I’ve Experienced a Lot of Adversity in My Life: What Can I Do to Remain Optimistic?

BY: - 3 May '16 | inspiration

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Hey Dr. B,

I have been going through some things in my personal life, and I do not know how to move on. I work very hard to remain positive and upbeat, but I have experienced a lot of adversity in my life. I was abused as a child, abandoned by my mother who used drugs and even experienced homelessness at one time. My mind is a mess. However, I keep pushing on because God has provided for me through the tough times. I have a heart of God and feel blessed because I am still breathing. Nevertheless, sometimes I still find it difficult to remain optimistic. With such turmoil in my life, what can I do to remain optimistic?

Thanks in advance,

A Blessed Man


Dear Blessed Man,

The short answer to your question is to continue what you are doing, which is engaging in resilient thinking. You stated, “My mind is a mess, however, I keep pushing on because God has provided for me through the tough times. I have a heart of God and feel blessed because I am still breathing.” This is resilient thinking at its best.

Resilient thinking is the cognitive ability to identify and embrace realistic and optimistic thoughts that promote growth and forward progression after facing adversity. Resilient thinkers believe that experiencing adversity and/or misfortune is unavoidable at times. But seeing it for what it is and facing it with a positive attitude is the most effective way of coping with it. Resilient thinkers do not dread adversity because they view it as a pathway to succeeding in life, love and relationships. They also believe that opportunity can be found in hardship, and they understand how they perceive their situations will either propel them to a life of greatness or a life of despair. Resilient thinking enables individuals to operate out of faith and positions them to cope with vulnerability with confidence and hope.


As a resilient thinker, I often tell myself that I cannot control or change things that occur outside of my Resilient Zone (cognitive processing and coping); therefore, I have to create desirable outcomes through my thoughts before I take action.

Like you, I have been through some things in my life. In reflecting on my life journey, I realized that I have experienced a great deal of adversity. Listed below are eleven personal hardships that caused me a great deal of distress, but they also contributed to me becoming a resilient thinker.

  • The beginning. I was born into poverty and raised in the ghetto by my single-parent mother.
  • At age 7. I was teased daily by my peers because I had a speech impediment and repeated the second grade as a result of performing poorly in school.
  • At age 8. I was shot in the arm by my mother’s ex-boyfriend while riding in a car.
  • At age 10. I saw a local drug dealer gunned down as I walked home from school.
  • At age 17. I loss my single-parent mother to her battle with cancer.
  • At age 18. I fell asleep at the steering wheel and totaled my car while driving to college my fresh year.
  • At age 19. I was robbed at gun point in broad daylight after visiting the library in downtown St. Louis while on summer break from college.
  • At age 21. I attended my 17-year-old nephew’s funeral after he was gunned down while walking home from the store. No arrest was made.
  • At age 22. I received a phone call informing me that one of my close friends was murdered during an attempted robbery.
  • At age 23. I attended my 34-year-old cousin’s funeral after he was accidentally shot by one of my nephews.
  • At age 24. I received a phone call informing me that another close friend was shot and killed during an attempted robbery.

When asked how did I overcome poverty and my personal hardships to become a successful doctor, psychotherapist, military office and an entrepreneur who earns more than $100,000 annually? I humbly reply: I learned and embraced the power of resilient thinking. Engaging in resilient thinking helped me make lasting change in my life and has empowered me to continue to successfully navigate through life, love and relationships.

Like myself, you are a warrior and I am glad to hear that you realize that breathing is a blessing. Every day you wake up, you get another opportunity to create the life you desire.

Please visit my website: drbuckingham.com and consider purchasing a copy of my book entitled, Resilient Thinking: The Power of Embracing Realistic and Optimistic Thoughts about Life, Love and Relationships. My book contains personal quotes/sayings that I created and used on a daily basis in order to help me exchange a lifestyle filled with hardship, disappointment and dread with a lifestyle filled with favor, satisfaction and confidence. The quotes ignite positive self-talk and resilient thinking.

As you continue on your journey and strive to find positivity in your life, remember the following:

“Resilient people find solutions in problems. In contrast, troubled people find problems in every solution.”

Best regards,

Dr. Buckingham

If you have questions for Dr. Dwayne Buckingham regarding relationships (married, single, etc), parenting, or personal growth and development, please send an email to askdrbuckingham@gmail.com

Disclaimer: The ideas, opinions and recommendations contained in this post are not intended as a substitute for seeking professional counseling or guidance. Any concerns or questions that you have about relationships or any other source of potential distress should be discussed with a professional, in person. The author is not liable or responsible for any personal or relational distress, loss or damage allegedly arising from any information or recommendations in this post.

 BMWK, are you a resilient thinker?

About the author

Dwayne Buckingham wrote 219 articles on this blog.

Dr. Dwayne L. Buckingham, author of Qualified, yet Single: Why Good Men Remain Single and Unconditional Love: What Every Woman and Man Desires in a Relationship, is a highly acclaimed international clinical psychotherapist, life coach, relationship and resiliency expert, motivational speaker and corporate consultant. He is also the President and Chief Executive Officer of R.E.A.L. Horizons Consulting Service, located in Silver Spring, Maryland. To learn more about Dr. Dwayne L. Buckingham visit his website at www.DrBuckingham.com.


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A Writer’s Emotional and Loving Open Letter to Her Deceased Mother

BY: - 4 May '16 | Faith

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Dear Mama,

As I sit here on our brown comfy sofa sipping my mocha coffee, so peaceful this early in the morning or at least until Makayla’s feet hit the floor, I reflect about you. I wish you could have met her, though I’m grateful you’re her heavenly angel watching over her.

Truthfully, sometimes I worry about my baby—even though we moved from Chicago and now live in what Great American Country refers to as one of five great neighborhoods in Charlotte.  Still life has taught me there are no guarantees no matter where you live as we have seen countless times on the news all over the world. Sometimes, I worry will there be violence at school today? How will my baby handle it? Will my baby fight back or run?

Oh, Mama, I realize now, that even in the quiet respite of those peaceful mornings when I would find you sitting in the kitchen that you never had any peace. All that time I thought you were having “you time”, that you were “taking time for yourself.” I know better now, Mama.

Now, I know what you were doing. You were worrying about me, just like I worry about my baby. You worried about my grades. You wondered if you were doing everything you could to make sure I was learning–so much as to volunteer at my school (only you, mom). You worried if my friends were a good or bad influence on me. And those boys—you always referred to as “peanut head” (LOL), you surly thought they were no good and one would eventually steal your baby away from you. You would be pleased with the “peanut head” I chose for my husband mom.

I gave you so much to worry about. And I know you wouldn’t have it any other way. I know because I wouldn’t have it any other way either. I take my coffee with one teaspoon of sugar and cream, just like you did.

It’s evening now, and my phone is silent. Makayla is spending the evening with her aunt Jody. I text my baby (via Jody’s phone) and I haven’t heard back. The silence is getting to me. Sometimes, my baby sends me loving texts but she is unresponsive tonight. Why doesn’t my baby answer me? Why didn’t I answer you?

I try to think of the reasons why I didn’t check in with you when I was supposed to. I was too busy doing teenager things. I was embarrassed to be checking in with my “mommy” in front of my friends as a youth. I was too adult to have to be checking in. I realized now they were all poor justifications really. God how I wish I could check in with you right now!  But heaven doesn’t have phones or text messages.

Sometimes, I wish I could send you a quick text to ask you small things. Do you have wings? Are you singing in Jesus’s choir? You had a great voice, Mama (I wish I would have told you more often). I especially loved when you sang “Unforgettable” by Nat King Cole to me. While these memories take me back to happier times, truth be told I’m holding back the tears (now reminded of that Simply Red song you loved so much)…wow memories of you surround me at every turn, Mama.


I’m sorry I made you worry so much. I know you’re with me—after all those were your last words to me before you lost consciousness due to your cancer. I feel you in my heart often. You keep me company still today and always by loving me while I go through the same trials that I put you through. I realize now what it means to REALLY be a mother! You tried to show me and tell me, but I never quite got it. Personally, I don’t think you can ever get it until you go through it.

I remember just last year I attended my baby’s first real concert. Oh Lord! My ears! The music was so bad, but I would never tell my baby that. It was easy to smile because I watched my baby up on stage, working so hard to try to sound so good. I cannot imagine the racket you had to put up with through all my years of trying to sound like Mariah Carey (LOL).  Truth is your baby girl can sing now!  Minus getting stage shy when it comes to singing in public, as you may recall from my high school graduation having to do a duet because I was far too shy to do a solo.  Yet, every time I practiced you’d smile and tell me how good I was. That your baby was going to be a star. You supported me so much with everything I did, and I only wish you knew just how eternally grateful I am for that!  The irony now is that I get paid to speak to the masses on stage, but just don’t ask me to sing, haha.

I know you thought I didn’t listen and didn’t care a lot of the time. I did learn from you, Mama. I support my baby too. I make sure to give her all the encouragement you gave me, and then I apply even more. You did real well with me, Mama, even though I know you second-guessed yourself often having me later in life. You did the best you knew how to do, and I’m grateful.

I remember all those times I never wanted to be like you. I denied that I would ever grow up to be “just like my mother.” Now, my goal is to adopt your loving ways, to be the wonderful mother to my baby that you were to me. When I catch myself saying something that you said so many times, so long ago, I laugh in love.  I know that your spirit is moving in me, inspiring me to raise my baby strong. And I try, Mama. Lord, do I try!

I pray for your strength, you had the strength of a warrior—must have come from our Native American side (LOL).  When I have to discipline my baby, it hurts me.  From time to time, I hear your voice saying “this hurts me more than it hurts you,” and now I fully understand what you meant and exactly how that made you feel.  I don’t want to be the “mean mom” though I do what I have to do for the sake of Makayla. I remember telling you “I hate you” when you had to stand strong as a mother. While I’m optimistic most days, I’m realistic too. And I know the day will come when I’m sure to hear those heartbreaking words too. I know my baby will not mean them, just like I never truly meant it either.  I must have hurt you so bad, and for that I’m sorry, mommy.

Through the pain, I feel the love. I’m proud to be able to stand strong, just like you taught me to do by being strong yourself when you were disciplining me and leading by example even when you did not know it. When I take the hard road and be the mother I have to be, I feel you standing strong with me, lending me your strength. I know you’re with me every day, not just in spirit but through all of the things I’ve come to appreciate about being a mother–many of those things that I learned from you mama.

I love you so much, Mama!!! HAPPY Heavenly Mother’s Day!


Your Daughter Always & Forever

BMWK, what message would you wish to say to your mother? Whether, she is with you on earth this mother’s day or in heaven, write her a letter to show your love.

Hey, moms with little ones. Were you thinking of traveling to see your mom this mother’s day but didn’t want the hassle of traveling with your young kids? Then read this.

About the author

Da-Nay Macklin wrote 58 articles on this blog.

Coach Da-Nay Macklin is a Certified Christian Life & Relationship Coach, founder of the Courageous Conquerors Mastermind and Author of Love After Adultery: The Breakthrough Journey of the Brokenhearted Available on Amazon She is one of the nation’s leading experts on infidelity and a thought leader on maximizing potential as she assists couples and individuals to live life by design and not default. Da-Nay has been has been featured on the Oprah Winfrey Network’s show Unfaithful: Stories of Betrayal after successfully navigating adultery in her marriage, and named one of the 15 most powerful women on the south side of Chicago. She now resides in Charlotte, NC with her loving husband and daughter.


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