Updated: Jul 5, 2020
“My barn having burned down, I can now see the moon.”
~ Mizuta Masahide (17th century Japanese samurai poet)
Sometimes the barn burns down. We all experience emotional pain and hardship. Adversity does not discriminate. Maybe you survived some form of abuse. Maybe you witnessed a life-threatening event. Maybe you lived through a natural disaster. Maybe you lost someone you love. Maybe you experience oppression, poverty, terrorism, war. Maybe your family history includes abuse, violence, neglect, addiction, incarceration. Maybe you lost your job, your house, your family. Maybe you live with a physical disability, chronic illness, disease, or chronic mental health issue. Maybe your heart is broken. Adversity is part of the human experience. And how we handle it makes all the difference.
What is resilience?
Resilience is our ability to recover in the face of adversity, trauma, threat, significant stress, and tragedy. Resilience is not about the absence of adversity or erasing past pain. Resilient people still experience emotional pain, anxiety, loss, devastation, heartbreak. Resilience is about the ways in which we cope with the difficulties that arise. Resilient people use their strengths, skills, and perspective to cope in healthy ways with hardship and distress.
How do we strengthen our resilience?
Accept that bad things happen to all of us. Life is brutal and beautiful. None of us are exempt from suffering.
Think like an optimist. The most resilient of us tend to view hardship as temporary, singular, and changeable.
Give yourself permission for gratitude. When life is hard, particularly when we are grieving, we can feel guilty about appreciating what we have. It’s ok to feel grateful; it is not a betrayal of your pain, rather it is a recognition that pain and joy coexist.
Try asking yourself, “Is what I am doing helping me or hurting me?” Consider whether the activity, behavior, interaction, person, will bring you a sense of peace, calm, joy, or whether it will drag you down, hurt you, suck the energy out of you. When possible, choose wellness.
Build a community of trustworthy and compassionate people in your life. We are social creatures that thrive when we feel a sense of belonging and connection. It helps to have a loyal tribe who you feel comfortable with to share what you are going through. These are the people who uplift you, the ones who are supportive, reliable, and real.
Help others. When we help others we feel whole. Helping gives us the opportunity to transform the pain into good. We often feel empowered when we are able to assist and advocate for others suffering in similar ways.
Acknowledge your strengths. What would it be like to see yourself as a survivor, not a victim? I invite you to recognize that in the face of all you have been through you are still here. You are a survivor. When we cultivate this empowered view of ourselves we are better able to handle adversity because we can easily call upon our positive qualities. If we truly believe we are courageous, strong, brave, capable, intelligent, savvy, creative, lovable, worthy, we can encounter hardship with grace and grit, knowing we will survive it.
I hope these resilience strengthening strategies help you see the moon!
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