How We Can Have Fulfilling Lives Even After Trials And Troubles
The past year has been a wild ride, and no one has escaped struggle. Living through a global pandemic is no small feat! But now that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, we all have the opportunity to learn and grow from our experiences, using them to make our futures brighter and more hopeful than ever before.
The key to doing this is resilience. But what exactly is resilience? In this article, we’ll go over what it is, what it isn’t, and how to cultivate this wonderful characteristic in yourself.
What Is Resilience?
Resilience is defined as being able to withstand and recover from adversity and unexpected negative events. While some people seem to be more naturally resilient than others, the truth is that everyone is born with at least some degree of resilience. And like any inborn trait, resilience can be cultivated over the course of a person’s lifetime, so that what once was a weakness can be turned into strength.
In the words of Dr. Steven Wolin, a Washington D.C. based psychiatrist, “[resilient people have] the capacity to rise above adversity—sometimes the terrible adversity of outright violence, molestation or war—and forge lasting strengths in the struggle. It is the means by which children of troubled families are not immobilized by hardship but rebound from it, learn to protect themselves and emerge as strong adults, able to lead gratifying lives.”
What Resilience Isn’t
Being resilient doesn’t mean that you don’t struggle at all. In fact, some of the deepest, most meaningful change and perspective is forged in the hottest fires of suffering. Khalil Gibran, a world-renowned writer, once said that “out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” But that doesn’t mean that they didn’t struggle, or ask “why is this happening to me?” Sometimes life is just brutally, back-breakingly, crushingly hard, and being resilient doesn’t mean that you have to waltz through those times, singing as you go. Resilient people struggle. But in the end, they rise up as better people.
Dr. Wolin says that “resilient people don’t walk between the raindrops; they have scars to show for their experience. They struggle—but keep functioning anyway. Resilience is not the ability to escape unharmed. It is not about magic.”
How Can We Cultivate Resilience In Ourselves?
Over the last year, we’ve all had many opportunities to become more resilient – and it’s likely that we’ll all have more opportunities to do so in the future as well. Here are some suggestions that you can practice in your own life to become more resilient:
- Practice Relaxing – our body is powerful, and when we experience stress, its tension can signal to our brain to stay on high alert even if we’re not actually under threat. This often manifests itself as anxiety. When you’re in a stressful or emotional situation, notice how your body is reacting. Are your hands balled into fists? Are your shoulders or legs tense? Is your heartbeat racing, your breathing rapid? When you notice these unconscious reactions, try to calm your body by consciously relaxing your muscles and taking deep, calming breaths. Once your body is calm, it becomes easier to focus your mind and see things with a clearer perspective.
- Believe In Your Own Abilities – resilient people believe that they have the tools to meet the challenges of life. They understand that the struggle doesn’t make them bad or incompetent, and they don’t expect that they’ll be good at facing every one of life’s stages and problems. But they believe that they can get through them, even if that means crashing through. Often, resilient people also believe in something bigger than themselves, whether that be God, Nature, or anything that gives them a sense of reverence and purpose.
- Find A Good Social Network – We can’t overstate the importance of good people that know you and love you. Trusted family and friends are a must! And again, don’t hesitate to reach out to a trusted therapist or counselor as well.
- Maintain Your Independence – Resilient people tend to not see themselves as victims. They take responsibility for their emotions and actions and do their best to put themselves in positions where they can grow and thrive – even after experiencing adversity. They also draw healthy boundaries between themselves and people or actions that have caused them struggles in the past.
How have you been resilient throughout your life? If you’re willing to share your experiences in the comments below, we would love to hear from you! And if you would like to talk with one of our counselors, please reach out via email or by calling our office at 307-631-5574.