“Resilience is all about being able to overcome the unexpected. Sustainability is about survival. The goal of resilience is to thrive” - Jamais Casci.
The word Resilience has its origin in the Latin word resilíre, which means, To leap back or, as I like to say: bounce back. Resilience helps to make certain the uncertain things in our lives. Knowing how to “bounce back” from adversity and life challenges is something that all of us are able to do - we just need to know HOW.
My Story of Resilience
“Every great personal story you have to tell involves overcoming adversity. If you shy away from adversity, you take away your ability to tell new stories” - Farrell Droke.
I love listening to people’s stories. Their stories inspired and motivated me to make changes, become stronger, and take control of how I responded to challenging events in my life. So, I thought I would share with you my story about how I began my journey to living a resilient life.
My father died March 24th 2005 and my mother collapsed at his gravesite and died March 27th 2005. It was this moment in my life where resilience and I began our journey. With the sudden loss of my parents my life crumbled. I felt destroyed at the time; for months I was numb and in pain. I wanted to crawl into a cupboard and hide from the world. However, I couldn’t, because I had a young family to take care for, a husband, and life kept going.
I never considered myself a resilient person, mainly because I never really understood what resilience was all about. I believed that in order to be considered a resilient person you had to achieve amazing feats, be an adventurer who went and explored undiscovered places or climbed really high mountains.
The Power of Making One Decision
Three months after my parents death I was reading a magazine article about 3 women who had just completed the New York Marathon. The women were asked why they started running. One of them said that she started running because it helped her deal with the pain of losing her daughter. She said that running every morning helped her survive and get through each day.
I had been looking for a way where I could manage my pain and survive through the day. Even though I wanted to hide away from the world, deep down I knew I couldn’t. I was desperate to find a way to ease my pain and if running had helped the woman in the article deal with her grief, then maybe it could work for me.
So the next morning at 6am my alarm went off and I didn’t get out of bed. The following morning the same thing happened. On the 3rd morning the alarm went off and I dragged myself out of bed. I felt sick and my body felt heavy but I got dressed and walked out the door and started running.
By the time I got to the end of my street I didn’t feel sick in my stomach and 30 minutes later I got home and I felt OK. Since that morning I never stopped running. I still run today, though not as often, as I have found a love for yoga and pilates.
Reading this woman’s story as to why she started running was the trigger for me to make a monumental decision to start dealing with the pain and adversity in my life. It also started me on my journey toward living a resilient life.
The Curveballs Of Life
The funny thing about life is that it doesn’t throw you one curveball - it will throw you many. Since my parents died there have been many curveballs thrown at me - including 3 redundancies in 18 months! I have felt defeated, humiliated, rejected and useless. However, I have survived.
The reason why I have survived is because I have learnt how to be resilient and how to manage adversity in my life. My life is not perfect, but I have the power of choice rather than being at the mercy of chance, possibility or habit.
7 Strategies That Help Me Live A Resilient Life
These 7 Strategies have helped me survive the challenges and adversity in my life. The strategies have also empowered me to find the strength and courage to live a resilient life.
1. Always Look After Yourself - your health and wellbeing
Allocate some time during the week for you and stick to it! You need to re-energise, clear your mind and hopefully get some sleep. In stressful times we tend to give up on ourselves and our downward spiral begins. Our health and wellbeing is the key to build our strength both physically and mentally. Find out what it is that you can do, that will help you rebuild your physical and emotional strength. For me it was running, for you it could be yoga, meditation, weekly massage, pedicure - it doesn’t matter just find something that allows you for 10 minutes or more if you can, feel rested, calm, happy, energised or at peace. To survive and thrive in today’s world you need to be physically and emotionally strong.
2. Find Your Purpose In Life
This strategy does take some work but it is so worth it. Having a purpose in life and knowing what makes you happy gives your clarity, focus and direction. Visualising what you want, rather than worrying about what you fear, keeps you hopeful and optimistic about your future. Resilience brings happiness to ones life. When you know who you are, what you want in life and what makes you happy then you have the key ingredients to live a resilient life.
3. Start and Never Stop Believing In Yourself
The first step to start believing in you, is for you to find out what your strengths are - what are you good at? Knowing your strengths increases your self-awareness and builds your confidence. When you know what you are good at, your confidence and belief in you soars!
4. Accept That Change Is Here To Stay And That Some Life Events Are Beyond Your Control
Just by you making a decision, you can achieve this strategy straight away. Once you have made the decision, you need to start looking for the tools and techniques to help you better manage your reactions to future life challenges you will, no doubt, face. I remember reading somewhere that people react to change in 1 of 2 ways. They react either as Champions and embrace change, adapt and are flexible or they react as Terrorists, aggressively, negatively, with fighting attitude, doing anything to keep control or disrupt the change process. I wanted to be more of a Champion, although I was aware at times I did demonstrate the behaviour of a Terrorist - which never served me well. Over time I came to realise that the more belief I had in me and in my abilities, the more I lived my life as a resilient champion of change.
5. Take One Step At A Time - just keep moving forward
When you are in pain and you want to hide away from the world DO IT and hide away BUT only on 1 condition that you commit to a timeframe of how long you are going to spend hiding away. This is how I coped with my pain of losing my parents and also dealing with each of my redundancies. You will know when you are feeling low emotionally, so take the time out. Over time the number of hours I spent isolated and in pain got less. Now I cant even remember the last time when I wanted to hide away from the world.
6. Value The Power Of Writing FEEL GOOD & DREAM Lists
To keep your motivation and momentum to moving forward you also need to have a DREAM LIST. This is like your bucket list - write down all the things that you want to do in your life. Keep your DREAM List updated and close to you and commit to reviewing the list every month. Next to each activity put a date as to when you want to have the activity ticked off.
7. Help Others, Share and Celebrate Success
Resilient people do not like to be isolated from others. They are good at building and maintaining their relationships. Resilient people are happy people and celebrate other people’s successes as well as their own. To survive and thrive in life you need to share and develop supportive and caring relationships with your friends, family and colleagues. Accept help and support from others.
Living a Resilient life is not a one-way ticket and it is not all about you. It is about how you can help and support other people in your life. By helping others and having positive relationships in our lives we begin to accept and believe in ourselves. We must be OK if other people think we are OK.
To live a resilient life is a tough journey because to be resilient you have to experience personal setbacks, pain and adversity. This is scary and for many of us we choose not to embrace resilience and our life languishes. For those of us who embrace and integrate resilience into our lives - our life flourishes. Despite the pain and challenge of the resilience journey - the gains that you receive from leading a resilient life is priceless.
“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference” - Reinhold Niebuhur.
About Kathryn Sandford
I am Kathryn Sandford - an aspiring writer, coach, presenter, teacher, loving wife, and super-mum (I like to think so) to two young-adult children.