If so, Bernadette Petrie hopes that learning about the Stockdale Paradox will give you the motivation to have faith, get real and feel glad on the other side.

I’m under no illusion that we still have some way to go to regain global normality, yet I have faith that the future will be very bright indeed. James Stockdale was the most senior American POW at The Hilton Hanoi POW camp during the Vietnam war and spent eight years there. In an interview with Jim Collins, author of Beyond Entreprenship 2.0, he was asked how he survived. He said; “I never lost faith in the end of the story. I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life, which, in retrospect, I would not trade.” Jim went on to ask him who didn’t survive and he replied “the optimists”. If you are still in denial about the months and next year ahead, this is the part you might want to read;  You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end – which you can never afford to lose – with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.” Some of those POW optimists died of a broken heart. ‘We’ll be home by Christmas’, we’ll be home by Easter’ – none of which would happen. James Stockdale thought differently, he had huge faith but wasn’t afraid to look at the reality, yet he survived and went on to thrive and live a long happy life. 

Ten years ago I had a nervous breakdown. I was a wreck, I had been for several months, but on the evening I was admitted to the Glasgow Priory I felt sure this was the beginning of a whole new story. I was scared but sensed this was a defining point in my life which, in retrospect, I would not trade either. I would not have become a life coach, created The Barefoot Sanctuary or written my first book – Permission To Shine. Nor would you be reading this column.  

Being admitted to a psychiatric clinic was a crisis point in my time line. Yet I felt very calm, because in the days leading to this I rediscovered faith, and deep down I understood, that as a scary as this was, I would prevail. I have always been an optimist and that optimism could have crushed me in the days, weeks months and years to follow. But what became clear to me, and prepared me for the months and years ahead, was faith and acceptance. I needed to build my life back, day-by-day. This was a marathon – not a sprint. 

I am grateful for my experience of depression and anxiety – the events that led to what happened in 2010. And, I’ve leaned on the faith and understanding I gained from that time throughout the last year. Becoming aware of the Stockdale Paradox encouraged me to take fresh stock of what may still come in 2021 and beyond, and for that reason, this optimist has once again been humbled. As we approach summer, I’m going to cherish what I can do, what I can experience and create, and take life day-by-day. We still have some way to go, but by getting real, we will get to the other side. With love 

Bernadette Petrie is the creator of The Barefoot Sanctuary and author of Permission To Shine, available at all online book stores | www.thebarefootsanctuary.co.uk