“Resilience is that ineffable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever. Rather than letting failure overcome them and drain their resolve, they find a way to rise from the ashes. Psychologists have identified some of the factors that make someone resilient, among them a positive attitude, optimism, the ability to regulate emotions, and the ability to see failure as a form of helpful feedback. Even after a misfortune, blessed with such an outlook, resilient people are able to change course and soldier on.” ~Psychology Today~
Today, resilience has been on my mind. Why do some people seem to thrive and grow and keep moving forward despite unfortunate life circumstance? The answer is that they possess a quality called resilience, that springy, bounciness that has them back up on their feet quickly after a fall, dusting themselves, and moving forward stronger than before. Resilient people are the Timex watches of the world; They take a licking and keep on ticking. Resilient people are beautiful, and I know a lot of them. I am a resilient person, too. They do not turn to anger, and bitterness, and blame of the world, and everyone in it, when life is less than ideal, either by uncontrollable circumstances, or because of their own mistakes and poor choices. Resilient people do not just take lemons and turn them into lemonade. No, instead they make a lemon mousse with a blueberry coulis 😉
What constitutes resilience? In a nutshell, it is the ability to cope with unfortunate life events without getting dragged down to too long. Resilience comes more easily for some people, both emotional and physical resilience. Some people are just born more naturally optimistic, positive, and flexible. Some people learn resilience along the way, as life provides more experiences from which to recover. Age plays a factor in resilience, as does experience at surviving and thriving. When we’ve been through a lot, and we’ve kept going, and remained hopeful, and optimistic, and see that behavior works better than blaming or negativity, we develop more traits associated with resilience.
Yes, resilient people have certain traits. First off, they are aware of their own emotions, and what causes them, and they learn to manage them. This may take more time for some, especially the managing part. I was always aware of my emotions, and generally aware of where they were coming from, but learning to manage them took, and still takes, time. I am a sensitive, and fairly reactive, very expressive person. However, I am also easy going. As my sister says, “For a high strung person, you’re incredibly easy going.” It’s true. I don’t sweat the small stuff, and the older I get, the more I realize most of it is small stuff. “It’s not the end of the world,” is a phrase I say out loud many times a day. Trust me. It’s really not.
Resilient people persevere. They do not give up often, or easily. I often liken myself to one of those blow up clowns with sand in the bottom. You punch them and punch them but they just pop right back up. My ability to pop back up time and again is because I never lose hope. I often say that I am a “Hope springs eternal” kind of gal, and that’s true, too. Resilient people, no matter how low they go, always have hope that tomorrow is going to be better, so they keep pushing forward towards that tomorrow.
Resilient people are internally focused. What that means is that, instead of looking out at the world, blaming and shaming finger pointed at anything and everyone who crosses their path, they know inside that they are in control of their lives, their choices, their outcomes. This isn’t done with perfection, or 100% of the time, and for many their are occasional missteps where the locus moves to the external, at what’s happening to them. However, the resilient person won’t stay in the external for long. They will go back inside themselves, examine their role in what’s going on, and begin problem solving. They will find a solution, often through a change in their own attitude, or behavior. That is why resilient people grow from mistakes, and poor choices and behaviors, and from life itself.
A resilient person will always find a bright side to any circumstance. We are positive, optimistic people. At the same time, perhaps because of this life view, resilient people have good support systems of friends, family, and others who are like minded, and who help shore them up during those experiences in life that we label “bad.”
Resilience is essential to recovery, whether it be from alcoholism and addiction, loss, trauma and abuse. It’s my belief that everyone is in recovery from something, whether it be a job loss, a bad work evaluation, a divorce, or a stubbed toe, and bad traffic on the way to work. Resilience allows us accept even undesirable outcomes, forgive, move on, and finally let go, usually coming out better and strong for the experience. Resilient people are bright, shiny, and sparkling. The don’t hold grudges, and they do not look back for too long. They are not trapped by their past, a slave to their present, and they don’t worry a lot about the future.
I don’t know if I emerged from the womb a resilient person. I think I probably had the traits on the delivery table. Life’s hard knocks began early, and I learned some pretty crummy coping mechanisms along the way, though they are probably what kept me alive. I’ve done anger, and blame at points in my life and I HATED how that felt. I never could hold a grudge 😉 I have always had hope. I have always known it was going to get better. I have always kept going even when others thought it impossible, that I’d never make it through alive this time. I have learned how to be more resilient with each tough experience, and with each tough experience I have become more myself.
Today, I am celebrating resilience, and resilient people. Without God and resilience, I would not be here today. If you are a resilient person, celebrate that today, even if you’re in the middle of yet another storm. If you’re not the most resilient person in the world, you CAN learn resilience! It will take work, but it will be worth every moment of it!