We are born like freshly poured cement. Smoothed, blank, and without cracks and blemishes.
People or things come along as we cure and leave impressions on our surface. Some impressions set deep within us as we harden and we may feel like they are a permanent part of us. By holding onto every stomp, break or handprint from our past we may start to believe that this is what characterizes us 100%.
Well, I have great news for you! It does NOT! Your past pain is what helps build a strong foundation of resiliency and you can learn how to ‘bounce back’ from difficult experiences.
We may have these impressions, but as time goes by, we may be painted over with beautiful chalk. Our strength may be supporting others as they walk through life. We may become the foundation for something huge to be built on.
Life will happen and we may have cracks and blemishes, but we can be something great, as long as we keep in mind that we are not our past pain. We are so much more.
Resiliency is an ongoing process that requires time and effort. This is a trait that all people can develop and the journey will be as unique as you are. The most important factor in building resiliency is having supportive, caring relationships. Healthy relationships create love and trust, provide role models and offer encouragement.
Take a look back on your life’s experiences and pick out the times that have molded you as a person. This lays the groundwork for where you can go. Here are 10 ways to build resiliency:
- Make connections. Relationships with others, involvement in a group organization or being of service to your community help you reclaim a sense of hope.
- Understand a crisis is not an insurmountable problem. While you can’t change the event, you can control your response to the event. Try to look beyond the present moment to see how the future may be a little better.
- Know that life *is* change. As they say “life happens” and sometimes our best-laid plans can go to waste. Accept the things you cannot change and focus on the circumstances where you can make changes.
- Develop your goals. Keep moving forward toward realistic goals. It doesn’t have to be huge or overwhelming. Just ask yourself, “What’s one thing I know I can accomplish today that helps me move in the direction I want to go?” Find out more about goal setting with a positive mindset.
- Take decisive actions. Face adverse situations as much as possible by taking decisive action, rather than retreating and wishing it would just go away.
- Recognize adversity leads to self-discovery. You are strong and you are capable. The experience of grief, loss, tragedy or heartbreak can lead to having better relationships, give you a greater sense of strength even while feeling vulnerable, increase your sense of self-worth, develop your spirituality and heighten your appreciation for life.
- Learn to view yourself in a positive light. Focus on how you have solved problems in the past to help build your resilience.
- It’s all about perspective. Take the time to step back and view the broader context of a situation. Try to see beyond the present moment or just from your point of view.
- Maintain positive mindset. Staying optimistic helps you to expect that something good will happen. Focus on what you want to achieve, rather than what you lack.
- Practice regular self-care. Your own needs and feelings are a priority. Find ideas to develop a kick-ass self-care routine and stick to it. This is vital to helping you strengthen resiliency.
- Find your personal way to help build resilience. You may want to journal about your deepest thoughts and feelings related to trauma or other stressful events. Therapy may be just what the doctor ordered. Meditation and spiritual practices help some people build connections and restore hope. Find what is likely to work well for you and stay with it.
No matter how life has treated you, your experience in life is a major motivator to do more and help more people. This, in turn, will help you and strengthen your foundation even more.
If you are in recovery from addiction you can teach others how to become and stay sober. Adult survivors of childhood abuse can be an inspiration to help others work through their processing, and help them understand that it isn’t their fault. Someone with great drive and success in life helps to inspire others and in turn feels happiness from helping them.
Ask yourself: How much can you teach others from your past experiences? Will you reach out to the world and say, “I’m here. I can help because I know!” Is today the day you stop attaching yourself to a painful past and instead focus on a more positive future?
Whether you are doing well or hurting at this time in life, you can do so much more. Be the concrete for others, and become the support for people who will appreciate you forever, whether you know it or not. Your life’s journey will be made easier when you build your road to resilience.
About the author: JR is a CA Addiction Treatment Counselor Level 2 (CATC II), Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor, Alumni Coordinator, Veterans Support Group Counselor, and USMC Veteran Sgt. He spends his days helping others make positive changes and set goals on their road to recovery.
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