Recovering from a major setback or adversity is not an overnight experience.  It is a process that unfolds in stages as you heal.  Sometimes you get stuck; sometimes you surge ahead; sometimes you fall back.  You may find it helpful to look at an overview of the journey you may encounter.  Such a big picture may give you helpful signs that you are ready to bounce back from setbacks.  In fact, it may also help you prepare to thrive.

Dr. Randall Bell, founder of CoreIQ, is developing such an overview through his work with post-traumatic thrivers.  Dr. Bell has made his living helping communities evaluate and plan recovery from some of the world’s most devastating disasters.  Both economist and social scientist, he is the author of “Me-We-Do-Be” and several other titles.  He asked me to join him the other night to augment an earlier interview about our experience after the landslide.  The interview was structured around his new insights into the post-traumatic journey.

The beginning point is, of course, the setback that transforms your life suddenly and unexpectedly.  Dr. Bell calls it a dive.  You can also call it your pit.  After the landslide, I often mentioned that my world had come tumbling down, literally and figuratively.  It’s a shock and you don’t know what to do, who to call, or even begin to comprehend the full impact the event will have in your life.  People put off facing the reality of it all as long as possible.  Six months after the landslide, Katrina devastated New Orleans.  Watching people on the news, I wept for them because they had no idea of what was ahead of them.  They all spoke as if this would be a week long event, not months and years of recovery.  They were furious that enough was not being done to restore them to their regular lives right away.  I had been angry as well, not in the first days but later, when we found there were no easy solutions, no governmental aid for our situation and no insurance to help ease the financial burdens.

For quite some time after a serious event, you are consumed by its aftermath.  The physical aspect is right in front of you.   Instinctively, you know to escape the immediate damage, find shelter for family and pets, and deal with any physical injuries.

But, for us, the emotional toll felt more intense than the physical disruption.  The clear and present danger to our finances terrified me.  I had a pit in my stomach continuously and a terrible time sleeping.  Fear dominated my life.  Fortunately, I was part of a faith community.  Within that supportive group, I received a daily plan of action – a routine – that may have helped me stave off the depression that hits so many after an event like this.  And I was blessed by something else.  Faith – the ability to believe in what you cannot see – provided the strength to get us through this difficult time.

When you are ready to face the aftermath of your setback head on, you will recognize your thoughts and actions as signs that you are ready to bounce back from the situation.  It may take some time.  We were very fortunate.  A timely phone call moved us into the next stage of recovery — survival mode — within a day or two.  We quickly realized that we had to find ways to handle finances and look for resources to either rebuild or move on.  Our clear purpose was to keep our income flowing in order to find a new home, heal from injuries and address legal and financial issues.  We put our heads down and did what we had to do.

Notably, it was also a time of searching for help.  Our attorney told us to find a new rental home for the present as it could take 2 years to work through the problems.  While in that rental house, I studied.  I learned centered prayer, engaged in church activities, professional groups and other community activities.  I went to opportunity meetings to find something that would provide hope that the financial situation could be resolved.   All in all, it took 18 months to move into our new long term ranch.

Once we were in our new home, we felt so lucky to have found a place that was even better for us than our old house.  Actually, we felt blessed.  We were blessed to have developed resilience.   We needed that resilience to recover from illness, depression, fear and the disaster itself.  We were also blessed with the gift of strong purpose that gave us the inner drive and tenacity to persist in spite of obstacles that we encountered.  We were blessed to have a strong support system in our community relationships.   It still took some time to stabilize and believe that we were going to be okay.

During those early days in the house, something else began to happen that Dr. Bell would say took us from just surviving to beginning to thrive.  Peter was able to take the blessing of new space to build up his business potential.  I wanted to find out why we had been able to get through this catastrophe so well. As I searched for an answer, I found I wanted to communicate what I learned to others by whatever means I could – writing a book, producing a podcast, creating a course, speaking online and, of course, blogging.

When you begin to feel those first urges to take up something new or contribute in a new way, you are well on your way to do more than bounce back by bouncing forward into new and uncharted possibilities.  Act on those impulses.  Keep visualizing and acting on those visions and you will rebuild your life and go on to manifest your dreams.  You can do it.  You can thrive.

I believe in you,


About the Author:  Susan Sherayko is a 3 time Emmy nominated executive in charge of production for a daily morning television show.  She is also a life, success, power habits and media coach and author, “Rainbows Over Ruins” in which she shares her journey after a landslide destroyed her home.  Susan helps people release the obstacles in their lives so they can share their message and mission, impact the world and gain the freedom to live the life of their dreams.   For more information on how to foster a vision, act on intention and rebuild your life, check out her podcast Rebuilding Your Life: Moving from Disaster to Prosperity and pick up a FREE GIFT at

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