“You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it”- Margaret Thatcher
Everyone has a bad day, or a series of bad days, once in awhile. It’s all a part of life. Resilience is our ability to bounce back from these unavoidable setbacks and “get back on the saddle.” Like the Margaret Thatcher quote above suggests, when you encounter a challenge or obstacle, you may not be successful on the first try. At times, it probably feels like you’re stuck in a repetitive loop having to deal with the same problem more than once. Part of being resilient is being able to come back to a battle more than once, and being ok with the fact that you might have to lose once in awhile. If you don’t consider yourself among the resilient, the good news is that many of the characteristics of resilient people can be obtained with a bit work!
Acceptance might be the most important part of resilience, and the part that is easier said than done. It takes a lot of work to be comfortable with the knowledge that some things are beyond our control. The truth is, even though we work hard and try to do the next right thing, we aren’t the ones running the show. We truly only have control over ourselves and our own actions.
Another piece of acceptance is having faith that, even if we don’t have control, that it will all be okay. Again, this might feel unfamiliar to many people at first (like being spiritually blindfolded). Every now and then, you’re not going to feel very positive. Life might be throwing a lot at you at once. You don’t have to be at your best all the time- remember that it’s okay not to be okay every now and then.
“It’s not the load that breaks you, it’s the way you carry it” (Lena Horne).
Although it may seem like resilient people are independently strong, they usually have a strong support group that helps them through the difficult times. Part of being resilient is knowing that as individuals, we don’t have all the answers, and someone else might be able to help if we let them. Have you ever told a friend something difficult or painful, and felt physically lighter because of it? Powerful feelings and emotions can weigh us down. Life’s burdens are less likely to break us if we distribute the weight across multiple people rather than trying to shoulder them all ourselves.
“Failure is a bruise not a tattoo” (Jon Sinclair). Another important component of resilience is perspective. Is the glass half full or half empty? Resilient people don’t tell themselves “I can’t” or view situations as impossible to handle. They also tend to look at difficulties as an opportunity for growth. It sounds a bit “out there,” but remember, I said these qualities required a bit of work! Situations may appear different if we step away for a little bit. It may also be an opportunity to ask someone else for their perspective- you never know what wisdom another person has to offer.
Resilience isn’t built in a day. Sure, some people make it look easy but these are skills that everyone can develop with a bit of practice and patience.