Wednesday, June 18, 2008

REVIEW: "I Will Not Be Broken" by Jerry White

I Will Not Be Broken starts with the horrific tale of how author Jerry White lost his leg while in Israel. But the book is not an auto-biography, but rather a collection of stories from people from all walks of life who faced some of the grimmest challenges life has to offer and survived. Not only have these people survived their ordeals, they have thrived and chosen to share their insights with others in hopes of reaching out to to help those in pain heal themselves.

Here are the Five Steps to Overcoming a Life Crisis:
1. Face Facts. One must first accept the harsh reality about suffering and loss, however brutal. “This terrible thing has happened. It can’t be changed. I can’t rewind the clock. My family still needs me. So now what?”

2. Choose Life. That is, “I want to say yes to the future. I want my life to go on in a positive way.” Seizing life, not surrendering to death or stagnation, requires letting go of resentments and looking forward, not back. It can be a daily decision.

3. Reach Out. One must find peers, friends, and family to break the isolation and loneliness that come in the aftermath of crisis. Seek empathy, not pity, from people who have been through something similar. Let the people in your life into your life. “It’s up to me to reach for someone’s hand.”

4. Get Moving. Sitting back gets you nowhere. One must get out of bed and out of the house to generate momentum. We have to take responsibility for our actions. “How do I want to live the rest of my life? What steps can I take today?”

5. Give Back. Thriving, not just surviving, requires the capacity to give again, through service and acts of kindness. “How can I be an asset to those around me, and not a drain? Will I ever feel grateful again?” Yes, and by sharing your experience and talents, you will inspire others to do the same.
Of the five, the last step is really the innovation to Jerry's approach and really, I think this step is the most crucial in the recovery process. Contrary to what some have said, I don't think the book answers the question of why bad things happen to good people, but it does provide insight in to how those good people can recover from bad things happening.

The strength of the book is the collection of stories that provide many perspectives on overcoming life's challenges. Jerry has done a fine job of presenting these accounts and weaving them into a strong narrative of perseverance and hope. The reason why I encourage WMD readers to pick up this book is that everybody will have a situation which advice dispensed in this primer will be useful. Nothing will make these dilemmas easy to deal with, but the approach advocated in I Will Not Be Broken is tried and proven to assist in recovery.

Be sure to check out a number of interviews with the author on SurviorCorps' YouTube page. And don't forget to come back to WMD because I know that Doug the Producer is also planning to review the book.