(Photo Credit: Danielle Kambrey)
By Dr. Jennie Lorena Thomas
Most of us may not like to be reminded of this, as being human means we will face pain at some points during our journey through this world. Unfortunately, we cannot avoid this life’s truth no matter who we are. Fortunately, we now know that the sooner you internalize this truth and grieve your losses, the happier, less stressed, and healthier you will feel and live.
Thus, while you journey towards this truth, let me reinforce the truth of the strength our resilient spirit is capable. This spirit or energy essence can allow us to stand up to, and breathe through any adversity; it allows us to shine both inside and out. In fact, Change Basics (Russell and Russel, 2006) contains resiliency tips that solidify this point.
- Proactive people actively engage change and shape their own vision, keep their locus of control focused internally, preserve their self-efficacy, have a strong self-confidence and self- assurance, and are aware that their choices influence their response to challenges
- Develop a personal meaning and vision so they have a clear belief and vision of what they want to create. They allow that purpose to propel them forward, so when adversity approaches, they can see it through hopeful eyes as a possible opportunity and stay focused on the larger more realistic view of life beyond it
- They nurture interpersonal competence, our ability to truly empathize with others, thus magnifying their social awareness and interpersonal efficacy
- They remain flexible and adaptable by staying aware of what’s happening around them so they can then make sensible adjustments in response.
- They take a moment to think before acting. The more you practice the skill of organizing your thoughts and feelings; the result tends to yield an inner focus and outward stability. (Prioritizing to-do lists, and then following that prioritization, will enable you to manage your time effectively)
- Strive to problem solve by analyzing and breaking down complex challenges to discover and explore their root causes. Recognize and clearly define the interdependence of these challenges within the larger system, and then set manageable goals.
- Connection with community is important in attracting healthy caring and supportive relationships that create love and trust, provide effective mentors, and offer encouragement and reassurance. This is a foundation for continued personal efficacy.
Ways to Strengthen Resilience
After reading through these examples, perhaps select one tip a day and work with it a bit. For example, take the flexibility concept and consciously work on growing your awareness of your surroundings for a day. See the ways you’re less flexible and perhaps choose to let that some of that rigidity go. Alternatively, be that problem-solver for a day by taking a problem and breaking it into its constituent parts, then analyze how the parts fit together, and see how your various responses can be part of the problem and solution. Just observe how things can become more manageable. And add an extra kick of self-confidence to your day. Speak from your belly, look people in the eye, straighten your spine and put your shoulders back a bit. Feel yourself grow taller.
What everyone needs to know is that we actually have access to everything we need for a balanced life: awareness, determination, vision, creativity, love, passion, faith, and intuition. These human endowments begin to be realized when we focus on them, and they come into full bloom when we let them ripple through us, further building our innate resilience.
Admittedly, the journey as life students is sometimes arduous, often working full-time, and/or going to school while taking care of our families, maintaining ourselves, working to complete our degrees, get that position, that promotion, or that bonus. Let me now acknowledge each of you—great job for your hard work and continued effort. Keep smiling and know you are not alone.
Mary K. Alvord, PhD, Director, Group Therapy Center at Alvord, Baker, and Associates, LLC, Silver Spring, MD
Robin Gurwitch, PhD, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center
Russell and Russel, (2006) Measuring Employee Resilience, Published in the 2006 Pfeiffer Annual Training
Jana Martin, PhD, private practice, Long Beach, CA; (2003) President of the California Psychological Association
Ronald S. Palomares, PhD, Assistant Executive Director, Practice, American Psychological Association