Do you ever wonder what it takes to “bounce back” from a really difficult or painful experience?
That ability to “bounce back” and persevere from unexpected challenges, hardships and traumas is most commonly known as Resilience. Resilience is the process by which a person adapts to adversity through the use of multiple strategies including: coping skills, mindfulness and stress-reduction practices, self-care rituals and, most importantly, social support and connection.
Notice how I didn’t say that resilience is the absence of struggle or adversity? Nor is it the absence of emotional pain. Because all of us, my friends, face struggle and hardship throughout our lives – it is after all, a part of the human package! Resilience doesn’t “take the pain away” or guarantee that we will never experience struggle. Rather, it helps us become better equipped to face those challenges while having confidence in ourselves knowing that we will make it through to the other side.
Resilience is not built in a day nor is it a “trait” with which we are born. The American Psychological Association notes that resilience is a process of development involving our thoughts, our behaviors and our actions. In other words, you need to attend to it, strengthen it, and importantly, learn to understand what it is you need to feel safe, supported and connected.
Start by noting the people in your life who make up your support system. That could be your therapist, your partner, your best friend, a sibling or someone in your community. The people in your life who have earned your trust and who you feel safe confiding in during your darkest hour. Secondly, make a list of the coping skills you know to be effective for you. These could be daily meditation practice, deep breathing, or distraction skills. Keep that list handy and make sure to practice these skills often so that they feel accessible to you in a moment of crisis. Lastly, consider how you take care yourself. Make a list of what you do to relax, de-stress and attend to your needs. Self-love is critical in the development of your resilience.
Remember, building resilience is a process and is a continuous work in progress.
The beautiful piece to remember is that resilience allows us to face struggle, and the complicated emotions that accompany it, with the ability to come out on the “other side” having learned something and perhaps having created new meaning and purpose in our lives.
The outcome? A stronger, happier and healthier you!