“When life throws us a curve, we must be able to adjust our goals in a new direction and be diligent in our new pursuit. Then if we look to the future with a positive attitude, we will be successful in what we do. That doesn’t mean it will be easy. There is still hard work involved in anything we do. I also found as I counseled with people in crisis that if they could find joy in small efforts and little successes, they could look to the future in a positive way.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing therapist and author Christy Monson.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what events have drawn you to this specific career path?
I have always loved helping people. One of the goals I have each day is to share goodness with at least one person. I want to make life a little easier for someone during the day. So, I love being a therapist, and I love writing books that will help others to a better quality of life.
Can you share your story of Grit and Success? First can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?
Difficulties confronted me early in my life. When I was six years old an angry teenager ran a stop sign and killed my father who was the love and stability of my life. My mother fell to pieces, and I knew from that time on I had to please her so she wouldn’t leave too. (I know now that was a mistaken childhood belief. My mother had no intention of abandoning me, but I didn’t know it then.) I because a people-pleaser and lost part of myself.
I needed my father in my life so in my kid-way, I began to visualize him reading to me at night before bed. He and I had long talks, and from those interchanges, I figured out the direction I wanted to go as I grew up.
Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
At an early age, I learned to respond to my changing circumstances and set new directions and goals in life. That isn’t to say that I didn’t have problems. Even though I had my father to talk to, I didn’t know how to build relationships with men. My husband and I struggled to create a happy marriage, but we eventually figured it out and were together for 54 years before he died a few month ago.
I have always loved to work hard. My great-grandmother was a midwife, my grandmother was a social worker, my mother was a college professor, and I’m a therapist, and an author. Women in our family have always worked hard.
Throughout my life, one of the most difficult situations for me is to see a young policeman or soldier killed in the line of duty. I look at the grieving wife and small children left behind. I feel the path of loneliness and abandonment those children will experience.
Today I have the skills to send light and love and prayers to those young people. As a therapist, I have been able to help many children find their path to healing in the wage of tragedy and disaster. I am at peace and enjoy daily gratitude for the many wonders my life holds.
So how did Grit lead to your eventual success? How did Grit turn things around?
When life throws us a curve, we must be able to adjust our goals in a new direction and be diligent in our new pursuit. Then if we look to the future with a positive attitude, we will be successful in what we do. That doesn’t mean it will be easy. There is still hard work involved in anything we do. I also found as I counseled with people in crisis that if they could find joy in small efforts and little successes, they could look to the future in a positive way.
So, how are things going today? 🙂
Great. I love life and am happy with the direction I’ve taken.
Based on your experience, can you share 5 pieces of advice about how one can develop Grit?
Here are a few stories from the book How to Develop Grit:
1. Marissa responded quickly in a crisis. She knew what she wanted and acted fast.
She was working in the second tower the morning of 911. She watched, frozen, as a plane hit the first tower. A co-worker from London called her on the phone and asked what had just happened. That jarred her from her immobile state. As she told him, she jumped into action. She had a teenager and a baby at home, and she had to get to them. As she ran out her office door, the elevator opened with some of her friends from the floor above. She got on and zoomed to the ground floor. She sprinted from the building (she was a runner) and across the Brooklyn Bridge, fearing that the world was under attack and the bridge would blow up too. She finally arrived home about ten that night — so thankful that she had acted quickly in the crisis.
2. Colette and Jeremy struggled through their grief one day at a time. Their service to others consoled them. Their eleven-year-old daughter developed a tumor on her optic nerve. She became bed-ridden and blind. Specialists at the children’s hospital gave her radiation, but it didn’t help. She died a few months later. The entire family was grief-stricken. Collette said, “We clung together as a couple, knowing our daughter was in heaven and we would see her again.” They got back into daily life, but were devastated when their second daughter was diagnosed with the same condition. She suffered the same pain and agony as her older sister and died a few months later. A desolate feeling enveloped the family, but they pressed forward one day at a time. Service consoled them. (She was a nurse and he served in his church.)
3. Katy persevered against all odds in time of crisis. She always had hope that the future would be better. She is a positive thinker. She had been abandoned by her mother and lived with her grandmother until the state of New York put her in a foster home. She was raped in that home by a family friend at age thirteen and had a baby. A few years later her husband abandoned her, leaving her alone with two little boys. Katy knew education was the way out of her poverty. She wanted to raise her boys in better circumstances than she was raised. She went to school, received her bachelor’s degree, and got a good job. When her oldest boy was twenty-one, he was hit and killed by a drink driver. She was devastated, but her perseverance in time of crises had pulled her through before, and it did again. She came into counseling to work through the abandonment in her life, and found ways to grieve through writing, music, and art. She is a true survivor.
4. Theron just kept going when problems overwhelmed him because that’s what his family did. His father committed suicide when he was in college. He went home to care for his mother and take care of the business end of things. His grief led him to decide what he thought about God and a life after this one. A few years later his grandmother died of old age, and his mother died of cancer. Shortly thereafter his brother burned to death in a house fire. Theron lost his entire family in a matter of a few years. “I had my belief in God,” Theron said, “and I had to keep going because that’s what you did in our family. You kept going.” He is at more at peace now with life. He has a family of his own and enjoys them. But at times he is sad that they won’t know his family. He says the grief has lessened over the years, but it’s still there.
5. My last piece of advice is to find the good around you. Look at the world through rose-colored glasses because there is good all around. Gratitude is one of the greatest ways to express that goodness.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped you when things were tough? Can you share a story about that?
The person that helped me along the way was my mother. She worked through the death of my father, went back to school to get a PhD, and taught on the college level for many years. She was a dear mentor and wonderful friend throughout my life.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I love helping other people. It’s a goal each day for me to make life a little better for at least one person.
I am also excited about a children’s book of short biographies about famous people and the talents they had that helped them succeed.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I think my book, Finding Peace in Times of Tragedy, will be very helpful for people. It outlines ways to work through tragedy and trauma. I love to talk to people and share my ideas about persevering through life’s problems.
I have a children’s book about finding hope in the midst of trials that will be republished in the fall of 2019. Here’s a link to the one’s that’s out of print. There may be a few copies left on Amazon.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I think my new book will be very helpful for many people who have experienced tragedy in the world today. Whether people have been involved in a world disaster or have their own personal problems, this book is designed to help reduce stress and depression.
Disastrous events continue to plague our world, and finding peace in times of trauma can be an overwhelming challenge. Personal shock after a death or tragedy can devastate a family for generations to come. This book discusses how tragedy physically changes the brain and the body, explains the healing techniques of mindfulness, and outlines skills for recovery from trauma. Personal accounts include a 911 survivor, a mother whose son was mangled in a roadside bomb in Afghanistan, parents who had two children die of similar brain tumors, a young adult whose father committed suicide, and a rape victim.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Here’s my Quote: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
Dr. Seuss, The Lorax
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Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.