Resilience: The art of being able to bounce back.
For a long time I felt you either have it or you don’t.
I also felt that your resilience could weaken over time but for some reason never assumed the opposite would be true. Perhaps I had this belief because this was how I really felt. I saw myself as somewhat of a superhero for being able to survive through my childhood but as I became a young adult, I saw myself slowly break down. It was gradual at first but as the years passed, it seemed to become a quicker process. My resilience was getting weaker and weaker to the point of having almost none left at all.
Thankfully this arrival on to rock bottom is where I started to get some real help. I learned something very important. You CAN build your resilience back up. You can take your broken self and begin to piece together tiny scraps of strength. With enough time, patience, and practice, these scraps can become the most beautifully woven king sized blanket.
I am still working towards pieces all these scraps together but it does begin to almost feel normal to start doing healthy things rather than the unhealthy ones that I really thought were working. Change is almost always hard but in this case? I feel it is totally worth it.
Here are a few suggestions for you that may help you build your resistance back up. Don’t try to do them all at one when you first start. Just pick one area that you would really like to work on and start there. As you feel comfortable with each idea, you can add another one in and work on that one too. There is no special prize for being the fastest but there is a HUGE prize for anything that you can make a part of your daily life. Okay? 🙂
- Make connections. Joining in to organizations, churches, a sports league, or any other socially based group helps you to make connections. Those connections can foster hope and help you build your resilience.
- Avoid looking at situations as impossible. Things that happen to us are rarely permanent. Look for any tiny positive that can be taken from each situation. Even if you tripped and fell down a flight of stairs landing you in the hospital, that woudl be terrible but you can find positives by noticing this will be the perfect chance to finish (or start) reading that book you’ve been wanting to read. You could catch up on your phone calls. Have time to play some silly cell phone games or any other small positive. It really does start to change the way you think. This also builds your resilience.
- Learn to accept that change is the only constant in this life. Learning to just roll with each new experience is hard but you can always loosen your grip on keeping things the same and begin to accept that change will always happen. These changes can be a great thing. It means that you can change too. No matter how broken you may feel.
- Move towards your goals. Setting a goal is a beginning and you don’t need to build a rocket ship. Maybe a goal can be to get your house more organized. Try to not be like me and spend two weeks solid exhausting yourself by doing it all at once (I am so guilty of this). Take small chunks every day or two. A drawer a day, a closet each weekend, files for 15 minutes each evening while watching TV. It all moves towards your goal and this accomplishment will make you feel better about yourself.
- Action is required. Sitting around waiting for problems to solve themselves rarely works and the stress of each situation hanging over your head only makes it worse. Make a decision. If you have trouble with this? Ask for help. Everyone should have at least one REALLY opinionated friend. 😉
- Look for opportunities to discover yourself. People who have had many challenges or traumas in their life are actually stronger, wiser, more capable at handling certain situations, are more empathetic, and have a heightened appreciation of life. Don’t ignore these strengths.
- Nurture a positive view of yourself. Start paying attention to what you are good at. If you just hang your head and say “nothing”, think again. EVERYONE has a gift. This builds resilience.
- Keep things in perspective. Try to see the bigger picture and avoid blowing things out of proportion. A question I ask myself often is “Will this situation/event even matter in a day, a month or a year?” “Will I even remember it?” This really helps me distinguish between a good reason to freak out and a bad one.
- Maintain a hopeful outlook. Give your time and attention to positive goals and events that you can look forward to. If you are not naturally an optimist? You can change that.
- Take care of yourself. This is a HUGE one. By treating yourself well, doing activities you enjoy, spending quality time with good friends, taking breaks when you need it, and having quiet time to regroup plays a huge role in how you deal with stressful situation. You don’t want your nerves to be so frayed that you just snap. You want to try to have yourself so well taken care of that your resilience can shine through.