When I was 9, I was pulled far away from the shore by an ocean riptide. I remember looking down into the water and feeling terrified by the shadows. My resilience is what saved me. I forced myself to only look ahead. I decided to focus on the end goal, to reach the safety of the shore, and I did.
The American Psychological Association defines resilience as “the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or even significant sources of stress.” Your resilience is what people admire about you when they hear your story of what you’ve been through.
My example above reflects an acute, yet brief, event in my life in which my instinct helped me adapt quickly to a dangerous situation. Because it resolved swiftly, the anxiety and stress I felt was not difficult to manage, but it certainly left a lasting impression.
For most of us, however, our greatest life challenges aren’t so quickly settled.
To live well, you must find effective ways to develop, strengthen and sharpen your skills for adapting to adversity. These skills are the backbone of being able to keep your head above water and eventually recover from the lasting impact of that stress.
Here are 5 tips for boosting your resiliency.
- Practice the art of welcoming the unwelcome. This idea comes from The Sleep Book, written by Guy Meadows on overcoming insomnia. At the core of his work is the belief that energy is wasted when you try to avoid, reject, or deny feelings that are uncomfortable. This decreases your ability to be resilient. The art of welcoming the unwelcome allows you to be more aware of what’s happening while preserving your energy for finding a solution.
- Stay curious. Ask yourself, what is possible? When you're curious, you're inviting the quality of openness. You’re not trying to dominate, predetermine, or control a situation. This allows you to see something more clearly. Asking yourself what's possible encourages adaptability by staying true to what is, while seeking options. This question builds self-nurturing and self-confidence as you practice the art of staying curious.
- Reflect on what is going well. Even in the hardest moments of life, there’s usually evidence of a silver lining that keeps your hope alive. Giving yourself permission to notice, and perhaps even celebrate, what is going well. Keeping a journal of these observations helps you to internalize them.
- Harness your inner badass. We all have a part inside of us that is strong, rebellious, and knows how to be stubborn— for the good, hopefully. When it comes to facing significant challenges in your life, your inner badass can boost your spirits and confidence by facing those challenges head on. This is a resource inside of you that’s priceless.
- Write, draw, and sing. When you use creativity to embody your feelings and experiences, you transform the way you live through them. Creativity assists you in shedding the stress while reveling in your strength. All forms of art expression can reflect back your pure, authentic, resilient self. When you’re facing times of uncertainty, remembering who you are is inherently valuable.
If you want to boost your resiliency, it's important to be honest about what you can do for yourself and be clear about when you need support. The tips above will bring you a lot of clarity about where those lines are, which is an important step towards mastering a difficult time in your life. By having an eclectic toolbox of resiliency building practices, you’ll feel more capable of navigating the ups and downs of life.
Stephanie McLeod-Estevez, LCPC is an art therapist and breast cancer survivor who is passionate about helping people live life boldly, no matter what kinds of obstacles they face. Learn more about her work at www.stephaniemcleodestevez.com and subscribe to her Let’s talk Art Therapy; Tips, Tools, Strategies & Resources newsletter.
Stephanie McLeod-Estevez, LCPC is an art therapist and breast cancer survivor who is pas-sionate about helping people live life boldly, no matter what kinds of obstacles they face. Learn more about her work at www.stephaniemcleodestevez.com and subscribe to her Let’s talk Art Therapy; Tips, Tools, Strategies & Resources ...
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