As the evolution of our species continues there may be a day when human beings will not be able to lift their heads because of their progressive obsession with phone text messaging and emailing. I am exaggerating of course, but I believe there are some social consequences with this obsession.

With my frequent business travels it is becoming more and more apparent that technology is taking over genuine human interaction. Personally, I have also fallen into the trap of ignoring what is going on around me because of my apparent need to communicate immediately. Although I have witnessed this trend previously, recently it appears to be accelerating exponentially. Every month a new gadget is presented in the market place that is more technologically phenomenal then it’s ancestor, which only increases the desire and necessity to keep up with those advancements. The new Apple iPad, the next generation iPod, and iPhone, the wave of new 3D movies, interactive video games, the speed and efficiency of our computers and search engines, the ever-expanding capability of the Internet, and the ability to literally wage war from an office chair are a smidgeon of examples in regard to the power of technology. The evolution and improvement in technology has provided countless benefits to our lives. It is a testament to the achievement and potential of the human mind and spirit. It has always existed, but the volume and speed of change is becoming increasingly unmanageable to keep up with. However, ignore it and you will become a fish out of water, have a business that is antiquated and a level of efficiency that is unacceptable.

In dissent, this constant necessity in our day-to-day lives to relate more to our machines rather than our fellow human beings will degrade what it means to be human. Email versus face-to-face, text message versus actual conversation, virtual rather than real, quantity versus quality of communication are just a few examples of what is becoming the norm. Are we losing our humanness? Humanness is a derivative of the word human and is defined as, “of or characteristic of people as opposed to God or animals or machines, of or characteristics of people’s better qualities, such as kindness or sensitivity.” I am not misguided enough to believe the cons of technology outweigh the pros. Technology has provided us the availability to be a global community and with it the opportunity, when utilized properly, to do wonderful things for mankind. My concern is the lessening of our ability to enjoy the challenge and wonderment of genuine human interaction. It is easier to mindlessly text something potentially irrelevant then it is to observe and experience the environment around you. I consistently see a decrease in the numbers of young people who effectively interact with an adult, or another person for that matter. Eye contact, effective listening skills, and the ability to speak and express oneself succinctly is critical to personal and professional success. A lack of personal interactive communication with others stifles emotional development in regard to relationships, and the ability to have genuine empathy towards others.

One of the keys to maintaining our humanness is to consistently develop our emotional intelligence quotient, or EQ. Although there are many varying definitions for EQ, there is a universal acceptance of it’s importance in regard to communication with others, leadership of others and effective management of one’s own emotions. Certainly IQ will assist in one’s acceptance to school and acquiring a job, but the value of one’s education and the fulfillment in one’s occupation will be the result of our humanness and our ability to implement our emotional intelligence quotient, our EQ. Inspire your children not only to achieve the “A” in school, but inspire them to achieve the “A” in life by effectively learning to communicate with peers, adults, teachers, coaches and business people alike. As we continue to proceed down a path of technology, let us not forget to enjoy the wonderful journey of what it means to be human.

Bringing the Best into Your Life


What do we attract into our lives and why? Are the people, and situations we attract positive or negative, healthy or unhealthy, respectful or abusive, humble or egotistical, selfless or self-centered? When was the last time you asked yourself, “Who are my circle of friends? Are they winners or whiners, kind or critical, giving or taking, tomorrow or yesterday thinking, thoughtful or thoughtless?” Do we project to others our own vulnerabilities, and subsequently attract those who we perceive can fix those vulnerabilities? When in fact those who we perceive can fix them actually possess similar or even more destructive vulnerabilities themselves. Do we allow and enable a repetitive pattern of relationships and friendships that consistently result in the same disappointments? What kind of outlet do we gravitate towards to relinquish not having to be responsible for repairing ourselves? Is that outlet one that invigorates us, or one that stagnates us? Does that outlet assist in breaking the pattern, or reinforcing the same old pattern?

Through the course of my life’s journey I have found reflecting and acting on these questions during periods of personal doubt to be extremely important and helpful. We all get caught up in the routine of life, but how often are we examining how healthy that routine may be? Am I hanging out with successful or oppressive people? We all know what the answers to the above questions should be, but what are your answers? I am asked frequently, “How do I break the patterns of behavior that reveal my weaknesses, vulnerabilities and lack of self-respect?”

The answer is, stop repeating the pattern. Granted, easier said then done, but the first step is to acknowledge a destructive pattern exists, and to recognize the characteristics that initiate the pattern to be repeated. This can be revealed by the status of your physical and emotional wellbeing. If a destructive pattern does exist, are you searching for a quick fix or working toward a durable repair to cope with those harmful behaviors? In regard to relationships, it is easier to attach to a person we believe possesses characteristics of what we are not, because it directs us away from having to take responsibility for our own insecurities. We also perceive it to be less stressful to repeat a relationship pattern of what we are used to, rather than constructing a new pattern based on the personal core values we truly believe in. In reality, this person likely increases stress and creates more anxiety because it provides erroneous justification to procrastinate in working on our own internal dysfunctions.

Emotionally we give ourselves permission to forego dealing with our own issues by putting priority on their issues. We also use their behaviors as an opportunity to validate our own value by enabling them, even if the behaviors are destructive in nature. We become falsely dependent on them to fix us, or enable their behavior to create a false sense of self-value. These behaviors tend to be ones we know, have experienced, or what we grew up with. Congratulations, and welcome to being codependent. Codependents Anonymous defines codependence as, “a tendency to behave in ways that negatively impact one’s relationships and quality of life. This behavior may be characterized by denial, low self-esteem, compliance, and/or control patterns.” Ouch! We are all codependent to varying degrees, and although these patterns can be deep rooted, who we bring into our lives will either fuel the destructive symptoms or help dissipate them.

We should all make an effort to hang out with emotionally healthy and optimistic people. Attract those in your life who are a positive force, not a debilitating one. Find those who you have common interests with and participate in events that reinforce the things and values you love. Reflect on the things and experiences that have brought the most happiness to you. The times were your joy and happiness were invalidated by others is not an excuse to live in misery, but an opportunity to reignite the passion for what inspires you to live. You teach best in life what you want to learn the most. Celebrate the joys you cherish and attract those who mutually share those similar joys.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

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