Resilience is an essential component to life because we all experience hardships, change and/or pain. The beauty in the ashes is that we can use these difficulties to build our resilience which continues to serve us along this journey of life. But let’s not be selfish! We are all connected through struggle and with that, it’s our social responsibility to uplift one another by sharing our pain and our progress!
When my husband died, I felt so isolated and alone. I couldn’t find the words to describe what I was going through, and no one else was experiencing this pain so how could they begin to understand what I was feeling. There were countless times I wanted to give up on life, but thankfully God blessed me with a precious son – he was something to fight for, he was there to show me there’s love in dark times and he gave me hope. He was my "Why" and his love gave me the initial courage I needed to start building resilience. (During our unique times of trial, everyone will have a different "Why.")
I share that to tell you that resilience can be learned and nurtured - I know because these strategies worked for me. And as a preface, it's important to NOT rush past what happened. I tried to… I anchored myself so firmly in “being strong” that I avoided a lot of the pain tied to my husband’s death and other losses. This inevitably prolonged my healing; this false sense of strength produced nothing positive, it put me on auto-pilot to simply survive. You see, if we suppress, avoid or ignore the incident, we will never learn to manage our emotions in a healthy way. And if you don't face the hardship of the event, you aren't truly building resilience.
1. Mind shift exercises are major - we have to be cognizant of what we're feeding our mind, heart and soul because our thoughts and our feelings create our lives. Often, people get stuck in misery because all they can focus on is what happened. It's natural for our minds to replay the event, or words, or wallow in the difficult emotions and it's natural to feel sadness, anger or disappointment associated with that incident. However, if you feed yourself hope, motivation and empowerment you can rebuild your spirit.
You can find this "soul food" in various forms: books, videos, motivational speeches, even songs.
2. Keep a gratitude journal. These could be simple or extraordinary moments and they should be both contentment and achievements. Gratitude is key, as most know, to maintain perspective on the good. But the second part: achievements, is absolutely essential to building resilience. You must write down even the smallest "win" because then you can reflect on things you accomplished in the midst of difficulty. This helps build the confidence you need to keep moving forward.
3. Make time for recovery. Rest (recovery) is an area of life that's enormously underestimated (hence why Arianna Huffington wrote the New York Best Seller, The Sleep Revolution). But why is this key to resilience? There are many physical and psychological side effects to grief and emotional distress, which comes as a result of setbacks, change or loss. These side effects take a toll on our entire well being and without rest, you will eventually do more damage. Recovery can be in the form of meditation, sleep or simply being still without distractions.
NOTE: There aren’t any quick fix solutions to recover from life’s challenges. The fact is, you have to practice these strategies and apply them frequently to your life. If you aren’t intentional about strengthening your endurance in life, you are easily giving up on your power.
Remember, resilience is strengthened when difficulties arise, so whenever you are experiencing an incredibly challenging incident don’t view it as a setback but instead see it as a set up for growth.