Cultivate self-compassion & kindness: human beings can only grow and change when they feel unconditionally loved and accepted as they are. You won’t get very far if you’re sitting in judgement over yourself or using shame as a motivator. Part of self-compassion is processing your emotions healthily. Acknowledge them, don’t stuff them down, ignore or over-identify with them. Grieve if you need to. Grief is painful & difficult but the entire process is, in my opinion anyway, like a springboard into transformation and resilience.
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 Lauren da Silva.
Lauren da Silva has two great loves: human beings & learning. As such, she is always finding ways to channel her love into her passion: Making true human flourishing as accessible to as many people as possible.
As a recovering people-pleaser and co-dependent, she knows first-hand how dangerous and limiting it can be to sit in the backseat of your own life while allowing other people, the status quo or even the culture around you to take the wheel of your life and/or your life’s mission.
That is why she is on a mission to inspire and equip as many women as possible to not just flip the script they’re living (or feeling trapped in), but to re-imagine and re-write it completely.
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?
Of course! I am a South African who immigrated to the US (Waco, Texas) with my husband and two small children under the age of 3, with nothing but two suitcases each, just over five years ago! I grew up in a small industrial town just south of Johannesburg, and ended up living between there and Joburg after my parents separated when I was 10. I have a bachelor’s degree in social work and have also worked in full-time pastoral ministry since I graduated high school. When we moved here, I worked at a non-profit called World Hunger Relief for two years before having our third child, after which I decided to stay home and eventually, to start my own business so that I could a) make a living doing what I love and b) enjoy a little more flexibility that I would being employed or working for someone else.
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?
One of my favorite or deeply embedded life lessons that I’ve learnt from my career so far, is one of the experiences that led to us choosing to move abroad. I was working for a local church and was finding myself feeling increasingly frustrated and out of sync with the leadership there. I loved what I did but was feeling more and more conflicted internally as well as within the working environment. That conflict was mostly due to me trying to control the actions of other people, my inability to accept what was happening and making decisions in terms of what I could or should have been controlling (myself).
My ‘aha’ moment was during a leadership meeting in which I finally recognized that there was no way I could proceed with that organization without hurting my health or integrity. I needed to leave.
At that moment I had to choose between familiarity & comfort, and authenticity & integrity. It was one of the hardest and scariest decisions I have ever made. However, It helped me learn an important lesson in terms of leadership, what it means to be a good team player, boundaries and integrity. It was also what I like to call a “domino decision”, leading to a series of big, scary decisions that ultimately changed the trajectory of my life.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
What makes The Flourish Hub different, is that it exists and is there for the trailblazers before they even realize that they are in fact, trailblazers. It exists for heart-centered female entrepreneurs, who are creating new legacies for their families and carving new paths for themselves as women as they embark on their entrepreneurship journeys. It is a personal development hub that solves professional problems.
Many of us describe ourselves as having no idea what normal is. Many of my clients are second generation trauma or dysfunctional childhood survivors with no real benchmark for normalizing their challenges. This makes motherhood, marriage, even adulting frustrating and disorientating, even outside of the enormous amount of self-awareness and personal development required to run the race of entrepreneurship.
My mission is to hold space for, grow a community with, as well as create and share resources that empower and encourage these women in their own personal development journeys and impart this same development to their families.
I am thinking of Mary* who, through learning more about boundaries, was able to deal with resentment and burnout creeping into her coaching business (that was getting so bad that she was considering closing it down), who not only is doing better than ever, but has also been able to turn her healthy boundaries into a number of additional streams of income!
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 indebted to so many people that it’s tough to narrow this answer down to just one. Right now, I am so thankful for my mentor & coach, Martha Krejci. I started working with her when I realized that most of my plans for my life weren’t going to work out how I had expected. I was in a really dark place and felt like everything I had hoped and dreamed my life would become, was dead and buried. I had signed up for one of her programs expecting to find the means to “settle” and just move on without feeling like a total failure. What I experienced instead and what I ended up with was more like a resurrection and a reinvention of those hopes and dreams.
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 define resilience as the increasing willingness and ability to just keep going.To keep getting up after you’re knocked down.
I believe that resilient people are persistent, determined, brave, flexible and intentional.
Courage is often likened to resilience. In your opinion how is courage both similar and different to resilience?
I think that courage is an essential ingredient of resilience. So, if you’re making a taco, for example, courage is going to be the tortilla. I don’t think you can be resilient without being courageous at the same time, but it’s not the only component involved.
When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?
The first person that came to mind wasn’t any singular person, but people… specifically children.
Children are to me, the epitome of resilience. They are by nature curious with voracious appetites for learning. They’re extremely flexible and adaptable and they are for better or for worse, survivors.
I have learnt that while I am unique in that I am an individual with a story that’s unique to me, I know that I am not alone in my struggles or suffering. Every single person we encounter has done whatever they’ve needed to, or knew to do to survive, to make it this far.
Some of the ways we make it through turn out to be extremely maladaptive and painful later in life, but one of the ways that helps me practice empathy and self-compassion, is to appreciate our idiosyncrasies as symbols of our resiliency. The challenge as we enter into adulthood I believe, is to adapt further, and choose healthier, more helpful ways of surviving. To exercise and use those residency muscles for our best benefit, and hopefully help our own children to do the same.
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 think that our move to and life in the US represents an impossible journey to so many people. We sold everything we had, maxed out 2 or 3 credit cards, and moved with 8 suitcases worth of belongings where we knew no-one and had no family or support system. We were told we were crazy to leave everything we ever knew, and looking back on it, we probably were a little crazy!
We had to rebuild our lives, finances, our support network/village, and adjust to a whole new culture/way of life. It was HARD. It took me about 4 years to fully process our decision and transition out of grief, culture shock, and some unresolved PTSD that was triggered by the stress of the move… But we did it. We are living a life that I don’t even think I was able to conceive or imagine a decade ago.
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 my life’s greatest setbacks was when I realized that my plan to attend graduate school was going to fall through. At first, I was miserable and felt really hopeless and disorientated. In the end, I had to accept the change for what it was, process my disappointment appropriately and ultimately choose to reimagine my own plans for the future. One of the most important things I did was to surround myself with the right people. I had been on pretty much the same career path since I was 19, even our move to the US hadn’t presented too drastic of a change. Being surrounded by other women also reimagining their futures and mentors who had gone ahead of me was life changing in that I could borrow the expertise and confidence I needed 🙂 Not even the pandemic, quarantine, and becoming a home-schooler overnight was able to shake my optimism and hope in the future.
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 believe that love of learning, combined with a childhood that pushed me in the direction of independence and needing to rely on myself has been a huge asset to me in the long run. I have always approached every challenging situation I’ve faced with the belief that “I can figure out how to get through this”… and so even if I am aware that I don’t have the skills or knowledge that I need in any given situation, I believe in my ability to find it.
I think my parents divorce and how it affected my childhood has played a huge role in me needing to be resilient. It probably developed my ability to be resilient way before I was capable of developing it consciously.
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.
- Choose courage & the path of discomfort. Courage is a choice, and choosing courage can become a habit, but it’s not necessarily a personality type :P. Courage is the pathway to resilience, and eventually confidence in whatever is new, difficult and different right now.
- Accept life/reality for what it is, you can’t adjust to anything you aren’t prepared to acknowledge.
- Cultivate self-compassion & kindness: human beings can only grow and change when they feel unconditionally loved and accepted as they are. You won’t get very far if you’re sitting in judgement over yourself or using shame as a motivator. Part of self-compassion is processing your emotions healthily. Acknowledge them, don’t stuff them down, ignore or over-identify with them. Grieve if you need to. Grief is painful & difficult but the entire process is, in my opinion anyway, like a springboard into transformation and resilience.
- Stay Connected to other humans. Cultivate a community around you that can be an extension of courage, honesty, compassion, kindness, unconditional love and emotional safety. Be that for other people too.
- Adopt a posture of humility, flexibility, curiosity and learning. Once you believe that you can learn, practice and master new things or new behaviors, you can adapt to anything. The good news is that we were built for adaptation and learning, we just need to do our part and lean into, and exercise those parts of ourselves.
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. 🙂
Oh man, where do I start? I would LOVE for there to be more intentional action around how divisive and unhelpful political ‘dialogue’ has become. We have lost the ability to engage one another with curious humility and as a result, are breaking our communities and nation rather than building or strengthening them.
I believe that a movement in which people learn how to listen, engage and understand one another, as well as work together is needed now more than ever.
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 am wondering if I could be totally opportunistic and say, I would love nothing more than to enjoy a group breakfast with Brene Brown (she gave language to what I believed about being human, and being human with other humans in a way that gave me and the work I would like to do in the world, a philosophical home), Simon Sinek (I just love how he sees purpose, vocation & leadership and the impact he is making in that arena), Oprah Winfrey (I would love to talk to her about her thought life & mindset, and thank her for the work she is doing in and for my home country), and Elon Musk (I would love to talk to him about his capacity for ‘visioneering’, and the future).
How can our readers further follow your work online?
www.laurendasilva.org/pages/links should direct anyone to wherever they want to go 🙂
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!