Resiliency is a practice.


Life is full of ups and downs. When challenging experiences inevitably arise, you'll want to be ready!  Your ability to bounce back after a setback determines whether most of your life is enjoyable and meaningful or miserable and frustrating.

This idea can be summed up in one word: resilience. The more resilient you are, the quicker you're able to re-adjust to a situation and move forward in life. I can be a testimony to this as someone who faced a lot of trauma in my early childhood.  I was taken from my mother at age seven and moved around to different foster homes for over 15 years.  It takes so much resilience to overcome traumatic events like this.  I had to learn the hard way.  Here is are a few notes I'd like to share.

Consider these ideas you think about your own resilience:

1. First responses. When something initially begins to trouble you, how do you respond? Maybe you bury your head in the sand and hope it goes away. Perhaps you just ignore the situation and pretend it isn't happening.

* If you're resilient, you'll choose to approach the situation head-on, and promptly. You'll define the issue, consider your options, and make a plan. You'll set out right away to resolve the situation before it becomes a full-blown issue.

* Promptly employing problem-solving skills will help you avoid a major meltdown.  This sounds basic but some simple techniques can help. For me personally, (you are different, so find what works for you) I use breathwork exercises to help me when I feel myself going into a flight or fight mode. It calms my nervous system, keeps me centered and grounded. The breath is a powerful and natural tool I have learned to use. Again, find what tools work best for you.

2. Approach to past events. Do you try to forget about your prior challenges? Instead, try applying what you learned from them to navigate present or future situations. When you reflect on what you've been through, you'll think about the mistakes you made. But, you'll also be excited about how well you handled some situations and use those same skills again.

* The energy required to try to forget something important draws heavily from your present resilience, wearing it down. Instead, focus your energy on the lessons and skills you've learned from past experiences builds your resilience.  Our stories and struggles can be our superpowers.  Use your past pains to make you stronger.

3. Daily practice. Do you work to accomplish something, however small, each day? Or do you find yourself watching entire days go by while you sit and brood or feel sad or angry? In order to improve your resilience, consider each day an opportunity to do something positive, even if it's just one thing.

* On a day off, this might be something as simple as going for a walk or cleaning the living room. Your practice today could even be finishing a book or calling a friend you haven't talked to in ages.

What you do with your life each day provides meaning for you.  In other words--get off your ass!

4. Your support network. Do you have plenty of friends and family to call on if you need anything? Resilient individuals build a supportive system of people they can visit, call, talk to, and turn to whenever shit hits the fan.  On a personal note, this may be the biggest weakness for my own personal resiliency.  My circle is small. Growing up without parents and a strong family base is painful and extremely scary sometimes. Even as an adult this has been a huge obstacle. But I know it and I work on it all the time.

* If you feel like you're all alone, start building your support network today by reaching out to those you have lost touch with or can make amends! Also, never underestimate the power of new friendships.

5. Who matters to you most? Do you treat yourself as if you're the most important person in your life? When you take care of your own needs, you'll be more resilient when a crisis knocks on the door. If your own health and living situation are at the top of your priority list, you'll be prepared to face any hardship, be it emotional or physical.

* Taking the time to keep yourself in shape physically and mentally builds your reserves of resilience. Mental and physical toughness is a tangible thing you can call upon.  I personally use meditation and yoga to build my mental and physical toughness. In what ways are you honoring your mind and body?

Challenges, transitions, and hardships will invariably arise in your life from time to time. If you confront situations immediately, use the knowledge gained from prior trying events, and build your support network, you'll be on your way to constructing resilience for the future.

Do one small thing for yourself each day, and before you know it, you'll weather any f'ing storm!