By: Kate Daigle
“Resilience is not about overcoming but becoming.” –Sherri Mandell
1: the capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress
2: an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.
Do you ever notice how some people have the incredible ability to rebound from the most challenging of circumstances? As humans, we have the ability to endure incredible transitions and obstacles - and not just endure them but even at times thrive through them. And while these transitions and obstacles might make us feel riddled with defeat, uncertainty, fear and stress, there also comes a moment where we might choose to take a step back, look at the big picture and make note of how these experiences have shaped us for the better. To notice how out of times of great struggle comes the gift of resilience.
When we are first born, we are like sponges - taking in the world around us, gathering information, data and using our five senses (i.e. sight, touch, smell, taste, sound) to interpret and understand our world. These early childhood experiences lay the foundation for creating and fostering resiliency. Here are some things that might start happening:
We begin to learn our strengths (consciously or unconsciously).
We begin to create schemas (a way of organizing information) for concepts such as trust and security.
We begin formulating a sense of our values (consciously or unconsciously).
We begin to have experiences that allow us the opportunity to learn and grow, if we choose to view them from this perspective.
Whether it's a baby learning how to walk or a baby learning how to hold their own bottle - they don't do so without some literal and figurative missteps. Perhaps they stumble and fall down, or, maybe they spill their milk everywhere. However, eventually, the baby learns to get back up or change the way they hold their bottle to have a better outcome for the next time. Maybe they do this with some support, but, ultimately, they're learning to meet their needs and become resilient. It's an unconscious process and perhaps these may seem like small examples. So you might be wondering how these examples can be applied to you as an adult?
Let’s take a look at how we can delve deeper into our lives and tap into our innate ability to be resilient.
When we aim to understand concepts such as resiliency, sometimes, it can be helpful to look to portrayals outside of our own internal worlds. A great example of this would be your favorite movie. When you think about this movie and dissect the movie into pieces, almost like chapters of a book, what happens? What are the major turning points for the characters? Consider the timeline. How do they reach the pinnacle of conflict? How do their expectations and reality misalign, causing them to make changes or go down different paths? Do they have periods of growth as well as periods of setbacks?
Now that we have used an external example, let's get more personal and think of an internal example. Think of a specific obstacle or transition in your life that felt defeating or full of fear and uncertainty. Maybe it was the loss of a job, a death, financial hardship, a move or a traumatic experience. Got it? Great! Now, think of this experience as a movie playing out on a screen in front of you, as if you wrote the screenplay, and consider the following:
What are the major turning points?
How did the movie begin and end?
What internal strengths did the main character have to tap into? Were they adaptable? Willing to be open minded? Or, maybe they were humbled by their struggles?
What happened in the middle that caused you to reassess your next move?
If you were to play this movie over again, what would you want to be different? What would have made the obstacle more manageable?
As the credits roll, you’re left with a feeling that equates to the main character being triumphant, changed, a higher, more evolved version of themselves.
Resiliency provides us a sense of hope - hope that we can overcome even the darkest and defeating of challenges, only to be provided with an expanded and increased awareness of our strengths. By taking a moment to assess your strengths, you're giving yourself a better chance to tackle challenges in the future. And remember, sometimes all you need to do is pause, take a step back and look at the bigger picture.
If you are someone who wants to better understand your own innate resiliency, we can help! Through exploring your very own life story, you can gain insight as to how you've overcome obstacles big and small. We can take a look at your strengths and work on taking up a perspective that allows you to reshape the way you view and relate to obstacles. Book your free 15 minute session with Kate here to get started!