Throughout my ongoing personal journey of grief and loss, I’ve discovered that there is a universal commonality. We are all resilient. It’s amazing, it’s comforting, and it’s also mind-boggling. How can we, in the depths of our despair, manage the mundane?
In my work with divorcing couples, I try to empathize without sounding condescending. Telling someone that “time heals all wounds” is not only unhelpful, it’s downright wrong. Instead, I say that “time helps.” Regardless of the nature of your loss, from the temporary to the unimaginable, we all are able to put one foot in front of the other and take a step towards whatever is ahead.
Dictionary.com defines it as “the ability of a person to adjust to or recover readily from illness, adversity, major life changes, etc.“
I define it as the natural inclination of the human spirit.
Resilience is also significant in the workplace. Employers, thankfully, appear to be more willing than ever to address mental health issues. (Thank you, Millennials!) When running a business, it is essential to understand that an environment of job satisfaction results in increased productivity. Providing resources for mental health counseling and offering compassionate leadership which includes rewarding excellence and honoring resilience is becoming more and more vital to the workforce.
After 9-11, we demonstrated our resilience by adapting to new national security requirements. And of course, the way we’ve been handling the pandemic has also proven our resilience.
Can we improve our ability to bounce back? Maybe easier said than done, but I’m hopeful (one of the necessary skills tor resilience, by the way). Here are some suggestions:
Be proactive about potentially looming problems. Instead of wallowing in worry, resilient people get their ducks in a row. Think about the various scenarios that may play out and rehearse your responses to each one.
Take care of yourself. When you find yourself in a down cycle (as we sometimes do), create your own style of resilience by doing something for yourself. It can be as simple as a hot bubble bath with the door locked, or as structured as scheduling a spa day.
Do something productive or meaningful every day. And while you’re at it, think about giving something back. Volunteer, plant flowers in your yard, write in a journal, go for a walk, or reconnect with an old friend. The possibilities are endless, and each little thing supports resilience.
Get help. If you’ve tried to bounce back and you somehow are having difficulty, reach out. Resilient people are patient, and they’re also realistic. Counselors, therapists, psychologists, pastors, rabbis, and grandmothers are all capable in their own ways to pass on tools to help you cope and ultimately bounce back.
Take a look at the image I shared of the slinky. Remember when you were a kid and your slinky could “walk” down a flight of stairs by itself? Could it climb back up by itself? Sometimes we need a hand to encourage our own resilience.
Excellent piece and advice. It is remarkable about the human spirit, being able to bounce back, even in baby steps. I’ve also discovered that when people say “Is there anything I can do for you, just ask,” They usually mean it. Friends do want to help.
I especially like your advice about playing out different scenarios and rehearsing your responses. Once spoken, it cannot be taken back. (That’s one reason I don’t prefer to talk on the phone….my mouth does not have an edit button)
Thank you for your comments, Susan! You’re so right about simply asking for what you need. Friends and family actually WANT to help!
As you age ( hopefully) you’ll learn to understand that you ONLY have control over yourself and your attitude. Decide what’s important to you and your loved ones and what’s not. Unfortunately it seams to take experience and age to realize.
I agree 100%, Rick!
Having worked in nursing for 25 years in a Psychiatric hospital I learned early that we can only control our own thoughts and actions. I also learned that we need to get the thing between our ears in gear before the thing under our nose starts going. Everyone hears what we say differently according to their own life experiences. Stop, take a breath then say what you want to say. Saves a lot of explaining what you meant afterward.
Not sure how your observations relate to resilience, Jay, but good thoughts nonetheless! Thank you for commenting.