I was 28 when I was given the opportunity to become a stay- at- home mom. This opportunity came with a “price”; a move cross-country, without physical access to family or friends, and without a support system or “community” to help with the emotional toll of raising two adorable toddlers. Shortly after moving to a new state, I discovered I was pregnant with an unexpected third child. The joy and anticipation of pregnancy came crashing down, when; two months later I discovered my husband was having an affair. With this devastating revelation came an abundance of stressors and life altering events: Having baby and raising 3 children alone, returning to work, divorce proceedings, custody proceedings, our home going into foreclosure, the constant lies, having to apply for welfare, and having to turn to family and friends (long distance) for constant help. While this was never a chapter in my life I saw coming, it was the best self- identifying moment of my life, I learned I was resilient.
Finding inner strength and ones ability to overcome struggles is very rewarding; it’s called resilience. That does not mean emotions are not experienced with stressors we endure in life. It means we have developed healthy response behaviors, thoughts, and the ability to move forward after life stressors. With neuroscientist’s continuous research, it has been discovered that stressful situations can change the structure and functions of the brain. Resilience can be learned, training the brain to be more resilient. Richard Davidson, a neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin- Madison says, a good way to gauge how close you are to resilience is to consider how you react to things when they don’t go your way, (Oaklander, 2016).
According to The American Psychological Association, 2016, there are several ways to build resilience, including:
Make connections. Good relationships with close family members, friends, the community, or others who are important. Accepting help and support from those who care about you and will listen to you, strengthens resilience.
Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems. You can't change the fact that highly stressful events happen, but you can change how you interpret and respond to these events. Change your reaction when you can’t change the circumstance. Try looking beyond the present to how future circumstances may be a little better.
Accept that change is a part of living. Certain goals may no longer be attainable as a result of adverse situations. Accepting circumstances that cannot be changed can help you focus on circumstances that you can alter.
Move toward your goals. Develop some realistic goals. Do something regularly — even if it seems like a small accomplishment — that enables you to move toward your goals. Instead of focusing on tasks that seem unachievable, ask yourself, "What's one thing I know I can accomplish today that helps me move in the direction I want to go?"
Take decisive actions. Act on adverse situations as much as you can. Take decisive actions, rather than detaching completely from problems and stresses and wishing they would just go away.
Look for opportunities for self-discovery. People often learn something about themselves and may find that they have grown in some respect as a result of their struggle with loss. Many people who have experienced tragedies and hardship have reported better relationships, greater sense of strength even while feeling vulnerable, increased sense of self-worth, a more developed spirituality and heightened appreciation for life. www.viacharacter.org is a free tool to help identify your character strengths. In times of stress it is easy to loose the identification of our strengths. The rediscovery will help foster the resiliency process.
Nurture a positive view of yourself. Developing confidence in your ability to solve problems and trusting your instincts helps build resilience.
Keep things in perspective. Even when facing very painful events, try to consider the stressful situation in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective. Avoid blowing the event out of proportion.
Maintain a hopeful outlook. An optimistic outlook enables you to expect that good things will happen in your life. Try visualizing what you want, rather than worrying about what you fear.
Take care of yourself. Pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Engage in activities that you enjoy and find relaxing. Exercise regularly. Taking care of yourself helps to keep your mind and body primed to deal with situations that require resilience.
Additional ways of strengthening resilience may be helpful. For example, some people write about their deepest thoughts and feelings related to trauma or other stressful events in their life. Meditation and spiritual practices help some people build connections and restore hope, (“the road to resilience,” 2016).
There are several ways to build resilience and can be done on one’s own. Reaching out for guidance and support can also facilitate the road to inner strength and resilience.
Author: Anonymous, Clarity Clinic
Oaklander, M. (2016, Special Editon). How to Bounce Back. Time, (), 22-29
The road to resilience. (2016). The American Psychological Association, (), . Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/road-resilience.aspx
Via Institue of Character. (2016). Retrieved from https://www.viacharacter.org/www/