Gratefulness is essential. What are the things and people in your life who mean the most? Be intentional about thanking them because we are generally way more blessed than we acknowledge.
Resilience has been described as the ability to withstand adversity and bounce back from difficult life events. Times are not easy now. How do we develop greater resilience to withstand the challenges that keep being thrown at us? In this interview series, we are talking to mental health experts, authors, resilience experts, coaches, and business leaders who can talk about how we can develop greater resilience to improve our lives.
As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Brianna Gaynor.
Dr. Brianna Gaynor has been a Clinical Psychologist in Georgia. At her private practice, Peace of Mind Psychological Services, she has the honor of serving children, adolescents, and adults in identifying and treating mental illness. Her vision is to help clients find peace in every circumstance, which she achieves with the help of her incredible clinical and administrative team.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory?
I grew up in New Jersey as an only child. Since I can remember, I’ve always enjoyed helping others. My community was always important to me — my friends became my family. It sounds cliché, however, I recognized early that I am what some would call “a people person”. So when I had the chance to choose my career path, I thought psychology would be a great fit for me. I love the fact that I have the ability to change lives daily and I’m lucky I get to run my own show.
Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
The most interesting stories from my career come from clients. Over the past 10 years, my staff and I have experienced the gamete of lessons from practice. It may [or may not] go without saying in my line of work that we’ve had our share of kids yelling, upset parents, and crying. For example, we once had a client about 10 years of age, refuse to leave the car. Four adults attempted to talk to him out of the vehicle, each trying to get the child to come inside to discuss his issues in a safe space.
The child never got out of the car. We decided to pause and not complete the evaluation that day. The four adults needed to understand that any issues weren’t going to be resolved that day. However, we did get the child to calm down. No, pausing didn’t resolve what we needed at that moment. We adjusted to what the child needed at that moment instead. The end resulted in the parent feel supported in the moment as well because that parent dealt with this kind of behavior for some time in private and having the support of professionals gave her tools to use in the privacy of their own home to help calm the child in the future.
In hindsight (in that moment), the 10-year-old was actually running the show that day and the adults needed to pause, take a deep breath and hear the child out. We all want to feel heard and know that what we say matters. Listening, generally, goes a long way in defusing conflict.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
We genuinely care about the people we serve. That translates into taking extra time to listen to clients’ issues, providing resources for services we don’t provide, providing an honest assessment of their needs regardless of if Peace of Mind Psychological Services is providing the services or another provider. We are often thanked for earnestly listening and hearing them out. That’s our greatest strength. For instance, I love helping people learn more about themselves and improve their lives. The extra attention to detail is worth it because I get to support clients through their life journeys and that is worthwhile.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I am eternally grateful for my mother, Janice Cherry-Gaynor. She worked hard as an Emergency Room Nurse and loved her job dearly. Everyone who encountered her loved her as well. My mother was a true warrior. She was this compact powerhouse who battled a long-time illness, yet through her own struggles she showed me resilience through action; that we overcome by not giving up. If I could be half of who she is, it would be an honor.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the trait of resilience. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?
I’d define resilience as the ability to adapt well despite adversity. To be resilient is to learn how to deal with tragedy successfully. It requires more external than internal factors. Things like solid family relationships, a support system, a sense of purpose, and cultural pride help develop resilience. Although internal factors, like cognitive functioning or social skills, can also lead to resilience, the outside factors we have an opportunity to foster make the most significant difference.
Courage is often likened to resilience. In your opinion how is courage both similar and different to resilience?
Courage and resilience are identical in that they both require us to not give in to whatever pressures life gives us. Let’s face it, we all will and are going through struggles, and we are best served if we figure out how to deal with those struggles. Courage and resilience are different because courage involves pushing through some form of fear, while resilience results from a lack of fear.
Resilience also helps a person to cope with daily challenges, recover from disappointments, and recover from trauma. Building our level of resilience is very important to our overall wellbeing. Building resilience can help by:
- Helping you to identify risk factors that reduce resilience
- Helping you to develop realistic goals and solve problems
- Increasing the ability to cope with stressors, crisis, and negative emotions
- Improving interpersonal relationships
- Promoting self-awareness
- Helping to prevent maladaptive coping
- Facilitating recovery from substance use, trauma, and emotional distress
Resilience is a person’s ability to bounce back from complex situations. For example, during these uncertain times, many people fear being laid-off from work. Yet, resilience is your ability to find another job and manage life during the transition.
When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?
When I think of resilience, I immediately think of former President Barack Obama. He is a black man in America who made it to the highest office in the land. President Obama had to face discrimination and hate, yet he chose to display poise, kindness, and consistency in the face of adversity. He is a true example of what it looks like to not allow your circumstances or surroundings to define who you are.
Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?
I would say myself. I’m guilty of telling myself that owning a business was not in my wheelhouse. I feared the unknown and doubted myself. After many prayers and discussing my ambitions with friends who were in business or going into business for themselves helped.
If I have a goal I write down what do I need to do to achieve it. For the business (my practice), I needed to be able to have a vision of what I wanted it to look like and embody. I had to consider a few factors in building my businesses foundation. Facts like; Did I want to work alone or have a staff? What services would I be providing? What is the feeling or environment I wanted to create? Joining a consultation group where I learned what I needed to do and made the next steps seem doable was one of the best things I could have done during that time. Reason being, when you can see it and have a visual representation it can help you stay motivated to keep pushing because you see your vision coming to life. Remember that anything worth having is worth working for.
Did you have a time in your life where you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?
One of the greatest setbacks [in business] happened a few years ago. One of my highly sought-after therapists left my practice to pursue other endeavors. It was challenging to adjust for some time after (you can’t replace a gift like that), however, my practice has grown tremendously with equally as talented staff. I would not trade any of the lessons I have learned because it has made me a better leader and better at my job.
How have you cultivated resilience throughout your life? Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share a story?
I didn’t have a lot of family growing up in New Jersey. I had a lot of free time — I was a latch key kid who lived with a mother who, unfortunately, was in and out of the hospital. I remember taking the public bus as early as the age of six years old. I’d do my homework and do all the things/chores that were expected of me. I would stay at friends’ houses when my mother was in the hospital. A village of people helped take care of me. From early on, I think this is where my resilience lessons in life started. I learned to be self-reliant, make good friends, and be responsible. I also learned the value of caring for others by helping my mother throughout her illness. I realized I could handle a lot more than I had ever imagined.
Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone can take to become more resilient? Please share a story or an example for each.
Perspective impacts how we view the world around us. Focus on positive aspects rather than negative ones. Keeping a gratitude journal can help you look for the positives in life.
1. Take time to develop your values. What is important to you is kindness, perseverance, or faith. Focus on developing this skill in every area of life
2. Think of three words to describe who you are and want to be. Be intentional about those things. Do you want to be kind or consistent, then practice it now?
3. Gratefulness is essential. What are the things and people in your life who mean the most? Be intentional about thanking them because we are generally way more blessed than we acknowledge.
4. Focus on your relationships. Family and friends are blessings in your life, so pick up the phone or send a card. Life is way too short of having regrets.
5. What is a gift you have that others need? Are you an artist or a good writer? Share your gift with others because you never know who is waiting on you.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Demystifying the stigma of mental health! Even with all the progress we’ve made surrounding what mental health is, people are still ostracized for seeking mental health support. In order to maintain our physical, spiritual, mental, emotional, and social wellness, we need to engage intentionally. Acknowledging that wellness gives us a sense of balance in our lives. At times things may seem overwhelming, however, taking care of our whole self will help reduce the impact of negative life circumstances.
The truth is we can all use help. Why not seek help for your overall mental well-being. Overall wellness includes aspects of your Physical self, Emotional health, Spiritual health, Mental health, and Relational health.
We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them 🙂
I would love to have lunch with the incomparable songstress, India Arie. Her music inspires me and nourishes my soul. She is peace personified.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Visit my website at speaker website www.DrBriannaGaynor.com or my practice website at www.peaceofmindpsychology.com. You can also follow me on social media platforms at @drbriannagaynor on Instagram, @DrGaynorSays on Twitter @peaceofmindpsychology on Facebook and Instagram.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!