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I Will Not Be Broken: Five Steps to Overcoming a Life Crisis Hardcover – April 29, 2008
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“An amazingly poignant book. But it does more than capture the collective experience of enduring a tragedy. It provides a road map for the individual and their family to put one foot in front of the other and reenter the land of the living. This book will be a remarkable tool.”
---Bob and Lee Woodruff, authors of In an Instant
“[White’s] courageous personal experience is a beacon for all who are searching to recover and reclaim life.”
---Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan, bestselling author of Leap of Faith
“We can choose happiness, even after the worst of times. Jerry White offers an excellent guide to navigating and overcoming the traumas we face in our lives.”
---Deepak Chopra, author of Buddha: A Story of Enlightenment
“Offers wise, practical, and inspiring steps to come back from life’s worst setbacks. Jerry White speaks with compassion and authority---and an abundance of emotional intelligence.”
---Daniel Goleman, author of Social Intelligence
“This is an important book. Jerry White shares lessons learned from his experience . . . to help trauma victims recover, survive, and thrive.”
---Jane Goodall, author of Harvest for Hope
About the Author
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No matter what trial you are facing, this book is one I would refer you to, in order to gain perspective on it and realize that no matter what you face, there is a road to healing waiting for you.
Great Job Mr White
First with the help of the do-or-die Israelis who had no time for self-pity or any other form of self-destructive self-indulgence, and then with the help of family and friends and countless wise others, White chose life and transformed his traumatic experience into his life's work. Today he is the leader of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (for which he was corecipient of the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1997), and cofounder of Survivor Corps. He describes his journey from victim to survivor to "thriver" in his new book I Will Not Be Broken.
The book outlines a program of five steps for coping with disaster. He draws on his experiences as well as those of famous persons such as Lance Armstrong; Diana, Princess of Wales; Christopher Reeve, the American Psychological Association, and the not so famous--his college roommate, his mom, Bosnians who survived the warn in their country, a little Cambodian girl who also lost a leg to a landmine. His drawing on the wisdom of persons from all walks of life underscores he beliefs that wisdom is a collective resource as well as an individual one and that all life is interconnected. White's book approaches the challenge of trauma positively by focusing on individual strengths rather than dwelling on what went wrong and why.
I Will Not Be Broken is an earthy, conversational, and real testament of the beauty and wonder of all life. Here are some highlights of the book in White's words.
"Each of us has seeds of victimhood, survivorship, and thriving potential within us."
"The challenge we face is integrating our experiences--sorrowful and joyful--to help us evolve from victimhood to thriving."
"For many people, there isn't one precise moment of crisis [but an accumulation]--a few unpleasant things overlap, and a crisis sneaks up from behind."
To prevent being broken by crisis,
First, face the facts. "Great teachers and prophets admonish us to get real with ourselves, no matter how humiliating the facts."
"None of us will get very far without first examining our circumstances, relationships, and feelings. We will need to be ruthless in our self-assessment."
Second, we need to choose life. "We must consciously choose for our lives to go on in a positive way."
We can accomplish this by "nurturing a positive view of ourselves, keeping things in perspective, and maintaining a hopeful outlook."
Having crossed the threshold to survivorship, we can take the third step of reaching out because no one thrives in isolation.
"We have to let people in our life into our life." As Albert Schweizer has said, "'At times our own light goes out an dis rekindled by a spark form another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.'"
Next, we need to get moving, to think of the future and develop a plan for achieving goals, though "the speed at which [we] move is less relevant than the belief that [we]will move."
Finally, we must take Step Five and give back. "You must give to a community in order to belong to a community. You can become a volunteer, a community leader, a donor, a social change agent, a future peer supporter. You get outside yourself and, by doing so, get away from your suffering. It's not charity. It's not pity. It's gratitude in motion. It is belonging in action."
Taking these steps is the best way to avoid falling into the trap of victimhood, a stagnant state of being that includes living in the past, wallowing in self-pity, resenting others, blaming others, and taking from others.
Taking these steps can lead to resilience, "our capacity to bounce back and resume function and health after a confrontation with disruptive or traumatic events...Resilient people are somehow able to draw on past experiences and find inner strength to navigate their troubles and make the transition to a healthy, flourishing future."
White takes the tougher and more rewarding turn, converting his own experience into a cause to help others who also took that fateful step, and in many cases as he records, have suffered far worse than he. His group that he and Ken Rutherford founded has gone on to provide medical care and economic opportunity to literally thousands of people in the developing world who also have stepped on a landmine. That's truly a noble thing. There are others who have translated similar experiences into public good, but most would have given up early on or maybe never dared to try in the first place.
The most practical part of the book is the latter half where White seeks to give advice on how to comfort the bereaved. This has always been an awkward thing from my own experience -- what do you say, what do you do, should you just stay away -- when the co-worker loses his job, the neighbor's kid suffers a fatal accident, your sister-in-law has just been diagnosed with cancer. Everyone can relate to the these experiences, but White can address them much more knowledgeably due to his own experience and the many others he has come to know (he does engage in a bit of name-dropping, not unexpected from a Washington-based author) who have suffered setbacks. Generally, his advice is -- say less, do more -- though he explains that approach much more eloquently and with further nuance than there is the space to describe here.