Resilience is a prominent word in the world of mental wellness. Resilience is examined on different occasions to understand and facilitate growth and healing for children, youth, and adults alike. The ability to have resilience is seen as a positive and powerful predictor of an individual dealing with adversity and overcoming challenges.
You may wonder, what is Resilience? And do I have it? Resilience has different definitions. From the Merriam-webster’s dictionary it says:
re·sil·ience | \ ri-ˈzil-yən(t)s \
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
I encourage you to think about what this means for you.
Recently I had an unexpected loss in my world. I felt devastated, and very stuck. I have had other losses in life, so I knew that eventually my focus would shift. However, I was caught in a turmoil of thoughts, feelings, doubt, anger, self-pity, sadness, bewilderment. I was struggling with the loss and doubting if I could overcome the challenge. I took the loss very seriously and went to seek help from my clinical supervisor and my therapist. The feelings were acknowledged; and because I have been through other circumstances in the past and overcome it, both professionals said to me, “You have high resiliency, hang in there”. My response was, “what do you mean?” I was feeling very stuck, and unable to climb out of the low point. Along with my healing, I have been thinking and doing art around “resiliency”. This is what I have come to understand for myself as healthy resilience.
Resilience is the ability to bounce back after a stressful situation; to be adaptable to stress and change. Resilience is the ability to go with the flow and remain true to myself. Resilience is the ability to find a way to ground myself, become attuned to self again, and care for myself. It is the ability to overcome periods when I am “out of my window of tolerance”. Then I can return to knowing myself and working from authentic self, rather than the reactive and defensive self.
In the end, resilience is the ability to return to healthy, wholesome, engaged functioning after a disappointment, a challenge, a trauma. Resilience is the ability to shine amidst and after adversity; to rise again; to Bloom again. To use the adversity as a place of growth rather than a place of devastation. Resilience is the ability to find new ways of growth amidst exploration of the trauma.
In the context of psychotherapy and creating a Blooming Life, if I am a bulb or plant, I may experience a difficult season, ground, environment – poor fertilization, bad temperature, no watering, being stomped on; but the bulb and plant does not die. Rather it lives and manages to return another season. And in this metaphor is another key correlation: being resilient and rising again does not mean immediately bouncing back, but rather it takes time. Resilience is the ability to take the time to rejuvenate. To have and believe in hope for the next season when we can Bloom again.
I have been working hard to understand the loss, and to make changes about myself. I have come to learn more about myself. I believe I am in the midst of change and growth. My life did not follow the path I thought it was taking, but I have a new future. And in the last few weeks I have been feeling more hopeful. I believe I am resilient.
This is the first part of Resilience. Two other questions remain, that I will ponder later. These are, “Why is resiliency important?”; “What helps develop one’s resiliency?”
May you find the water and fertilizer you need to move on.