Interview with Dr Adair f. White-Johnson: On thriving in spite of circumstances

Vera: Your core expertise is helping people push past pain and get over it. What would you say is the fundamental reason why people struggle to bounce back from adversity?

Dr Adair: I would say fear, confusion, and doubt are the key elements that stagnate the emotional, psychological, spiritual, personal and professional growth of people.  I’ve been taught that a “confused mind does nothing” and since many people allow their fear to paralyze their faith, they struggle with figuring out how to bounce back.


Vera: A core target group of your work is teenagers and young adults. As they are not exactly mature, how can they overcome any deep pain they may experience?

Dr Adair: I think a lot of it depends on the pain that they are experiencing.  The deeper the pain and more complex the problem, the more effort has to be placed on the healing process.  I firmly believe that when we are in pain, we have to treat it as trauma and address it as such.  Teens/young adults must first recognize the problem and the source of their pain and then connect with someone who loves, likes or cares about them to perhaps serve as their support system as they begin the healing process.  They should take it one day at a time, one feeling at at time. Every little positive change they make in their lives will eventually reduce the negativity that may engulf their lives.


Vera: As a former school counselor what’s your take on what more schools could be doing to groom more resilient children?

Dr Adair: I would say create and develop more programmes that embrace the ideology that what many of these children and teens have experienced is actually trauma and should be treated as such. As a school counselor I discovered many programmes that focused on raising the self-esteem levels of the students but did not offer lessons/activities or guidance on meeting the students at the most basic needs such as safety and security and the associated feelings. Without acknowledging and addressing this, I think that it is challenging to teach children how to become more resilient and to “keep their chin up” and press through the daily activities where they are emotionally compromised.


Vera: When people are in difficulty they tend to ask victim mindset questions such as ‘why me’. As a self-avowed ‘Empowerologist’ what are some of the most effective questions you’ve used to get out of harrowing situations so to speak?

Dr Adair: Hmmmm….That’s a tough one.  When faced with adversity, I try not to blame others and I really don’t blame myself. I rely on the power of positive thinking to enable me to think about how to make the situation better.  With that in mind, I tend to ask questions that will lead me towards my next move…towards positive change. Questions such as; What Happened?  What has been the hardest thing for me?  What do I think needs to happen next? Once empowered with the responses I can begin to create an action plan for change and knowing that I have a plan has always made me feel better and stronger.


Vera: You believe that when one won’t let go of their past, that is a form of being self-absorbed. How does one get over him/herself when they are hurting and can’t see any way out?

Dr Adair: Stand in your truth.  Know who you are and what you believe.  For me, my strength to release the negative toxins from my life is faith based.  I learned long ago to “Let go and Let God.”  If you truly believe that God has ordered your steps and created unique, individual path just for you in this life, then you will know that at the end of it all “everything will be alright.”  I also created the G.O.H.A.R.D. System of Change, a system that focuses on moving one towards positive change and becoming “unstuck.” Through this system I teach people strategies on Getting over themselves, Overcoming odds, creating Healthy balances, controlling Anger, Resilience, restoration, renewal forgiving techniques, building dreams and reaching Destiny points – to become unstuck.


Vera: How does one make positive choices where all they’ve ever witnessed is those in their environment making poor choices?

Dr Adair: I understand what you are saying but it’s really about a mindset. You have to change the way you think before you can change the way you behave, so you must begin to think about your situation and your life differently before change can occur.  It also goes back to faith and believing in what you have already been equipped and empowered to do in your life and creating a plan of action to make it happen.


Vera: One of the tools you’ve created is the wheel of Resiliency which helps your clients among other things to ‘reach destiny points’- what are destiny points, how does one get there and how will one know they have reached there?

Dr Adair: Destiny points are the places in life where your dreams are leading you.  They are the points that will bring you happiness and self-fulfillment – in spite of whatever you have been through in your life.  You see, you are not special because you have gone through “stuff” in your life…You are special for so many other reasons.  If you follow your designated path you will get there and you will know that you are there when you have achieved your goals and you are at peace with yourself.


Vera: In your book, ‘Get over it’, you talk about having tried to commit suicide at 12 years old. What kind of situations were harder for you to deal with earlier in life  that you now take in your stride now and what’s made that difference?

Dr Adair: My life as a child was not a reality that I created for myself.  It was a world that as a child I had to live in and as a result, I created “rules” in my life as an adult that avoid  negative toxins such as violence that were an active component of my world as a child. As a teenager and adult I have never really allowed violence or abuse in my world. I play by my own rules. The difference that has been made has been my mindset and I no longer doubt my own strength and wisdom. Since I “know better, I do better” now and I no longer live in fear of what tomorrow may bring.  I couldn’t do that before and I think that knowing this has made the greatest difference in my life.


Vera: You’ve triumphed over some difficult times in your life. What are you most proud of having done to get to where you are now?

Dr Adair:  Hmmm….I think that my consistent belief that whatever was tossed in my lane I could “Get Over It.”  My faith in my God and the steps that He ordered for me has never wavered.  Even in the darkest nights and the tumultuous days, I always leaned on my triple shields of grace, faith and mercy and always knew that somehow, some way, everything would be okay.  I’ve watched many people over the years simply “give up” in similar circumstances. I’ve walked away from people, things and situations that have been hurtful but I’ve never given up or changed the path that I knew was created just for me.  I’m proud that I’ve been able to hang in there and that my story can help to change the lives of others.


Dr Adair’s profile

Dr. Adair f. White-Johnson is a multiple bestselling author, Publisher, Motivational Speaker and a leading authority on empowering individuals to move towards positive change, become resilient and to bounce back after hitting rock bottom. She is Founder of The Empowerment House where she coaches women and teens through life changes, to operate and thrive in spite of their circumstances and to become successful individuals. Dr. Adair is the creator of an Empowerment and Resiliency curriculum for teens aligned with the current National Common Core Standards as well as the American School Counselor Association National Model. As a Professional School Counselor, she received many academic and civic awards.  She is author of several bestsellers including “How to Get Over It! in 30 Days series, Teen Dating Violence and Academic Achievement and White Girl Speaks! Powerful Words of Inspiration for Leadership and Success in your Life. More about Dr Adair’s work at


For more information on Vera Ng’oma’s work and resources in leadership, personal and career development and excellence building, click here.