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Resilient Means Taking Care of You

Creative Commons LicensePhoto credit: edenpictures

Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.

— Groucho Marx

Somehow, we’ve gotten it into our heads that resilient people are never down, never sad, always up for a challenge, and capable of leading the rest of us out of our funk into the sunshine.  If that’s the definition of resilient, it ain’t me.

Although there are people who seem to always be up, we need to remember that some people are just blessed with a sunny disposition – dang them!  One of my good friends is like that.  Very seldom is she down or even subdued.  This is good and bad.  There are times when I would like to strangle her, but there are times that I look forward to seeing her knowing that odds are that she will lift my mood.

She’s so sunny that sometimes I wonder if she’s even in touch with reality, but I know that she is, off and on.  There are times when things clearly have gotten her down, but she doesn’t allow it to last very long.  As I’ve watched her over the years, I think the key is that she doesn’t dwell on the bad stuff.  It’s there and she knows it (at least some of the time), but it doesn’t define her life.  Problems, like joy, exist in the here and now – and that’s where she tries to keep them.

Adversity is Temporary

Every year has its challenges.  This year has been no different.  Challenges and joys, these are what build a life.  Resilience helps us to see and appreciate the joys among the challenges.

My definition of resilience is that the resilient person is one whom, when faced with adversity, knows that however long it takes, they have the skills and persistence to eventually come out on the other side.  Depending on the adversity, they may be a changed person, but they know that they will persist.  Adversity is temporary.

Let me give you two examples.

Example #1 – Good Morning, Grouchy

This is a time of year that I struggle with allergies.  I don’t sleep deeply and I don’t feel rested.  Often, despite being a good girl and going to bed on time, I still am sleepy off and on during the day.

Because I haven’t slept well, I usually wake up grouchy.  I drag my butt out of bed and get ready for work, but I’m not a happy camper.  Once in the car, my self-talk is horrendous.  It’s not that I’m saying bad things about myself (lazy, clumsy, disorganized), it’s that I’m predicting an awful day – for no good reason.  So, I try to distract myself with the radio.  Depending on what’s on, I may feel better when I get to work, or not.  But, no matter, I paste a smile on my face, act like a human being, and eventually my mind follows.

What keeps me from circling down the drain is that I know that what I feel is temporary.  I know it’s not “justified” by circumstances.  I know it’s a figment of my imagination.  So, although I may not be able to drag myself into a better mood, I can keep myself from falling deeper into the pit.

Allergies are my semi-annual adversity and experience and consciousness has helped me to muddle through.

Example #2 – Growing Up

As I get older, grief has become a larger part of my life.  It’s not that I’ve lost more people recently, because this phenomenon has been going on for the last decade or so.  It’s that as I’ve grown up, I’ve become more conscious of other people’s pain.  And I grieve more because of this consciousness.

Resilience plays a role in grieving, but it definitely is not about “bouncing back” quickly.  It is about knowing how to work through the process.

Every loss affects us differently.  Grief is a process that is the same, yet different each time we encounter it.

Sometimes, grief makes us put our lives on hold while we try to figure out “What next?”  Sometimes, it wakes us up and helps us to appreciate today.  It can leave us curled up in a ball.  It can have us questioning where we’re going.  Grief must be respected.  It’s a pay me now or pay me later situation.  We may be able to pretend for a while, but in the end, we grieve.  It’s the only way for us to get through to the other side.

And grief has a purpose.  It’s not just about missing the people we lost.  It’s about remembering that our lives are finite and we must reconsider and rethink how we choose to spend our limited time.  It’s about remembering the joys as well as the losses.

Happy Holidays?!?!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.  The fact is that, for some people, it’s the most difficult time of the year.  It’s the one time of year that there is really no way to avoid, unless you can stay home and disconnect from the world.

The holidays are hard for so many people, and yet, the hardest part is that they must be endured.  Ignoring them is impossible.

I realize that for some of you, this is blasphemy, but for those who understand, here are a few survival techniques.

  • Engage in self-soothing behaviors.  For me, this is escapism, reading or movies.  It may involve chocolate, but more than anything, I need to indulge the need to escape reality for a little while.
  • Make time for the everyday things that bring you peace.  If going for a walk is part of how you stay sane during the rest of the year, then make time to take your walk.  It will ground you and help get you through.
  • Keep in touch with the people who are in your support structure.  Family may or may not be part of that group.  AT&T used to have an ad that said, “Reach out and touch someone.”  Reach out and talk to or email your friends, even if in the midst of holiday madness, you don’t have the time to go visit.

These little things may seem impossible, but resilience is about knowing what works to get you through and developing the skills to get it.  Create your own holiday oasis.  It is well worth it!

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