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Doctors Sylvia and Milton Gearing have been serving the Dallas-Fort Worth area since 1985 with compassion and professionalism.

The Gearings implement the latest in psychological research to stay at the cutting edge of their field and bring the most effective and life changing techniques to their clients.

Their methods and strategies have been sharpened over the years, and are now built upon Gearing Up’s Three Gears of Change.

Courage in the Face of Adversity - Jul 31, 2002

Courage in the Face of Adversity

July 31, 2002

Dr. Sylvia Gearing, CBS 11 News

Q: The recent rescue of the Pennsylvania coal miners has reminded us once again of American courage in the face of adversity. Now psychologists report that people who survive traumas have specific characteristics. Here to tell us more is CBS 11 Medical Correspondent and psychologist, Dr. Sylvia Gearing.

Dr. Sylvia:

Surviving against great odds is a challenge most people never face. But for those who do, psychologists report that there are specific characteristics that predict who will survive. Here are the key survival signs:

1. Social Support: One psychologist called social support the cheapest medicine. Faced with a life-threatening accident, disease or other disaster, drawing upon the support of friends and family can make a life saving difference.

2. Controlling the Details: Control acts as a buffer against fear. Focusing on small, controllable details--such as counting supplies--during a disaster restores a feeling of predictability--at least in the short run.

3. Adopt a Spiritual View: As in the coal miners' case, millions of people have survived horrible circumstances by investing in prayer. Not only does prayer have a powerful effect on the body, it also calms the mind.

4. Distraction: Surviving a disaster usually involves endurance and patience. Distractions such as focusing on a pleasant memory or visualizing a relaxing scene can help to pass the time while waiting for help.

5. Healthy Denial: Research reveals that denial "makes room for hope" by not dwelling on the difficult circumstances at hand. Re-defining your situation as less serious allows you to remain calm and to problem solve.

6. Optimism: Thousands of studies now show that an optimistic viewpoint can help an individual to solve problems more effectively, to persevere under the worst of circumstances and to enjoy better health over a lifetime. It can also make or break the recovery from trauma.

7. Hope in the Face of Helplessness: One of the biggest barriers to survival is helplessness. Once an individual is convinced that all is lost and he is helpless to affect the outcome of his fate, survival becomes impossible. Hope is the antidote for helplessness and can ultimately save your life.

8. True Grit: Sometimes who survives comes down to who has the resolve to "wait out a crisis." A steely resolve and an inability to give up may determine who lives and who dies.

Q: Along with the miners, many people involved with the rescue operations are also considered heroes. Are there any personality traits heroes seem to have in common?

Dr. Sylvia:

Yes, there are Tracy, and here are a few:

1. Sincerity: Heroes possess an honest conviction to help other people in the face of insurmountable challenges.

2. Persistent, Independent Thinkers: The hero pushes on against great odds even as critics advise him to stop.

3. Intuition: A hero often knows intuitively what the right course of action is. He has a vision of winning in the end.

4. Bravery: A true hero does not back away from challenge. Instead, he runs into burning buildings, showing strengths he may not have known he possessed.

Finally, many experts add that a true hero is often humble and refuses personal recognition. Their primary concern is always working for the greater good.