At The Soundingboard, we believe that every story matters. As part of our commitment to building a supportive community and network for survivors, we will be hosting a monthly book club. We hope that the book club will allow us to collaborate and find comfort in each other’s opinions as we gain understanding from someone else’s story.
To kick off the first month of the Soundingboard Book Club, we have selected Option B, by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant. Option B is about more than loss, it is about our capacity to effectively support others, and strives to empower each of us to ask for and accept the kind of help we need during crisis. Sheryl Sandberg uses her unique voice to tell the story about her experience following the sudden death of her husband. She is raw, passionate and honest in sharing her story – the perfect combination for connecting intimately with her words, and processing how you can apply them to your own story and healing process.
For those of you that are personally struggling, or in a position to support a loved one who is grieving, experienced trauma, or just working to find Option B; I highly recommend this book! Read and participate at your own pace - like your story, your opinion matters!
We would love to hear how Option B has impacted you!
So, let’s dive in…
Here are our favorite takeaways from the first three chapters:
#1. We can build resilience.
With the support of Adam Grant, Sheryl’s friend and co-author of the book, Sheryl learns that resilience has nothing to do with backbone. It is more than our ability to simply endure, or “grin and bear” the challenges in our life. Instead, “resilience is the strength and speed of our response to adversity.” As a former athlete, strength and speed are two words I understand. Suddenly, resilience is a muscle – something that can be exercised and strengthened over time. The idea that we can better equip ourselves to confront and overcome the adversity in our lives is a powerful tool.
What are some ways you currently or plan to start strengthening your resilience muscle?
#2. Martin Seligman’s Three P’s: Personalization, Pervasiveness and Permanence
a. Personalization- the belief that we are at fault.
b. Pervasiveness- the belief that an event will affect all areas of our life.
c. Permanence- the belief that the aftershocks of the event will last forever.
Sheryl speaks to ways acknowledging the power of the three P’s helped her cope, and support her children with profound grief. During th
e immediate response to tragedy – the feeling of complete despair and loss, as if it is not going to get better, is a common feeling. Reminding ourselves (and believing others when they remind you) that the event is not our fault, is crucial to the healing process. It is natural to feel that an event has taken over all areas of your life, especially an event like sexual assault! Following an assault, there is a period where it is difficult to connect emotionally, mentally, spiritually, sexually etc. BUT, here is the key to the 3 P’s while the pervasive feeling is possible, and real – it is only temporary. We have to remember that while the event may change us, the aftershocks will not last forever.
Have you ever found yourself in the Three P‘s trap? What are some strategies you used to break the cycle?
#3. Kick the Elephant out of the room.
Sheryl finds herself struggling to connect with family, friends and co-workers following the death of her husband. She speaks to the challenge of maintaining relationships with “non-questioning friends” and the severe isolation she felt when her close friends and co-workers did not acknowledge what she went through/ might be going through. With the support of Adam, Sheryl challenges her co-workers at Facebook to start asking “How are you doing today?” Sheryl notes that by saying today, we acknowledge in a small, but significant way that we are aware someone is struggling and every day brings new challenges.
On the flipside, Sheryl shares that she had to learn that when people did start putting aside their own discomfort to kick the elephant out of the room, and ask questions; she needed to be willing and open to answering them. With each relationship there is a different level of candor, but it is so important that we respect ourselves enough to be honest about how we are doing. Sheryl found that in most cases those around her were grateful for her honesty, because they now understood where she was coming from and were better able to support her. More importantly, she was relieved to not perpetuate the self-isolation of secrecy.
Have you ever struggled to confront the elephant in the room (in a grieving and/or supportive role)? How did you respond? Were you able to kick the elephant out of the room? If so, what worked?
#4. Do not put the burden on the person grieving to tell you how to help. Do something.
This is a huge one. I have definitely found myself, with the best of intentions, saying “let me know how (if) I can help.” Instead, we need to show up in small or big ways and act.
What are some ways you have shown up for someone in the past?