As we head toward Thanksgiving, a period in the United States associated with giving thanks and being grateful, I have a challenge for you. I want you to think back and identify a person, or, if you are lucky, persons, who helped you weather tough times or manage the emotional turbulence of a painful or difficult experience. This individual might be a school teacher, coach, relative or parent, or it might be someone you’ve never actually met but whose music or life story helped you take that first step toward believing in yourself.  You may have to reach way back to find this person but they will be there. When you identify them just spend a moment to say, “thanks for showing up when I most needed someone in my corner”, and be grateful that you were able to accept the gift of acceptance and belief they had to offer.

The truth is, since its inception as a legitimate form of research, the red thread running through study after study of resilience has been the role others play in helping us activate this innate skill. The fact is that you are more likely to be able to engage with adversity or seize that opportunity if you have a significant other in your corner who believes in you and your potential. Having a Very Close Other or VCO in a child’s life will help him or her cope with abuse, war and poverty. Similarly community based studies from 9/11 to Katrina show people bring their best when others are experiencing their worst.

This November take time to reflect on your VCO’s. Give thanks and be grateful; they helped you get to where you are. As a bonus, maybe it’s time to recognize how you can help activate the resilience of someone, and know what, maybe you already are.

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