The Art of Performance: Cesar Millan whispers, 'I’m back'

-A A +A
By Dr. Keith Wilson

You might recognize the name Cesar Millan as the “Dog Whisperer” who made his name as a trainer of difficult dogs. He had his own television show and wrote several books.

Millan had a very unfortunate run of events. He was divorced from his wife of 16 years and estranged from his children, his favorite pit bull died, his television show taken away from him and he found out most of the money he earned was no longer his.

He sank into a deep depression and tried to commit suicide by pill overdose. Clearly, he was at the lowest part of his life. He felt helpless to have any impact on his life or future.

Millan is not the first person to sink to this level of helplessness but he is an example of what it takes to bounce back and regain a grip of on life.

This process of bouncing back is called resilience. Not everyone who endures bad things sinks into deep depression. Not everyone who sinks into deep depression because of loss stays in the emotional state of helplessness. Resilience skills are designed to help individuals endure difficult situations and not move to the thought process of helplessness. They recognize the difficult situation is not permanent.

There are several key factors that help people be more resilient.

First is developing strong relationships. At least a one strong and powerful relationship often is a rock of meaningfulness which allows the person to endure difficult events.

A second part of the recovery process is to change ways of thinking. The thoughts of a person influence their perception of any event. When one allows a negative event to become pervasive, they will believe everything in their world has been negatively impacted. They will believe they are powerless to change any of the dynamics of their life and so they lose hope for the future. This is a very dangerous and debilitating state for a person to sink into. It usually takes some type of training to change the way that people think about the painful and negative events in their lives.

Millan was able to do several things. First, he made the bold move to reconnect with his estranged children. This was difficult, but his hard work paid off. He was able to connect in a new way and his children responded in a positive way. This allowed him to connect to other humans as well. His emotional base was now more than dogs alone. The meaning of his life was significantly changed.

He also learned to change his thinking so each loss he experienced was seen as a single event which made it easier to find strategies to address the challenges each situation encompassed. He was able to regain his sense of hope and future. He knew he could rebuild his life step by step. This is the skill of resilience; enduring painful events and developing post traumatic growth from the experience.

Millan will never get everything back he lost. But he does have a bright future enjoying the new relationships and opportunities he has rebuilt in his life. This is the gift of resilience.

Dr. Wilson is the owner of The Wilson Center for Performance with offices in Radcliff and Louisville. He can be reached at TheWilsonCenter7@aol.com.