When I am in the middle of something… something that has me bogged down… I can forget about my own resilience. My own power to bounce back after going through a difficulty. I can forget that I have been through hard things before and just let the feelings overwhelm me. My go to is to stay in bed and sleep. I don’t want to leave my bed. I want to sleep it all away. That is not so easy now with a kid that never allows me to linger in that indulgence. I’m grateful for that, because it forces me to get up and pull out my tools that help me find my inner strength and face the day.
A long time ago, I was in a relationship that was abusive. I guess you’d say that I just let myself slip into this relationship without much thought because this guy liked me. I wasn’t in love. I was casual about it, not really taking it seriously, until things became something I never imagined. I realized what kind of person I was dealing with and had to find a way to get out of it. I remember thinking that I had to be very careful to do it in just the right way so that I would be safe.
In the middle of all of this, I functioned. I drew upon all of the life skills I had to see beyond the situation. And, I was able to do it. I got out of it, and I am living. And then, I recovered through my own ability to be resilient.
I tell you this story to let you know that resilience is possible, even when you find yourself in unimaginable situations, or dealing with the trauma of having been in unimaginable situations.
These are the things that helped me to be resilient. Maybe they can help you, too?
- Coping Skills.
- Know that you already have coping skills within you.
- Think about the last time you went through something really tough and remember three things that you did to help yourself through. For me, I used my ability to be calm and non-reactive (thank you to my meditation and breathing practices). I also kept telling myself that I am strong inside. Finally, I repeatedly told myself that I was worth surviving the situation I was in. I found my own self-worth and hope.
- Self Compassion.
- Be kind to yourself. Bring in all of the self-care you know of. What soothes you? Is it baking (that’s one of mine… I just have to be mindful not to eat all the cookies), going for a walk, doing yoga (hello! yoga is what soothes me like nothing else can), sipping tea, creating art? Find what helps you to feel calm and balanced.
- Forgive yourself and let go of any blaming. You may have made some choices to get where you are, but you can make choices to help get yourself to a better place. So release that self-blame – put that load down because it doesn’t serve you. This one is something I continually work on myself, and once I am able to release self-blame, I feel lighter as my brain clears out those destructive thought.
- Meditate. If you don’t have a meditation practice, just sit still and silent for 2 or 3 minutes and gradually build up. If it is more comfortable for you, walk silently for a few minutes, or even sing a verse to yourself. All of these are ways to meditate. My daily meditation practice has helped me to be able to pause and think before reacting when faced with frustrating situations. I’m so grateful for this practice.
- Know that your struggle is valid, no matter what you are dealing with. Let go of comparison or thinking that what is burdening you isn’t worth it. Your struggle is yours. You are worth healing.
- Gratitude. Start small. Write down one thing you are grateful for today. Then, add another tomorrow. Eventually, your list will get longer and you will see all of the positive things in your life that you have to be grateful for. In my struggle to heal, I wrote and wrote and wrote about what I was grateful for. It was one of the most transformative ways for me to move forward.
- Change. Accept that change is always happening and will happen. Try and look at change as an opportunity instead of something dreadful. If you are going through a change that is unwanted, think about what you can control and what you need to let go of. By finding a few things that you can control and make the choices about, it will help you find your personal power.
- Community. You are not alone. Even if you feel isolated, like no one cares, or like no one has been through anything similar before… reach out. By interacting with others and sharing, we release natural hormones that help us heal. Humans are social beings… even if you are naturally a loner, it scientifically helps. (I learned this from a course I took through Yale, The Science of Well Being. I tried it. It works.) But, you have to reach out and not expect folks to intuitively know you need to have contact with them. Reach out to just one person. You don’t even have to tell them what you are going through. Just talk about what you are comfortable talking about and you might find some relief.
Have hope. You already have the power to be resilient within you. Let yourself shine through.