The Resilient Woman: Mastering the 7 Steps to Personal Power

The Resilient Woman: Mastering the 7 Steps to Personal Power

by Patricia A. O'Gorman Ph.D.


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780757317095
Publisher: Health Communications, Incorporated
Publication date: 03/05/2013
Pages: 312
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Patricia O'Gorman, PhD, a psychologist in private practice in Albany, and Saranac Lake, New York, is noted for her work on women, trauma, and substance abuse and for her warm, inspiring, and funny presentations that make complex issues accessible and even fun. She has served as a consultant to organizations in preventative and clinical strategic planning. Dr. O'Gorman is a cofounder of the National Association for Children of Alcoholics, and she has held positions ranging from clinical director of a child welfare agency to interim director of a crime victims organization to director of the division of prevention for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). She is a veteran of numerous television appearances, including Good Morning America, Today, and AM Sunday. She is the coauthor of Healing Trauma Through Self-Parenting: The Codependency Connection, The Lowdown on Families Who Get High, 12 Steps to Self-Parenting for Adult Children, 12 Steps to Self-Parenting Workbook, Teaching About Alcohol, and Breaking the Cycle of Addiction, as well as numerous articles in magazines, including Addiction Today, Counselor, and Recovery. To learn more, visit

Read an Excerpt


When I wrote the original version of this book, my twin sons were just learning to read. One day I was dashing around the house, and they knew I was preparing to give a talk, so I guess they picked up on my tension. From the wisdom born of children, they asked me if I was going to begin with a joke; 'You need to be funny,' they told me earnestly. They disappeared for a while, then a little later they proudly presented me with a joke cut out from Ranger Rick and taped, with lots of tape, on to a big piece of paper. They were in the 'Why did the chicken cross the road' stage of humor, and the joke they picked was perfect for a talk on resilience. It went: Why couldn't the skeleton cross the road? The punch line: It had no guts.

Many things have changed since that day. My children are now adults; women face increasingly varied challenges; but one thing that hasn't changed is women's lack of focus in developing and using their resilience. So with this in mind, I began to think about revising and updating my book, Dancing Backwards in High Heels, with an eye toward bringing into sharper focus the strategies for developing resilience and overcoming the obstacles we face in doing so. What I thought would be a revision became a rewritten book and led me to develop seven clearly defined steps for women to use in mastering their personal power.

Guts are still the essence of resilience. Resilience is about having guts—having courage born of learning from life's hard lessons and understanding how to take positive actions using this powerful inner resource. Resilience is all about learning to step into our strengths.

Buying a book on developing resilience may seem a little redundant for a twenty-first-century woman. We're all resilient, aren't we? So you may be thinking, If I knew I needed a book on resilience, I'd know enough to not have to buy the book. But that's not quite true either. I'm reminded of a sign I saw in my gym: They told me to wear loose clothes. But if I had loose clothes, I wouldn't have to join.

So what gets in the way of tapping into this part of ourselves? What keeps us from using what we know to help us bounce back when we run headlong into adversity? I finally found a simple term for this liability: girly thoughts. Our girly thoughts are those society-informed limiting thoughts and images of who we are, what we are capable of, what we are good for, how we should look, and how we should act, and they promise the rewards we will get if we are the good girl. They are reinforced by our families and friends and intensified by our personal experiences with trauma and we have so internalized them that we are not even aware that we are using them to define ourselves.

However, labeling these persuasive forces is not meant to trivialize either their effect on us or the seriousness with which we took them to heart. Using a lighthearted term is not meant to demean us for falling under their sway. Rather, calling them girly thoughts is a way of making them accessible and help us wrap our minds around this concept so we can consciously counter their incredible control over us and begin to claim our own power of self-definition.

So, what exactly is resilience? As defined by Oxford Dictionary Online, it is an ability to recover quickly from or adjust easily to misfortune or change. Resilience is something we all have to some degree, sometimes not as much as we would like, but it is in there somewhere, and it is certainly something we can cultivate. When we consciously focus on our strengths, our inner tempos and rhythms, we can more naturally hear our inner solutions for determining our best course of action. We find that those assets that we often take for granted form into another quality that is greater than the sum of its parts: our resilience. To begin to focus on our resilience involves:

  • claiming our personal strengths, our personal battle scars if you will, that come from our tangles with life's challenges;
  • learning how to consciously use this inner force;
  • understanding how to turn up the volume of this part of ourselves and listen to our inner wisdom speaking to us; and
  • embracing our ability to grow this significant capacity within us.

So it is not just a question of whether we are resilient or not, but how we optimize this quality within us—and this requires some creativity as well as vision, grit (Duckworth et al. 2012), and ownership. And our reward is an expanded sense of who we are. Just think how it would feel to walk around with a smile on your face as you think of yourself as a resilient, gritty woman.

Why is resilience so important for women? It is all too common for women to doubt our abilities, to see nothing extraordinary or powerful about ourselves, to be more focused on what we have to do, what's wrong with how we look, to ignore the push and pulls we feel in our bodies, to ignore our needs (including our sexual needs), and even our feelings. Yet if we stop for a moment to take a breath and consider how much we actually accomplish each day, the many roles we play, and the distances we travel, we may see quite another view of ourselves.

This other view can literally change our lives. It lifts us from the limited sense of who we are that focuses on how much we can endure to one where we realize that, despite all we have to do, we can still notice what we need. This awareness opens the door to allowing us to love and care for ourselves. And we can begin to do this increasingly on our own terms with the goal of leading the lives we've envisioned for ourselves. This process begins through aligning ourselves with our strengths, recognizing and owning our incredible personal power, and deciding where to use it, including (for some of us) to give to not only ourselves but also to others. Our endurance model now becomes a self-care model.

The Conscious Use of Resilience

The fact is that most of us underestimate the degree of strength and flexibility our lives require on a daily basis. We focus instead on our unfinished tasks, pushing ourselves harder while we simultaneously ignore our self-nurturing. To do what seems like the impossible task of taking care of ourselves, we need to be reminded of our own power from time to time, as my own mother—a competitive ballroom dancer in her golden years—did when she told me on more than one occasion that while Fred Astaire received top billing, 'Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did. And she just did it backwards and in high heels, and slimmed down in the process.'

So even though we are most successful in life when we can achieve a balance between our two vital sources of strength—self and other—achieving this can be quite a challenge. It requires us to use all of who we are and dares us to be in touch with our own desires and our own needs. How to do this? The Resilient Woman: Mastering the 7 Steps to Personal Power offers you a comprehensive, practical, step-by-step guide to understanding your own resilience and to consciously expanding its role in everyday life through learning how to combat those girly thoughts. This is a process you can do at your own pace and will not take a lot of time that you don't have. I will help you learn to think differently about yourself, begin to listen to your needs and wants, start to nurture yourself, and learn very simple experiments to try out different ways of taking care of what you need within yourself and with others.

I've done this through creating simple assessments and seven steps designed for daily use. The steps in Part Two are designed to bring out the best in you—your resilience—by helping you develop strategies to build your resilience consciously. These include having you consider solutions that you used in the past that could be dusted off and used today, considering yourself in a new light as a resilient woman by challenging some of your existing attitudes about yourself, those girly thoughts, and learning some new skills. I will do this through:

  • Helping you use your natural qualities, such as curiosity and creativity,
  • Showing you how to make space within your life to perfect the art of really listening to yourself instead of all the external messages that bombard you,
  • Guiding you in setting helpful boundaries,
  • Encouraging you to free yourself to take risks while thinking positively, and
  • Helping you learn how to develop the gift of gratitude in your life, and experiencing the joy that comes from living in the safety of the life you have created.

©2013. Patricia O'Gorman, PhD. All rights reserved. Reprinted from The Resilient Woman. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442.

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The Resilient Woman: Mastering the 7 Steps to Personal Power 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
MyBookAddictionandMore More than 1 year ago
The Resilient Woman is a great read that offers a way to uncover strengths woman have. It shows how our “girly thoughts’ get in the way and how we can overcome. I found it an incredible resource with many tools to help us regain our power as more often than not, we give it away as we go through life. It is usually when we go through a crisis that we use this resilience and we see the strength we do have. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and definitely learned a lot and will put into practice the knowledge I have gained. Rating: 4 Reviewed by: KellyR Courtesy of My Book Addiction and More