In Honor of 9/11
What does it mean to be resilient?
When I looked up the meaning of resilience, I learned that it is ‘the capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress’ or ‘an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change’. In physics, resilience is the ability of an elastic material to absorb energy (such as from a blow) and release that energy as it springs back to its original shape.
To me, resilience is the ability to restore yourself to a beautiful imperfection after a life-altering change.
It’s important to understand that resilience is not perfection, and it looks different for everyone. An author Paul Jackson wrote “to improve our resilience we may need to battle with perfectionism – the urge to get things right all the time and thus usually feeling dissatisfied with our less-than-perfect results”. This is a healthy reminder that life isn’t meant to be “perfect” for whatever that means to you; maybe it is an image of perfection that something external to you created.
Even in the definition of resilience, you are recovering from something that may have de-structured or strained you, which can destroy an idea of perfection. And it requires change. It may mean that things don’t go the way that you planned, and you choose to adjust to it. Resilience is a measure of how you react to change; by definition you need the change to occur in order to exhibit any resilience toward it.
Maya Angelou supports this idea by her quote, “I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.” Resilience is allowing change to restructure you without taking anything away from you.
I believe that you can build resilience, just like any other skill. So, I am going to give you a G.E.M., or 3 easy practices of ‘5’ to help you build resilience:
- Gratitude – you can practice daily gratitude to help you focus on the things that you do have in your life over any desires that may keep you from feeling complete. A great way that I use to practice gratitude is to journal 5 things everyday that I’m grateful for. There is research that proves how this builds your mental wellness and optimism…even during a pandemic.
- Empathy – it is important to understand what other people are experiencing from their lens, as this helps give you perspective, and to refocus yourself on the things that truly matter. As an exercise, think of 5 people that you’ve been thinking about a lot during this crisis, and everyday choose one person from that list that you are going to reach out to, whether it be a phone call or text, and offer them empathy.
- Mindfulness – when change occurs in your life, it is important to take the time to process your pain. Oftentimes, we move so fast in life that we don’t take time to reflect on things as or after they occur, and this can impact us negatively, and unknowingly. Change and trauma can cause pain. You can deal with these in a healthy way by practicing 5 minutes of mindfulness reflection everyday, as ‘Pain + Mindful Processing = Resilience’. I truly believe our ability to process and reflect are critical especially now in growing through a pandemic.
Although change may occur, you have the ability to bounce back from it stronger. Applying this G.E.M. into your life not only will help you build resistance after you experience any change or trauma, but these are steps that you can apply everyday to become a stronger person overall. My hope is that you apply these and find strength in the lessons that it brings into your life.