Increasing My Resilience
“Life is unpredictable. Brace yourself with a suite of coping mechanisms, internal and external, then deploy them flexibly” – Selda Koydemir, PhD
I was extremely healthy and active. As a former dancer I knew how to stretch time and fill my days. My consulting business was growing, I found time to go to the farm and ride, and I was incredibly involved in the community.
My mom was engaged and enjoying life at her new assisted living community. She had health issues, but they were being managed – until they were not.
Suddenly there seemed to be trauma and stressful situations everywhere. Maybe I had on rose colored glasses, but I wasn’t expecting it. Before I knew it, I was anxious, worried, and frustrated. My stress level was unbelievable. And I developed a cough.
Fast forward to November 2017 when I discovered I had to have lung cancer surgery. I am fortunate that it was found early. At the same time a chronic lung disease that had been asymptomatic my whole life ‘came alive’ and started wreaking havoc with my immune system.
When I woke up from surgery, I knew I had been given a second chance. My life’s goal became finding a way to make a difference. My new life revolved around growth, increased knowledge and a commitment to being healthy.
I still get up every day committed to feeling good and trying to do good. But I started to wonder what more I could do to deal with the inevitability of more trauma and stress.
The answer? Increase my resilience. Resilience is the ability to navigate through, and recover from, stressful circumstances or crisis situations. This will lead you to healthy functioning over time.
There’s no magic pill or program that will make you resilient. But improving your resilience is doable and necessary. Being resilient doesn’t mean you are bullet proof. Resilient people also experience pain and suffering, but they eventually recover and grow from their experiences.
Ways to increase your resilience:
It is important to connect with friends, family, and your communities during times of stress, such as we are all encountering during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Assisting others in their time of need is greatly beneficial to the helper. Civic groups, faith-based organizations and non-profit initiatives provide ways reach out and make a difference.
Acceptance of the inevitable is liberating. Don’t do as I did and put on a pair of rose-colored glasses and avoid your inner experiences. Recognize and move through what is happening. Tap into your inner strengths and resources.
This takes commitment to a long view so that over time you will rediscover meaning and purpose and increased self-awareness.
As Charles Darwin said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”
Do you have any practices that increase your resilience? I would love to hear from you.
Stay healthy and be safe!
- How to Be Resilient | Psyche Guides
- Best Books on Resilience | Everyday Health
- 10-ways-to-build-resilience.pdf (stanford.edu)