Friday, 11 August 2017

What is Resilience?

Related imageResilience. You may have heard of this word before. To many of us, resilience may mean something along the lines of 'being able to endure hardships and moving forward'. But for some of us, resilience might simply mean having the strength to carry on today and not even thinking about tomorrow. Resilience could mean coping with a negative experience and trying to manage our lives, despite the pain that it may have caused.

I think the easiest and most basic way of looking at resilience is this: we all deal with challenging experiences. Resilience implies some form of emotional, physical, spiritual, and mental coping with these situations that enables us to acknowledge our suffering, but to cope with it and attempt to adapt and adjust our lives accordingly.

Why do I put resilience this way? Because some individuals will try to say that resilience means experiencing something challenging, but then 'forgetting about it' and 'moving on' because the past is in the past, and you are stronger now. While it is true that experiences teach us lessons, it is not - in my opinion - acceptable or effective to tell someone to move on and forget about it. We are a sum of our experiences - positive and negative. It is quite another thing to tell the person that though the challenge was difficult and perhaps traumatizing, it may be helpful to be thankful that the experience is over. Or to reflect on one's ability to navigate through this tough time and to be alive today.

Image result for resilienceResilience, to me, means understanding that tough times can - do most certainly do - occur. When we go through something challenging, we are (of course!) challenged to make decisions: do we give in to the hopelessness and fatigue? Do we fight and try to find a way out? But what if we cannot control what is happening? What if we feel as though we are truly stuck? In those scenarios, resilience means acknowledging that, to be blunt, 'this sucks'. Then, it means looking for a way to cope with the situation. Can you do something - anything - to handle the issue? If you can, do it! If you cannot, how can you cope with the emotions, the pain, and the circumstances that you are now facing?

I will admit: when faced with tough and troubling times, I start to freak out. I am frustrated by what is happening. I am tired of unpredictable and 'sucky' things happening. I get angry with how life is full of problems and trials....and then, I talk to someone I trust. I let out my emotions. I think about my own strengths inside of me - the passion, resilience, and perseverance that has kept me sighting my entire life. I think about the knowledge and skills I have that make me unique and talented. I think about my loyalty and love as a healthcare provider, student, friend, sister, daughter, and young woman. I remember the strength and power of my God, who is above all things and has never - or will ever - leave me. And then, I think about the situation. What can I do? Then I do it. Okay - now, how can I make myself relax a bit? Can I take a break? Can I simply acknowledge that I have done what I can, leave it to God and time, and hope for the best? YES. Because life will always be throwing things our way. And building resilience means dealing with the situation as it comes, letting it play out (assuming you have done what you needed or could do), and looking forward to the next minute of life. Having hope, faith, and trust that things will get better. Because they do. Taking care of myself in in ways that enable me to face challenges and life head-on. Knowing that I am enough.

Related imageThat, to me, is resilience. I am working on building resilience in life - we all have to. I don't think that one day, one will ever be able to say that they are 100% resilient in all situations. But, we can take small steps such as engaging in self-care, catching in negative thoughts, finding ways to remain motivated, etc. in order to build resilience to the hurdles and roller-coasters of life. And once you start doing this, you will realize that some problems in life really aren't that bad at all. Sure, it is unfortunate that they happen. But with the right tools and coping skills, you realize that you are ABLE to overcome this. You are ENOUGH. You are STRONG. You are, my dear reader, RESILIENT.

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