Off the coast of Italy a volcanic eruption many years ago now show despite the harmful gases that bacteria, fish, sea plants and a whole ecosystem exists. Nature has a way of bringing forth life after devastation. Resilience at its best. In July 2020 we had our wedding plans to say ‘I do’ in Santorini, The Greek Island stolen from us due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We have now spent to date our entire marriage in the confines of this global pandemic. International boarder closures, lockdown, numerous virus variants and balancing the act of working from home. We all need that resilience pill overdose in this season. Courtesy of Wikipedia: ‘Psychological resilience is the ability to mentally or emotionally cope with a crisis or to return to pre-crisis status quickly. Resilience exists when the person uses mental processes and behavior in promoting personal assets and protecting self from the potential negative effects of stressors.
Oh wow so eloquently described but just how do we put this into practice? Life is complex even without a pandemic in the whirlwind. A survey conducted by Everyday Health, in partnership with The Ohio State University, found that 83 percent of Americans believe they have high levels and emotional and mental resilience. In reality, only 57 percent scored as resilient. Physical resilience refers to the body’s ability to adapt to challenges and recover quickly. Community resilience refers to the ability of groups of people to respond to and recover from adverse situations, such as natural disasters, acts of violence, or economic hardship.
Despite having tools to predict our resilience levels, we are all wired differently and what maybe a reflection in this hour maybe incorrect later that same day. So learn to gauge your own internal vector. Being resilient does not mean that people don’t experience tension, emotional commotion, and distress. Some people equate resilience with mental toughness, but demonstrating resilience includes working through emotional pain and suffering. Living out that demonstration is key. Resilience is not a status update, where you’re on one moment and off the next. It’s more like hiking a mountain without a trail map and the conditions are against you. It takes focus, time, grit, and support from people around you, and you will most likely experience setbacks along the way. But eventually you reach the top and look back at how far you have come. Perseverance is the buzz word.
Resilience is vital because it gives people the forte required to process and overcome adversity. Those lacking resilience get certainly overwhelmed, and may turn to unwholesome survival mechanisms. Resilient people tap into their strengths and support systems to overcome challenges and work through problems. Scientists have discovered sea slugs witch sometimes detach their head and regrow their entire body, according to a study published in the Current Biology journal.
While we know of many instances of this process, called “autotomy,” such as when lizards regrow their tails. It is suspected they use photosynthesis to survive while their organs are re-growing. Granted we are a different species but we can absorb from this process. In the name of survival let go of what does not serve you, use what you have to maintain yourself and always grow something new. Life becomes a lot simpler when you decide to let people misunderstand you and circumstances underestimate you – concentrate on what edifies your soul. Come out of several rodeos with ample experience and skills to charter through high water and the resilience badge. Make the commitment to forge fortresses from the fragments of your fellowship and friendships. Create the resolution to never hit these two buttons by default: panic and snooze at any season in life. As slow as the slug is, he is re-growing its body. Stay focused on the goal – even if you are moving at slug pace. You are moving and that’s all that matters. Rise up each morning, making a small step closer to your goal. The 7 Cs resilience model was developed by pediatrician Ken Ginsberg, MD, to help children and adolescents build resilience. Learning competence, confidence, connection, character, contribution, coping, and control is how Ginsberg says we can build inner strength and utilize outside resources — regardless of age. Use this as your foundation building to create your powerhouse of resilience. Look to those who walked before you and glean from their life and lessons, how you can better equip yourself to wear the fragrance of resilience. Deeply hurt by the death of her mother, thirty five year old Agatha Christie was still trying to overcome her grief when her husband of twelve years suddenly announced that he was in love with another woman and wanted a divorce. The twin shocks threw Agatha into a deep state of depression. Feeling that the best of life was behind her, she saw little reason to go on living. Only concern for her seven-year-old daughter saved her from suicide. In time Agatha began to recover from the pain of her failed marriage. She resumed writing and, to boost her spirits, took a trip on the Orient Express. Then, in 1930 a friend invited her to come along on a trip to an archaeological dig in Iraq. There she met Max Mallowan, a prominent archaeologist thirteen years her junior. They fell in love and were married later that year, a happy marriage that would last until Agatha’s death 46 years later. At the end of 1926, Agatha Christie may have thought that her life was no longer worth living, but she was entirely wrong about that. In the years that followed she not only found the love of her life, but she also enjoyed her greatest success, becoming the best-loved author on earth, with over 70 best-selling novels as well as the longest-running play in history. Her husband Max was knighted in 1968 and three years later Agatha was made a Dame of the British Empire. Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller Christie Mallowan died at age 85 on January 12, 1976. With over two billion copies sold, she is the best-selling novelist in history. What takes a person from suicidal to bestselling author in history?
The most prominent thing is RESILIENCE. People face all kinds of adversity in life. There are personal crises, such as illness, loss of a loved one, abuse, bullying, job loss, divorce, miscarriage and financial instability. There is the shared reality of tragic events in the news, such as terrorist attacks, mass shootings, natural disasters, and of course the COVID-19 pandemic. People have to learn to cope with and work through very challenging life experiences.
Life may not come with a map, but everyone will experience twists and turns, from everyday challenges to traumatic events with more lasting impact, like the death of a loved one, a life-altering accident, or a serious illness. Each change affects people differently, bringing a unique flood of thoughts, potent emotions and uncertainty. Yet people generally adapt well over time to life-changing situations and stressful situations, in part thanks to resilience. Like building anything of value, growing your resilience takes time and intention.
Psychologists have identified some of the factors that appear to make a person more resilient, such as a positive attitude, optimism, the ability to regulate emotions, and the ability to see failure as a form of helpful feedback. Optimism, for instance, has been shown to help blunt the impact of stress on the mind and body in the wake of disturbing experiences. That gives people access to their own cognitive resources, enabling cool-headed analysis of what might have gone wrong and consideration of behavioral paths that might be more productive. Other aspects of resilience’s roots does appear to be a genetic predisposition, for instance; early environments and life circumstances play a role in how resilient genes are ultimately expressed.
Does trauma make someone less resilient? Not necessarily; people who have undergone trauma can be and often are highly resilient. I shared both the traumas and comebacks that life dished out to me in my book: ‘Don’t just fly, SOAR.’ This is a testimony to my resilience and confirmation that we do not have to let trauma derail us. Get back up on the horse and try once more. Many factors that determine resilience, such as genetics, early life experiences, and luck. These components cannot be modified. But specific resilience-building skills can be learned. These include breaking out of negative thought cycles, pushing back against catastrophizing, and looking for the positive in each setback. Seek help from a licensed professional. It will leave a stain on your soul – the circle of life. Triumph through discomfort and disillusionment are not essentially easy for anyone to navigate. Researchers have uncovered what more resilient people do to emotionally and mentally carry on after the death of a loved one, a job loss, chronic or acute illness, or another obstacle. Which cohort do you identify with, do you demand a perfect streak or are you able to accept that life is a mix of losses and wins? In each case, the latter quality has been tied to greater levels of resilience. In addition healthy habits are paramount to the road of resilience: getting enough sleep, eating well, and exercising. All these practices can reduce stress, which may, in turn, enhance resilience. Equally, being sure to cultivate significant relationships can help an individual find support when catastrophe arises. Frequently thinking about morals and actively living according to one’s values have been linked to higher resilience. We can all weather that storm one drop at a time.
Your mindset is correlated to how resilient you are. Ascertain areas of irrational thinking and align yourself to focus on the positive rather than the gloomy. Perhaps you are unable to change an extremely stressful event, but you can change how you interpret and respond to it. Also make peace with the reality and accept that change is a part of life. A confident attitude enables you to expect good things. Along the way, maintain a log of any subtle ways in which you start to feel better. Then strategically follow your pattern. Learn from your past. By looking back at who or what was helpful in previous times of distress, you may discover how you can respond effectively to new difficult situations. Go light up the world as you bounce back.