How to Get Back Up When Life Knocks You Down – Dr. Randall Bell

Many of us experience setbacks and get knocked down from time to time, whether it be rejection in business or a global pandemic. As life and the pandemic continue it’s important to understand that you can get back up and succeed in today’s environment. 

On today’s show, we’re pleased to welcome back ‘The Master of Disaster’ aka Dr. Randall Bell, socio-economist, CEO of Landmark Research Group, and author of many books including his latest titled Post-Traumatic Thriving: The Art, Science and Stories of Resilience.

Transcription:

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Dr. Randall Bell, thank you so much for joining us once again on the show.

Dr. Randall Bell:
Jim, it’s a pleasure to see you again. Thank you.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Sure. So talk to us a little bit about Post-Traumatic Thriving. That is a great title, and I’m sure that’s a book that’s getting picked up quite often these days, right? Since we’ve all been sucker-punched by this crazy pandemic. So what do you want the reader to leave with?

Dr. Randall Bell:
Well, the idea of the book is to lay out the three stages of trauma. There’s the dive stage where you get knocked down, the survive stage, Jim, where you get back on your feet. But really what I’ve noticed in studying disasters since the 1980s is there’s a certain segment of the population. And once they get knocked down, they not only get back on their feet and go from dive to survive, but they go to thrive. It’s as if the trauma woke them up and they tap into that fuel and they’re doing remarkable things. So I really studied that phenomena for about 10 years. And I thought to myself, “If people have a roadmap or a blueprint, they can do the same thing that others do.” It’s pretty common.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s right. That’s right. And a lot of us right now because of the pandemic, have been knocked down. Right? I mean, I’m sure that you’re probably getting calls from companies to say, “Help us get the attitude of our associates back up again to where it needs to be and headed in the right direction,” right?

Dr. Randall Bell:
Well, absolutely. And the thing about COVID is that, I mean, I spent half of last year recovering from COVID, so it’s a very real thing. I’ve personally lived it. But the thing is that recovering from whether it be COVID or the death of a loved one or a disease, a death, a divorce, drug addiction, they all seem to start with Ds. The process is remarkably similar, even though the traumas themselves can be very diverse. There’s a formula for success and there’s great science. That’s the really remarkable thing, Jim, is that there’s great science to really get us through these tough times.

Dr. Randall Bell:
Yeah. From your standpoint, what is trauma I should say typically look like after a disaster?

Jim Fitzpatrick:
It’s a really individual thing. For example, some people might go through heart surgery and they recover. It’s not a big deal. Other people might not only go through that, but really get knocked down emotionally from the whole ordeal or pick anything. And so trauma is anything where after two or three months, we’re really having trouble getting back on track. We’re depressed or self-medicating any of these things we turn to workaholism. Anything that’s throwing life out of balance, trauma knocks us all down, but if it’s lingering longer, it’s time to really take some action and really address it head on.

Dr. Randall Bell:
Right. Are you finding that people that do get knocked down, they get back up and as you say, they thrive because they’ve been through the trauma in their life and they say, “Hey, I made it.” I mean, for many right now who are saying, “Well, I didn’t get COVID or if I did,” and as in your case, very unfortunate, but now you’re on the other side of it. And you say, “I went through it, I made it. And now I’m stronger than ever.”

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Yeah. And with that strength comes a lot of empathy because having lived it, when I hear about people going through it, I don’t need to imagine what they’re going through. I have a higher degree of empathy, and that’s really one of the nice, I don’t know if that’s the right word, nice things about trauma, but it’s a beneficial aspect of trauma to where our awareness, our empathy goes up. Our productivity can go up if we take the right steps.

Dr. Randall Bell:
Sure. Sure. A friend of mine was pretty much down in the dumps and he went through a divorce, then he lost a child. Then he went through COVID, his business is suffering in a very big way. What do you tell an individual that has just a series of traumas in their life? One after another, that’s seems like it’s chained together and every time you get back up, he’s getting knocked back down on something.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Yeah. I’m sorry to hear that about your friend, Jim, but the reality is, and I talk about it in the book. This is called layered trauma. There’s no rule that says we only get one trauma at a time. Sometimes it comes in waves and we don’t even get our breath from the last wave and another wave cracks on top of us. The process looks like this. The thing that I prescribe or really encourage people to do right out of the gates are two. What I call the dynamic duo. The first one is, deep breathing exercises. It comes from Buddhism, but I’m not talking a religious exercise here. We’re talking about science that comes from Sara Lazar out of Harvard Medical School, deep breathing, whether you call it yoga or meditation, or I don’t care what you call it, but deep breathing resets the parasympathetic sympathetic nervous system, and really brings a sense of calm.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
It really works. You can actually measure your blood pressure decrease from deep breathing exercises. And then the other thing, Jim is find somebody you can talk to, trauma recovery is not a solo exercise. You got to find a trusted person, preferably a licensed therapist or a trauma coach and get the discussion going. That really relieves the stress as well. Those two things right off the bat can help your friend and help anybody that apply those simple techniques.

Dr. Randall Bell:
Yeah. Fantastic. There’s no question about it. I know that our listeners are probably making those notes right now because there’s always times in your life that you’re just like, “What’s going on? How am I going to make it through this?” And I have actually tried the deep breathing exercises and it does work. There’s no question about it. Just resets you and it does work. If you had to pick one mistake that people make after experiencing a trauma, what would it be?

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Classic mistake is don’t talk about it, bottle it inside. You may look okay on the outside for years, but inside there’s an internal war and that is never a happy ending with that scenario. Finding that right person to say, “Hey, I’m feeling this, I’m feeling that,” you can be really honest about it rather than baling it inside. That is the classic mistake people make. It’s made all the time. I made it myself. I had open heart surgery when I was 11 years old as a little kid, the doctors patted me on the back and said, “Go have a good life kid.” They had physically repaired my heart problem. But I didn’t realize until I met a cardiologist in my ’50s that I had bottled it inside and my blood pressure and all kinds of things were out of whack. So I had to apply these techniques myself and I’ve made a remarkable recovery, so I’m not immune from the same thing myself. And that was a classic mistake.

Dr. Randall Bell:
Yeah, for sure. You got to talk about it. I mean, irregardless of how bad these things are, someone else has probably gone through something very similar. Right? And can help you through it. And even if they haven’t, just getting it out. Just vaporizing it, it means a lot, right?

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Yeah. Absolutely Jim. And what we’re talking about are really simple things. This is not hard stuff, it’s very simple, but it has profound results if we actually apply it. One of the problems is to convince people just because it’s simple, they want some more elaborate formula for success. The formula is actually very simple, but there’s solid science behind it. That’s trying to get that message through sometimes takes some effort.

Dr. Randall Bell:
Yeah. Boy, that’s for sure. Well, Dr. Randall Bell, I want to thank you so much for joining us once again on The Atlanta Small Business Show, we’re going to show all of the information on how to connect, to get the book. We highly recommend it. This is a must read, especially for times like now, in fact it’s a book for everyday. And even when we get beyond COVID-19, there’s going to be something else that comes up in our lives that we’ve got to deal with. So doctor, thank you so much for joining us once again. I really appreciate it.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Hey, Jim, great to see you. Thanks.

Dr. Randall Bell:
Great.


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