“A good half of living is resilience.” I was wandering down the street glancing into shops when this quote, pictured above, in a shop window stopped me in my tracks. As a therapist, I know the importance of resilience when recovering from traumatic experiences. It is vital to have things like coping strategies to use in order to move on. What if we broadened the idea of “resilient living” into everyday life though, not just when focusing on trauma recovery? For many years, I specifically did domestic violence and sexual assault counseling. Every client I worked with was either currently being abused or had previously been abused in some way. The bulk of our sessions together would focus on rebuilding a sense of self-worth, understanding how to manage triggers, learning to trust others again, etc. All of these tasks centered around resiliency with an outlook towards the future.
Now, although I still do some trauma recovery work, I have shifted to working with clients who have concerns such as boundary setting, coping with life transitions, developing healthy relationships, managing anxiety, etc. When I saw this sign in the shop widow, it struck me that every single person I have worked with has one thing in common: the need to build resiliency into their daily lives. Bad things will inevitably happen to all of us. Life will throw us unexpected curve balls, teach us painful lessons, and break our hearts. There is no avoiding that. I think knowing we lack control over our existence is scary for a lot of people as we so desperately want to avoid suffering and be prepared for what’s coming. What this quote got me thinking about is the idea that building up our resiliency reserves can actually give us a sense of control when negative things happen because we’ll be better equipped to cope. The time to focus on resiliency is now, before crisis hits and you’re overwhelmed. Here are three ways you can create and foster resiliency in your everyday life:
- Make a list of at least 5 things that you know comfort you and lift your spirits. Many times, when life goes wrong, we easily forget simple things we can do that fill us up, bring joy, and keep us going. Write these ideas down and post them somewhere like your bathroom mirror or refrigerator so they are easily accessible when needed. Also, if possible, practice these things on a regular basis so they become self-care habits.
- Remember times when you were resilient in the past. You didn’t get into the college you really wanted but you survived! Your first romantic relationship ended and it felt like life was over but you survived! Your boss gave you really difficult feedback at work and although it stung, you survived! There are countless examples of resilience to be found in your life and every single time you made it through and came out the other end (probably stronger!). Also, think back on what worked then to get you through and remember that just how things got bad, they also got good again.
- Address issues such as anxiety and depression before they become compounded by other life circumstances and struggles. Most people who start therapy do so when they are in some sort of crisis instead of as a preventative measure. If you feel stable right now, it will feel easier to handle other challenges that come your way. Even if therapy doesn’t feel right for you, addressing mental health struggles by finding support in online groups, self-help books, listening to podcasts, etc is extremely valuable.
Give resiliency some of your attention and be intentional about building it into your life… You will appreciate having the reserve ready for when you need it!