I’m excited that Dr. Ashley Solomon is sharing her thoughts with us today about perseverance. I really admire her career and accomplishments. Thank you, Ashley, for taking part!
Ashley Solomon, Psy.D, is a psychologist who specializes in the treatment of eating disorders, body image, trauma, and serious mental illness. She loves ice cream, yoga, and sleep. You can connect with her on her website (www.nourishing-the-soul.com) or on facebook and twitter. I recommend that you do.
1.What is the best piece of advice you have ever received? Who did you receive it from?
Growing up, my self-esteem was rocky and I would often find myself afraid of facing the world. I was so scared of being judged by others, so I would go ahead and pre-judge myself. I’d tell myself that there’s no way I’d ever be good enough, or smart enough, or pretty enough for everyone else. My mom used to quote Eleanor Roosevelt when she would say to me, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” At some point along the way, I stopped taking that as my mom blabbering and realized how much truth there was in those words. I had to allow people to treat me poorly. I realized that no one could really make me feel anything. It was up to me to decide how I wanted to approach the world – expecting to be torn down or feeling strong and empowered. Eventually, I chose the latter, and it’s made a huge difference in the way others see me and the way I see myself.
2.How important is mentorship in terms of your success?
Mentorship has truly been key. Without strong support and guides, I could never have achieved so many of my goals. I’ve been lucky to have a number of mentors in my life, often for short but crucial periods. In my field, you always have a direct supervisor who actually functions more like a mentor (if they’re good!). I’ve had amazing individuals who have been able to not only help me develop my skills in psychology, but to become a fuller and more grounded person.
3.What has been the best moment in your life so far?
Oh, wow, that’s tough. I really try hard to practice mindfulness and to be present with each moment of my life. So I think there have been so many incredible moments I’ve experienced. But one really memorable moment, to be cliche here, was the night that I married my husband. After the ceremony and once we had gotten to the reception (and the stress was off!), I remember sharing our first dance and feeling like the world totally melted away. I think it was one of the first moments that day that I felt what the day was really about, and I was so happy to be with my best friend, knowing this was the beginning of forever. How cheesy is that, right?
4.What tips would you have for living a healthy life?
Eat what you love, and love what you eat. Learn to listen to the signals of your body – when it’s full, when it’s tired, when it needs closeness, when it needs medical attention. Trust your gut instincts – about things that don’t feel right in your body or your soul. Our intuition is so powerful. Take time to rest – it’s just as important as activity. Try to move your body in ways that make you feel good, not anxious or unhappy. Floss your teeth. Eat colorful foods. Cultivate your relationships. Try to learn something new every day. Practice gratitude. Do all that, and I think you’ll be healthy.
5.How do you motivate yourself to persist despite setbacks?
I try to remind myself that failure is part of the package. There’s this Michael Jordan quote that I really like. He said, “I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” I think that’s so true. Everyone whose done anything great or amazing has failed thousands of time before they succeeded. Things that are too easy probably aren’t worth it. I also think it’s helpful to talk about setbacks. If you can process what happened – and all the frustration and disappointment – you can move forward.
6.What has been your biggest setback? How did you deal with it? What did you learn from it?
This wasn’t my biggest setback, but it was major at the time. I had been offered and accepted a position several years ago, but a few days before I was set to start, I learned that the organization had changed their mind and wouldn’t be hiring me. The job was out of state, and I had already planned our entire move and my husband had been interviewing for new jobs there too. Suddenly, our entire lives seemed to be turned upside down. I went through various stages of grief — I was angry, disappointed, and scared of our unknown future. I talked a lot with people I loved and thought about all of the stories of people experiencing major setbacks that resulted in amazing outcomes. I also recognized that there was probably a reason that this happened. Clearly I wasn’t the right fit for this organization if this could happen, and it would have been worse had I started there and then learned this. After getting another job — one that was a much better fit and in a different city where we had family and friends – I recognized that the experience was truly a gift. It reminded me that the my plans are not perfect and that I don’t always know what’s best for me. Sometimes it takes the universe reminding me.
7.How do you deal with critics?
I guess I’ve been somewhat lucky to not have many “critics.” Sometimes I actually wonder if I’m not putting myself out there enough, because I truly believe that anyone bold and revolutionary is going to have critics. When I do face people who disagree with me, practicing mindfulness and self-awareness has allowed me to stay more grounded in what I know to be true for myself.
8.How important is social support in overcoming obstacles?
HUGELY! My social support is probably the most important factor in getting through tough times. I think we can get through nearly anything (even those things we think, “I could never survive that!”) if we have support in place. I just have to remind myself to be open with them about how I’m feeling and accept their support.
9.What advice would you give others about goal setting?
Make your goals challenging but attainable. Stretch yourself, but don’t break yourself in trying to meet your goals. Start with things that you can be successful at. For example, if you want to build up to writing a book, start with 10 minutes per day of writing exercises rather than saying you’re going to write your first novel in the next six months.
10.What life lesson have you learned that you would like to pass along to others?
There’s nothing that you can to stop your feelings. You can try to avoid them, distract yourself from them, or numb them, but none of those things work long term. The best thing that we can do – the only thing that we can do – is to allow ourselves to feel the real, raw emotions. They are incredible gifts – even pain – and they teach us so much, if we let them.
Thank you, Ashley, for sharing your thoughts on perseverance with us!!! Keep up the amazing work!