Righto, in the first part of my book I've shared loads of personal stories and we explore fear, failure, heartbreak, grief and even death, but now it's time to get to grips with what it means to really become bulletproof - to step into that space of becoming the captain of your own ship.
I think this might just be my favourite chapter of the book. And by the time you've finished reading it, I hope you'll not only have a better understanding of who you are but will also feel empowered, excited and ready to fearlessly step up to the plate and go after all that you wish to achieve in this life - whether that's improving your health, building and starting your own family, falling in love or choosing to step into the uncharted waters of going after your dream career.
But first things first, what makes someone bulletproof? And what does that even mean, anyway?
"Becoming bulletproof" is my mantra (it was even the working title for the book for quite some time) and something that my therapist regularly checks in with me about as it has become a goal of ours to help me navigate and hold my own in the cut-throat, often cruel and confronting media industry in which I work.
Now, I know it sounds like I'm painting a pretty gross picture of working in the media industry, but the truth is that, for all the glitz and glam, there's also a truckload of judgement - you are made very aware of the fact that you're replaceable and nobody holds back on sending criticism your way. I'm not going to lie to you, it's brutal. But in saying all that, I absolutely love working in this industry.
When I'm on set filming something time stops, nothing else matters and I'm 100 per cent focused on the task at hand. To me, the act of creating something through the medium of film that a human might watch and feel connected to - whether that's a segment on health or shooting a pilot hosting something that may not even be green-lit - fills my heart up and has done ever since I was 19 years old when I started filming my first ever digital online YouTube series on the Gold Coast. It's my jam, so working on myself to become bulletproof and steer my way around the roadblocks that crop up along the way allows me to do more of this thing that gives me the feeling of doing what I'm meant to be doing.
Now, although I fully acknowledge that this concept of becoming bulletproof can look and feel different for every single one of us, I do believe there are certain things it involves, like being confident, having your own back and knowing when to walk away, that are universal to all. It's also about having the guts to stand up for what you believe in, living true to yourself and owning who you are, fully, which means admitting when you're wrong, cutting through the BS and apologising when you know you need to. I think getting clear on all of this is such a powerful way of preparing your-self to take that next step in life, whatever the goal may be.
Resilience, hope and becoming bulletproof
Resilience and hope are a huge part of becoming bulletproof and are something I'm excited to talk about because I think they are key to realising your dreams, no matter how big those dreams might seem.
When I started researching resilience before writing this book I discovered Dr Lucy Hone, speaker, bestselling author and director of the New Zealand Institute of Wellbeing & Resilience. Dr Hone talks a lot about resilience (and, specifically, resilient grieving); she believes you can rise up from adversity and has given plenty of moving and insightful detail about the traits that resilient people have, as well as sharing her own story and experience of grief at the heartbreaking loss of her 12-year-old daughter Abby in a car accident. For Dr Hone:
- Resilient people know that suffering is part of life - they get that tough times happen. They don't welcome them in, they just know that when the tough times come that these are part of the human experience.
- Resilient people are really good at choosing carefully where they direct their attention. They have a habit of realistically appraising situations and managing to focus on the things they can change, and somehow accepting the things they can't.
- Resilient people ask themselves, "Is what I'm doing helping or harming me?"
Dr Hone also noted that resilient people have worked out a way of tuning into the good, something that is backed up by a movement in psychology called benefit finding, which encourages you to look for the positive aspects in life even when there may be other things happening that are not going so well (and let's face it, we all have these crop up). In the US Army they use a similar tool which they refer to as "hunting the good stuff" and it's an important part of their training to be able to look for the positive in any negative situation.
Whatever you call it, it's about finding things to be grateful for - switching attention to being able to focus on the good. Thinking of three good things that happened to you each day has been shown to lead to higher levels of gratitude, better sleep, happiness, better health, better relationships and less depression. Now this is the stuff that becoming bulletproof is made of!
But on its own, I'm not sure that resilience is quite enough.
We need to have hope, too. Now this might sound weird, but I think resilience and hope are best mates; they work so well together and each one feeds and helps build the scaffolding for the other.
Think about it. We need resilience, sure. We need to be able to take the hits (and often more than we'd like). But we also need to be able to get up and try again, too. And I believe this is where hope comes in. Holding hope for that spark inside your heart to catch fire will keep you moving forward and give you access to that drive you need to keep trying even when faced with failure and rejection - to keep taking the hits, to keep believing in something that only you believe in even when you don't feel like it.
Most people quit, but not the ones who have both these attributes: the hope that comes from believing in your dreams allied with the strength and backbone that comes with being resilient. Put these two together and you are really getting somewhere.
- This is an edited extract from Fearlessly Failing, by Lola Berry. Affirm Press. $29.99.