Be Brave Be Strong

4 Words

Have 4 words ever changed your life?

Those 4 words changed mine.

Be brave be strong were spoken to me by my father in 2022. I was a full year into grappling with a mysterious chronic illness.

Plot twist; my dad went to be with the Lord in 2001.

I was in an open field and a younger version of my dad came to speak to me. As dreams sometimes go, I had the awareness that it was a dream and that my dad was coming to tell me something…something very important.

I was ecstatic. “Daddy, I know you’re coming from heaven. What message did God send you to tell me?

With a heart full of hope I waited with bated breath to hear his response.

Much like a World War 2 Signal Corps Officer delivering a wartime message without any emotion he said those 4 words; “be brave be strong.” It was as if he was saying it to a fellow soldier, not to his only child.

I woke up yearning for more than just 4 words.

I wanted an answer to what I was facing.

I wanted instructions for healing.

I wanted to have my life back.

I Wanted More

Now a full year later, I have more. Even though I am not 100% free of the chronic illness, I have more of what I didn’t realize I needed:

More Faith

More Peace

More Resilience

That’s the theme of this blog series: Overcoming Pain through Resilience.

In today’s blog post, we will dive deep into the world of coping mechanisms to help you build resilience.

As you may know, coping skills are what we do to manage our emotions in the moment. Let’s start by exploring the difference between adaptive and maladaptive strategies, and how they shape our resilience.

Adaptive Coping Mechanisms

Consider adaptive coping mechanisms to be the unsung heroes of your emotional well-being. They are healthy tools that help you tackle life’s negative events. These healthy coping mechanisms allow you to feel empowered; and to take on whatever comes your way.

Choosing to utilize adaptive coping mechanisms comes with life-enhancing benefits.


  • Contribute to a sense of well-being
  • Increase levels of resilience
  • Enhance stress management
  • Help build emotional regulation
  • Decrease anxiety and mental health issues

All of these benefits give you a greater sense of calm and confidence while navigating the storms of life all the while enhancing resilience.

Let’s look at the flip side of the coin: maladaptive coping mechanisms.

Maladaptive Coping Mechanisms

If adaptive coping mechanisms are the unsung heroes of your well-being, maladaptive coping mechanisms are the notorious outlaws of your emotional well-being.

These coping mechanisms are counterproductive, elicit negative emotions, and come with damaging consequences.

Detrimental effects of maladaptive coping mechanisms are just that; detrimental to your wellbeing.


  • Lower your levels of resilience
  • Harm your emotional wellbeing
  • Detrimentally affect your relationships
  • Can potentially harm your mental health causing depression, anxiety, and stress

Examples of maladaptive coping mechanisms:

  • Venting
  • Procrastination
  • Shutting Down
  • Avoidance
  • Rumination

So how do you cultivate resilience in the face of adversity?

The answer is simple; embrace adaptive coping mechanisms and let go of the maladaptive ones.

It starts with awareness.  You want to cue yourself to recognize when you are slipping into old patterns of coping so you can pivot to the healthier alternatives mentioned below.

1. Become Solutions Oriented

Instead of getting bogged down by the issue at hand, roll up your sleeves and be proactive to find a way forward.

2. Humor

You have heard it said that laughter is the best medicine. Guess what? Research shows this proverb is true.

Laughter increases the brain’s production of endorphins. These feel-good chemicals relieve pain and reduce stress.

3. Breathing Exercises

There is power in the breath. Taking just a few moments to focus on your breath can instantly calm your racing mind and bring you back to the present moment. It’s a very easy yet effective way to hit your reset button.

4. Meditation and Visualization

Incorporating these mindfulness practices is like creating a mini sanctuary for your mind. You can meditate on quiet, peaceful thoughts or visualize desired future outcomes. Your brain will believe everything you tell it.

If it’s vivid enough in your mind, your body will follow.

All of these techniques not only help you cultivate peace they also give you much-needed clarity amid the storms of life.

Be Brave Be Strong

I wish that living with a chronic illness was a dream, a bad one, a nightmare at that.

However, truth be told I’ve grown in resilience and learned lessons that have allowed me to share this journey with you.

You see, this is not just my story. This is your story as well.

Hopefully, you will never face a chronic illness but we are all guaranteed to face trials, tribulations, and disappointments in life.

Having the mental tools to navigate the stormy seas of life arms you with the strength you didn’t know you had, a steadfastness you couldn’t get without the trial, and a resolve that is worth its weight in gold.

In Optimism,


Always remember – Nothing is Impossible

Rita Hudgens is a Mental Strengths Coach, with almost a decade of experience working with executives and entrepreneurs across the country. She is sought after as an Empowerment Coach, Speaker, and Group Facilitator because of the results people experience due to her coaching and training programs. 

Rita inspires, motivates, and challenges her clients to think and act differently to get the results they want.

Rita Hudgens
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