How do we get through some of the tough experiences in life’s journey? We all go through challenging times, be it dealing with the death of someone close, having a serious illness, being separated from loved ones or feeling rejected, or losing a job and having financial restraints. The list goes on…
Some tragedies allow for some preparedness while others are abrupt and unexpected, leaving us feeling punched in the gut or knocked down at the knees. Some people have to endure a life full of misfortunes while others squeak by with only a few calamities along the way. The discrepancy for this is unknown, and answers to those “Why?” questions will likely not be known to us until we meet our Maker.
Of course, most of us try to adapt to these life-changing events. However, sometimes the burden is too much to bear. Oftentimes, “giving up” or not being able to “get up from off the floor” is influenced by the load by which we carry. However, despite the level and degree of burden, it is also based on the character of the person. Here is another “Why?” question: Why are some able to “bounce back” while others remain overcome by the tragedy and are stuck in their own grief? You may ask yourself what special personality traits are needed to get through these life’s battles., or how much can we actually recover on our own volition? It is interesting that those with a spiritual faith are much more likely to be resilient than those that don’t; another “Why?” question.
Resilience. That’s the word. Resilience is when you can change and adapt how you respond to a crisis or while in the face of tragedy. It is about changing how you interpret and respond to the problem or circumstance. It is about challenging your thoughts and behaviors so that you create a more positive outlook. It provides you with a pat on your back and encouraging words so that you will continue walking through the muck, believing that somehow, someday, you will get through all this and be better for it.
Resilient people oftentimes have these suggestions, noted through the American Psychological Association in “The Road to Resilience”:
- Make connections with others: Having close relationships with family and friends are very important and may be key to building resilience. Accepting help from other local groups are also very helpful during this difficult time
- Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems: You can’t change the crisis, but you can change how you manage it. Look beyond the present to how future circumstances may be a bit better
- Accept that change as part of living. Alter your goals to what you can attain and accept circumstances that you can’t.
- Move towards your goals: Praise the subtle or small accomplishments you have made
- Make decisions to problems and move in the direction you want to go rather than wishing they would go away
- Look for opportunities for Self-Discovery: Recognize your increased internal strengths and growth due to your ability to get through the hardships you have experienced
- Nurture a positive view of self: Develop increased confidence in your ability to solve problems and trust your instincts
- Keep Things in Perspective: Look at a broader framework and keep a long-term perspective of problems. Avoid taking the situation out of proportion
- Maintain a hopeful outlook: Visualize what you want, rather than worrying about your fear
- Take care of yourself: Pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Engage in activities you enjoy and find relaxing, Exercise regularly
- Journaling: Writing down your deepest thoughts and feels related to the trauma. Meditation and spiritual practices oftentimes help people build connections and restore hope.
Actively participating in your life’s journey through resilience is so much better than responding with lingering vulnerability to the obstacles that come your way. It may be a difficult task, but overcoming obstacles allows you to get up from off the floor.
Claudia A. Liljegren, MSW, LICSW
St. William’s Mental Health