Hays: Nurture resilienceWritten by Pam Hays | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Each of us reacts differently to problems. Whether it’s a job loss, an illness or a death of a loved one, people with resilience are able to harness inner strengths and rebound more quickly from a challenge, stress or traumatic event. People who are less resilient may dwell on problems, feel victimized, become overwhelmed and turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms. They may even be more inclined to develop mental health problems.
Being resilient won’t make your problems go away, but it can give you the ability to see past them, find some enjoyment in life and handle future stressors better. We all know people who are able to bounce back from almost anything and others who seem to fall apart over the simplest of things.
Resilience is the ability to adapt well to challenges and trauma; it is not about toughing it out or living by old clichés, such as “making lemonade out of lemons.” It doesn’t mean denying your feelings of sadness or loss. Nor does it mean you have to always portray yourself as strong by not asking for support from others. Being willing to reach out to others is a key component of being resilient.
There is a misunderstanding about resiliency and how resilient people should act or feel. You can’t tell someone to not feel a certain way. Yelling “Stop your crying” at a frustrated child rarely works to stop the flow of emotions and all you are teaching them is to hide their feelings. Honest feelings that are suppressed can manifest themselves in ways that have a negative impact, including on our ability to relate to others beyond what is superficial. When we work through our emotions and don’t label them “good” or “bad,” we can find balance and resilience.
If you can adapt to change easily and feel in control of your life; if you have close, dependable relationships and remain optimistic and keep trying even if things look hopeless; if you can think clearly and logically under pressure, have a healthy self-esteem and a good sense of humor under pressure; or if you can “bounce back” after pressure or trauma, you are on the right path to becoming resilient. The more of these attributes you possess, the more resilient you are according to a resiliency rating scale by the Mayo Clinic. If you don’t see yourself in these traits, it is not too late to nurture resilience.
Becoming more resilient can lead to a life filled with more forgiveness, less bitterness, more focus and direction, increased passion for life and emotional buoyancy. Picture a balloon filled with helium. The balloon can float and bounce through the winds to reach new heights and the lowest of lows during its flight. Now, picture a balloon filled with just air, not helium. That balloon will never reach the heights it could have if it were more buoyant. The balloon falls and stays grounded until completely deflated. You are the balloon; resilience is your helium.
Do things you enjoy and nurture your body so when you call on it to respond to stressors, it will respond positively. Make your conversations with yourself as caring as you would for others. Be your own best friend.
Life is not a straight line; when you lose your rigidity and expect a certain amount of uncertainty, you can accept, adapt and overcome! Take action when needed and don’t ignore the problems facing you. Don’t give more weight to your problems than they deserve. Mountains can turn into molehills if you change your focus and direction.
Pam Hays is president and founder of The Arms Forces, www.thearmsforces.org; (419) 891-2111.