Resilience is a word we all know. It can also be one of those buzzwords we like to throw about – but what is it, actually?
According to the dictionary, it means: “The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.”
This would lend us to believe that it is maybe something we are born with – or, to have resilience, we have to be tough and unemotional about circumstances or issues in our lives.
Also, levels and types of resilience vary. Some are better or more resilient in some situations others would not be able, or would be less able, to handle.
We all know someone who seems to able to deal with whatever life throws at them. How do they do that?
The last 18 months or so have shown us that life can throw up hardship, challenges and even turn the world we know completely upside down. We have all dealt with it in our own way. Some of us have found it easier than others – but why is that?
I believe resilience is partly something that is within you, but it is also very much a skill that has to be learned. As the saying goes: “You don’t know how strong you are until you have to be.” We will all lose people we love at some stage of our life, things will not always go the way we want them to and, at times, we will have to do and face things that we really rather wouldn’t.
We lost our baby, Leah, when I was 27 weeks pregnant, and I would have given my whole life to change that circumstance – anything. But I could give nothing. We all know examples of heartache, tragedy, unfair circumstances, bad situations, hopeless cases. This is life, but you cannot let it define you.
You are just as able to deal with life’s challenges as the person who seems to be able to handle anything and everything. But there are some things to remember when we need to be resilient.
1 This is your situation and you must deal with it the best way you can. Firstly, you have to accept it. Sometimes, as with a death, that would seem obvious – but not necessarily so. Knowing it and accepting it are two different things. That can be a big step, understanding that it is what it is. It may or may not be someone’s fault, but this is where you are.
2 Be kind to yourself. This does not mean ignoring what you have to deal with, but understanding that you are human and you need love, care, nutrition and sleep, and that there is always tomorrow to start again and continue your journey.
3 Take one step at a time. Life is a journey and things worth having can take time. Sometimes, depending on what you are dealing with, it can be a case of getting through the next hour – or this morning – or today. And that is OK. It is step by step, day-by-day, dealing with the job that you need to do now and not worrying about tomorrow until you have to. Worry will drive you mad and rob you of the ‘now’.
4 Remember to recognise those wins! You got through the day. You said no to the person who can bully you into doing things you don’t want to do. You went for a walk today. You didn’t eat any chocolate. All these wins matter. These prove to yourself that you can do it. No matter how small you start, you can only grow.
So remember: resilience is a skill that has to be learned through being tested during the difficult times in our lives. But these times can shape us and help us to become a better person. We may be more compassionate, capable and definitely stronger which, in turn, helps us when life throws those challenges again.
I always like to include a quote, so the next time you are having a tough day, remember: “It’s your reaction to adversity, not the adversity itself, that determines how your life’s story will develop.” Dieter F Uchtdorf.