Dwayne Buckingham August 11, 2020 No Comments

Building Resilience During the Pandemic

As America continues to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of individuals across the nation are faced with unemployment while others are working extended hours, managing their own anxiety, taking care of their families, and homeschooling their children. Unfortunately, the latter challenges threaten the psychological and physical wellbeing of those experiencing this devastating adversity. With uncertainty looming, we must all take an active stance to safeguard ourselves and build personal resilience.


Many individuals define resilience differently. Most researchers agree that resilience associates with an individual’s ability to bounce back after facing adversity or hardship. I define resilience as “the ability to bounce back wiser, better, and stronger after facing adversity.” Resilient individuals recover quicker. They cope with adversity and psychological stress in an effective manner.

Building resilience has many advantages. Resilience helps people face and manage positive and negative life events. Here are three tips for building resilience:

Tip #1–Develop a Personal Resilience Framework 

Having different strengths and personalities, it is important to remember that what works for someone else might not work for you. Examine your characteristics and personal resources. What are your beliefs or sense of purpose? My personal resilience centers around positive thinking and processing. I exchange negative imagery with positive imagery and view resilience as a process, not an outcome. This framework helps me practice optimism and patience.

I often remind people that resilience looks and feels different for everyone. Therefore, you must develop a personal resilience framework. Define what resilience means to you. Create imagery, quotes, or metaphors to help practice resilience. Make sure that you are living a lifestyle that fits your personal resilience framework.

Tip #2 – Focus on Your Strengths 

Your strengths are personal assets used regularly to navigate through life (e.g., positive thinking, good problem-solving skills, a flexible sense of humor, organization, maintaining good health, trust in other people, high self-esteem, creativity, and faith).

When faced with adversity, exert energy towards the things that work for you. Be mindful that our greatest weapon for combating adversity roots itself in our ability to identify what works for us and use it to our advantage. For example, one of my strengths is finding solutions in problems. I often remind myself of these words: “Resilient people find solutions in problems. In contrast, troubled people find problems in every solution.”

Tip #3–Concentrate on Internal Locus of Control

There are two types of control points in life. However, only one provides us with the ability to feel like we are in control. Understanding the difference between internal locus of control and external locus of control essentially builds resilience and successfully overcomes challenges.

What is your locus of control? Do you believe that you have control over the outcomes in your life? If yes, your locus of control is internal. Do you believe that external forces have control over the outcomes in your life? If yes, your locus of control is external.

Why is this important? Life throws curve balls at us such as COVID-19. Those who have internal locus of control believe that their actions impact what happens to them. You cannot control the infection rate (external). However, you can monitor and manage your lifestyle in order to prevent self-exposure (internal).

Internal locus of control has a major impact on your life and helps you build resilience. Remember that resilience is about taking charge of a person’s life. When storms surface, resilient people monitor their personal reaction instead of complaining about the severity of the storm.

Unfortunately, we are facing some difficult times. However, coping with adversity in a resilient manner is possible and proves to work. By building your personal resilience, you successfully navigate through life and overcome any obstacles that are placed in front of you.

As you continue to navigate through these difficult and trying times, please practice self-care and implement the resilience building tips outlined above.

Lastly, keep in mind: the only time “giving” is bad, is when it is used with the word “up,” as in giving up. We will get through this and bounce back wiser, better, and stronger.

Best regards,

Dr. Dwayne Buckingham

A Nation That Is Divided By Injustice and Racism: Why Are African Americans Struggling To Breathe?

I would like to take a moment to explain why it is difficult for a large percent of African Americans to breathe. As we continue to struggle to process and cope with the negative psychological effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are now also trying to process the tragic death and senseless murder of George Floyd.

For many African Americans, the modern-day lynching of George Floyd reminds us of the systematic injustice that has and continues to threaten the moral fabric of America. As we try to make sense of what it means to be an American and more importantly what it means to be an African American in this country, many of us are struggling to breathe.

  • We are struggling to breathe because some Americans are not outraged about the senseless murder of black people.
  • We are struggling to breathe because some Americans are remaining silent because they do not have to confront the societal demons called racism and injustice.
  • We are struggling to breathe because some Americans believe that injustice is a cultural issue and not systematic issue.
  • We are struggling to breathe because some Americans hide behind privilege and false perception.
  • We are struggling to breathe because some Americans are well-intentioned, but are naïve about the stronghold and negative impact of racism.
  • We are struggling to breathe because some Americans do not understand that social empowerment cannot be achieved without economic empowerment.
  • We are struggling to breathe because some Americans lack empathy and compassion for people who look like George Floyd.
  • We are struggling to breathe because some Americans are ok with living in A Nation That Is Divided by Injustice and Racism.

I do not pretend to have all of the answers, but I do not know that civil unrest and violence will be unavoidable as long as African Americans continue to struggle to breath. We are as strong as the strongest American. Given this, I challenge you to look at yourself and decide if you are part of the solution or part of the problem. Also, I challenge you to ask yourself, “What positive and productive actions can I take to ensure that all Americans are capable of breathing freely?

We might not be able to remove all of the obstacles that are negatively affecting this country, especially not overnight, but we can begin to work our emotional and mental wellbeing. This is critically important because a person filled with hopelessness and helplessness sees no way forward.

  • Take a risk and speak up!
  • Take a risk and get counseling!
  • Take a risk and hold people accountable!
  • Take a risk and change what you do not like when you look in the mirror!
  • Take a risk and work to change A NATION THAT IS DIVIDED BY INJUSTICE AND RACISM.

“He who is not courageous enough to take risk will accomplish nothing in life.” -Muhammad Ali

As we all struggle to understand what is happening in America, please remember that breathing is necessary for living. We want to breathe justice! We want to breathe freedom. We want to breathe because Black Lives Matter.


Best regards,

Dr. Dwayne Buckingham

A Culture of Trauma: “When They See Us – The Central Park Five” Story

When They See Us – The Central Park Five” story had me in my feelings so I had to take action.

I often engage in self-dialogue after watching black stories that are somewhat traumatizing. I do this because many of us have been exposed to or lived through trauma so long that we get use to experiencing negative emotions and then ignore them by moving on.

Anger, frustration, dislike, disbelief, shock and fear must be processed or these emotions will surface and cause health problems both physically and mentally.

Individuals like myself are unfortunately too familiar with the trauma and injustice experienced by Korey Wise, Yusef Salaam, Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray, and Raymond Santana.

Between the ages of 5 and 25 I lived through so much trauma that it became normal. Can you relate?

✅ At age 5 I saw my first dead body while walking home from school

✅ I was bullied for having a speech impediment throughout elementary school

✅ I was shot in the arm at age nine

✅ I watched the police beat and harass black men daily

✅ I feared the police due to harassment

✅ I was held in a jail cell for 4 hours at age 15 for being in the wrong place during a drug raid

✅ I witnessed violence and death due to daily gang activity

✅ I attended my nephew’s funeral – he was killed in a drive-by shooting at age 17

✅ I lost my mother at age 17 after she loss her battle with cancer

✅ I attended my friend’s funeral – he was murdered during an attempted robbery

✅ I was robbed at gun point in downtown St. Louis during summer break from college – the gun was pointed at my chest

✅ And more…

Some of you might be asking yourself, “What does his story has to do with the Central Park Five story?” You might also be asking yourself, “Why was he in his feelings over the weekend?”

Glad you asked.

The Central Park Five story is reflective of the African American story. A story of trauma and injustice.

They were traumatized and treated unjustly because of their ethnicity, lack of resources and for being in the “wrong” skin, in the wrong place and at the wrong time.

Time and time again, minorities and especially Black and Brown men have been and continue to be imprisoned, beat and even killed because a percentage of society see us as a threat, not as a human being.

I share my thoughts and feelings, not to solicit sympathy or to trigger back lash, but to simply highlight the importance of processing negative energy and traumatizing emotions.

“When They See Us” is a powerful film that triggers emotions that should and must be processed in a safe and healthy manner.

As a black man who has experienced trauma, I understand this personally. And as a licensed clinical psychotherapist with over 20 years of experience, I understand this therapeutically.

If you watch the movie, please speak with someone if you experience negative emotions. We have to stop feeling bad and not doing anything. It is normal to feel pissed, angry, sad and frustrated, but is not normal to hate, self-destruct, destroy your family or your community because you cannot or do not know how to cope with raw and traumatizing emotions.

Do not hold on to trauma because it will imprison you. The Central Park Five are free physically, but I wonder “Are they free mentally?

For support, please see our services or email us at Rhcs@realtherapyhelp.com


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


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

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