What is resilience and how do you strengthen it?
Updated: Sep 13, 2021
What do you think Resilience is?
Google states It is the capacity to recover from difficulties, to withstand adversity, and bounce back from stressful and unimaginable life events.
Why is this important to us? Well, it is the key to bringing us back to our best selves where we can live our best lives. We all need resilience to walk through life with our heads held high.
Being resilient does not mean we don’t experience stress and endure traumatic experiences. It doesn't mean we don’t experience emotional or physical suffering, upheaval, and loss. It means resilient people are able to tap into their strengths, support systems and learn strategies so they can overcome challenges and work through problems resulting from how the brain and body are negatively impacted by our stressful environments and traumatic experiences.
Interestingly, experience with trauma increases our resilience meaning we become stronger from these experiences. So you can be grateful right now that this is the most resilience you have ever accumulated and the least you will ever have meaning tomorrow you will have more.
If you have experienced a time in your life when you experienced something tragic yet now have recovered and you can talk about it, that is your resilience.
For those of you who listen to Miley Cyrus, she sings a song called, “The Climb” that symbolizes what resilience in life looks like. Here are the Lyrics, thank you, Miley.
”The Climb” by Miley Cyrus
The dream I’m dreaming…
But there is a voice inside my head saying, “you will never reach it”.
Every step I am taking, every move I am making feels lost with no direction.
My faith is shaking but I gotta keep trying, I’ve got to keep my head held high.
There will always be another mountain and I’m always going to want to make it move.
And there is always going to be an uphill battle and sometimes I’m going to have to lose.
And it ain't about how fast I get there, or what is waiting on the other side.
It’s the climb…
When I read these lyrics out loud for myself I cried. Not because they made me sad, but because they made me grateful for the resilience I have built within myself.
The truth is you are always becoming and it's not as much about reaching the other side as it is about the climb because the climb is the person you are becoming. There is so much power in that because so many of us shift from that survivor or victim mentality to a thriver mentality through this climb. What does the survivor or victim mentality say? It says something is in the way of me reaching my vision of who I am and other people or consequences are to blame for my misfortunes. It is saying I won’t be happy until I get there and I can't get there through the obstacles I face. I need other people who will meet me in my pain and give me permission to stay in it where I get my understanding of support having others tell me it’s ok to stay stagnant where I feel supported as long as I have others who allow me to sit in my suffering and coddle me, protect me and assure me they are my greatest system for feeling good about not finding the courage and personal desire to activate my own accountability. I can only be happy, share my true feelings, feel safe, no longer be judged, punished, invisible, ashamed, scared, or in pain, if I can change which is impossible for me.
This attitude keeps us from growing new habits, structures, and foundations that keep us in check so we can live the life we want to and do the things we need to but the truth is it's the process, the growth in lifestyle, the celebrating of the choices you are making every day that are different that are creating your resilience and evolution …. That is your climb. It is the climb itself that brings you happiness, courage, self-esteem, confidence, trust, integrity, pride, passion, motivation, and inner strength. All of this happens the day you start your climb, there is no having to wait for it at some unforeseen end. It starts happening now with your first step, your first commitment to yourself.
I want to share with you some amazingly simple tips you can take with you during your week.
There is actually one thing most of us do when we are going through adversity and that is, at times we think this is just happening to us like I am the only one going through this. This thought actually often makes us feel compelled not to be resilient because we are saying, “why is this happening to me, I can’t do this”
Resilient people tend to get into the mindset of I am not the only one going through this and I know life comes with its challenges. It’s that ability to understand, yes there are going to be these days, these moments, and when we frame it like that it is not as overwhelming anymore.
Recognize you are not unique or special, ( you are unique and special and don’t let anyone tell you that you are different), but you are not unique and special in the sense that you are the only one who is going through this and there is power and comfort in knowing you are not alone and being in community with each other is an excellent way in building your resilience after experiencing traumatic events. The shift is not so visible, it is felt and heard and you will see a change in your presence. That comes from recovering in the community. Life is not just happening to you, it's happening to all of us. We are all in this together and we can gain strength from each other.
Realize the things you can change versus what you cannot change and don’t confuse the two. You can change and get out of that crevice. Sometimes we can fall into a crevice in life and one way to climb out is by writing daily just three things we are grateful for. Studies have shown that people who do this over the course of 6 months, show increased levels of gratitude and decreased levels of depression. That means your resilience improves because you are framing things differently. You can actually choose how you perceive your world. You can decide to focus on what you are grateful for even in those challenging moments. It can be hard to do, especially if you are sick or injured, overwhelmed or traumatized but you can make that choice. It's not an easy thing but it is a doable thing that will greatly reduce your suffering and we get to choose our hard, or how we want to experience what is hard. I know I made the choice to experience the hard of change instead of the hard of staying the same. It was the cornerstone in the reduction of my suffering and my own recovery and evolution.
The way you perceive your life is your choice, You can actually decide how you are going to see and interpret it. Why? Because the way you see and interpret things changes your perception of your experience and when you do this your resilience improves.
This one is powerful and so simple. Ask yourself, is this helping me or is this hurting me? It may be a simple thing. You may have gone through grief and keep going back to the past pictures of your lost loved one which brings back all the pain you feel. I am talking about myself right now and this brought me back to the raw and painful emotions of yesterday where I was not able to live in the present moment and achieve what I needed to achieve. It was a good decision to stop looking at the pictures because it helped me grow beyond my pain until I was healed enough to look at the pictures in a way that brought me joy instead of pain. Understanding you have a choice in your behaviors and patterns where you can decide to stop doing things that bring you pain is a powerful tool.
In this way, you can pull through even the most seemingly insurmountable obstacles and discover the untapped and infinite strength you have within yourself where you create the ability, by working in the community with people who share similar obstacles to become stronger, more confident, self-reliant, healthier, less punishing, reduce pain both physical and psychological and uncover broader perceptions using the skills and strategies of growth mindset, updated skill sets, communication skills and sustainability practices designed to ensure you reach the qualities of life, love, accurate self-expression, respect, and safety you may have lost faith in tapping into.
It takes a community of survivors and thrivers, sharing their experience, strength, knowledge, and wisdom with each other to maintain positive forward momentum in creating a life where suffering is exchanged for curious observation so we can learn the lesson we were offered from the traumatic experience we endured. It is by learning from our experiences instead of being punished by them that we find strength, value, integrity, and confidence in our decisions so we can make choices that serve ourselves in creating our best lives and passing these skills onto our children so they too can learn how to overcome trauma and build resilience.
Once we are able to talk about how we recovered, allowing our stories of triumph to inspire those who are in their beginning stages of life’s many recoveries where shame, blame, guilt, anger, resentment judgment, and remorse reside. Understanding these negative emotions hold us back instead of propelling us forward is key to moving towards a complete and satisfying life while repairing relationships that have been injured due to our challenging circumstances.
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