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Patriots Superbowl win proves you should never quit, no matter what

Stefanie Hauck (center of second row, grey sweatshirt) at a recent Lone Survivor Foundation retreat in Park City, Utah.

So, I attended a retreat for Post 9/11 female veterans this past May in which the theme was to ‘never quit.’  That mantra rings true with the seemingly impossible Superbowl win Sunday night.

The Atlanta Falcons seemingly had the game in hand with a 28-3 lead over the New England Patriots in the third quarter, but by the time there was 53 seconds left in the fourth quarter, the Patriots had come all the way back to tie the game. A few minutes later, they had won in overtime 34-28.

ESPN writer Bill Barnwell describes it perfectly. “The Pats pieced together incredible play with fortuitous bounces and impeccable timing to overcome a Falcons team that had a 99.8 percent shot of claiming its first Super Bowl with 21 minutes to go, ” he writes.

Tom Brady led one of the greatest comebacks in Super Bowl history, coming back from a 25-point hole to the Patriots’ fifth title in the first overtime Super Bowl.

We can draw meaning in this feat and use it in our daily lives. No matter how dire things seem, no matter how bad things are, you have to see through the fog of despair and never, ever give up.

I struggle with this daily. Just act of making myself get up out of bed, getting dressed, leaving my house and coming into work everyday is a major accomplishment.

I have to say that mantra to myself, several times a day, “Never Quit, Never Give Up,” a mantra I learned by participating in resilience activities at the Lone Survivor Foundation retreat in Park City, Utah.

If I didn’t mindfully say it, I would probably want to go running to my car and speed home several times a day. A mantra or daily affirmation is a crucial part of practicing resilience.

According to the American Psychological Association, resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress. It means “bouncing back” from difficult experiences. Resilience involves behaviors, thoughts and actions that can be learned in anyone.

A lot of resilience involves learning mindfulness. I’m learning to analyze every situation with a mindful eye. I try to stop and think about whether or not I am approaching each situation in the right way.

Being mindful and objective about things is not easy. I fail more times than I succeed.  But at least I’m trying. It’s all about getting unstuck and staying unstuck. Nobody ever said that moving forward wouldn’t involve setbacks. Because nobody’s perfect.

Here are some quick tips that anyone can learn to incorporate into their daily routine.

Practice the acronym R.A.I.N. “R” is to recognize when a strong emotion is present. “A” is to allow or acknowledge that it is indeed there. “I” is to investigate and bring self-inquiry to the body, feelings, and mind, and “N” is to non-identify with what’s there. This non-identification is very useful in that it helps to deflate the story and cultivates wise understanding in the recognition that the emotion is just another passing mind state and not a definition of who you are.

Creating space to come down from the over anxious/worried mind and back into the present moment has been shown to be enormously helpful. Next time you find your mind racing with stress, try the acronym S.T.O.P. “S” is to stop what you are doing; “T” is to take a few long yoga breaths (four seconds in, hold for 2 seconds then six seconds out); “O” is to observe your thoughts and emotions – and to slow down, letting go the worry; and “P” is to proceed with something calming like shaking a snow globe, listening to music for a few minutes etc. Then you can refocus and go about what you were previously doing without all the worry and anxiety.

Avoid checking out by taking whatever control you have over your situation and doing something (however small) about it. Look for opportunities for self-discovery.

Keep things in perspective. When something bad happens, it can color all aspects of our life. Your job is to put things in perspective. Don’t let one bad event taint your view of the other areas in your life.

Maintain a hopeful outlook. Watch how you explain or think about your situation. When possible, take the more positive and optimistic view.

And last but not least … always remember to take care of yourself. Do what you can to sleep and eat well. Get outside and into nature whenever you can, take some yoga classes or do other things you enjoy.

 – Stefanie Hauck is a Post 9/11 combat veteran and the communication officer for MVRC.