Alumni, People, Research

Alumna’s book brings calm to life’s storms

May 11, 2022

Robyne Hanley-Dafoe (submitted photo)

Everyone can achieve – and use – resiliency to overcome life’s challenges.

For Robyne Hanley-Dafoe (EdD’18), she wants to bring this message of hope to those struggling with their circumstances.

Her book, Calm within the storm: A pathway to resiliency, takes a practical approach to resiliency as she shares 20 years of research and teaching to help people navigate life.

Hanley-Dafoe said the book is needed now more than ever because people are facing tremendous stress. Over the last two years, the world has witnessed a pandemic, economic uncertainty, social unrest, and a European war. In addition, organizations are telling staff they must be resilient.

It appears the public agrees with Hanley-Dafoe’s assessment as more than 20,000 copies have been sold in just over a year in publication.

Hanley-Dafoe is a multi-award-winning psychology and education instructor who specializes in resiliency, navigating stress and change, leadership, and personal wellness in the workplace.

Besides her book, Hanley-Dafoe also creates open-sourced white papers and guides as well as articles and podcasts that highlight the key ideas, concepts, and practices that she uses in her work. She also uses practical strategies grounded in global research and case studies to help foster resiliency.

Resiliency means being okay. Above all, it means being grounded to handle the good and tough parts of life, she said.

“You're going to figure it out, which takes the pressure off of feeling everything is important and urgent,” Hanley-Dafoe said. “It's maintaining the perspective that okay is enough.”

Through her research, she’s identified five resiliency traits: having people in your corner, focusing on what matters most, accepting circumstances outside of one’s control as well as having hope and humour.

“I want people to stop carrying the weight of the world on their own,” Hanley-Dafoe said. “I want people to limit comparing themselves to others and conquering expectations. Instead, I want them to live with a deep conviction that they can do hard things.”

Doing the hard things

According to Hanley-Dafoe, people feel pressure to make life look easy. In particular, finding workarounds or solutions to problems causes stress because when it’s difficult to find a solution, people think they’re failing. But that’s the wrong way to look at the issue. Instead, it’s important to understand it’s natural to struggle when finding solutions.

“A learning experience is meant to be disruptive,” Hanley-Dafoe said. “It's messy and complicated, and when we take the time to reflect and learn about it and unpack it, we realize there are some lessons there.”

She also stressed some problems don’t have solutions. However, lessons can still be learned.

Comebacks are possible

Recovery from trauma isn’t instant, warns Hanley-Dafoe. Rather, it’s a process for everyone.

Hanley-Dafoe stresses resiliency means people can change, learn, unlearn, or find other strategies to deal with life’s challenges. In the end, it’s all about hard work.

“We have to have the lived experience and work through those emotions and sometimes we actually need to step back and look critically to understand it.”