Does aging enhance or diminish our resilience?
The dictionary definition of resilience goes something like this: the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness; the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity.
As we age, we need to develop our resilience to meet the challenges we face. We do experience difficulties we have not faced before. We experience more losses, diminished capacity, reduced finances, and on and on.
Yet what we do know from our gained experience and wisdom is what the renown Buddhist Nun Pema Chodron says: “No feeling is permanent.” Now we know that this too shall pass.
But how can we create a sense of resilience when there are times when we just don’t feel we have the capacity to recover quickly? It doesn’t just happen because we want it to.
Resilience is a practice just like meditation or learning a new skill. We can’t just summon resilience whenever we need it. It becomes part our inner voice that tells us we can come back stronger.
In my life, I have faced many of the challenges that we all share. I have lost loved ones – my parents, my best friend, my sister. I have had financial problems. I have had things just not go my way for a variety of reasons, and most likely so have you.
How long can we put it all on hold? Do we sit, do nothing, mope, berate ourselves and immerse in self-pity? NO!
I think resilience is also found in the process of getting from one set of circumstances to another. I love the quote and podcast from entrepreneur Marie Forleo, “Everything is figureoutable.” So let’s figure this out!
Here are my 7 keys to becoming resilient:
Begin with a clear perception of the situation. Ask yourself the tough questions and answer honestly. What role, if any, did you play in the difficulty?
Become more self-reliant. Others can help and support you, but the real work of resilience is counting on your own strengths to bounce back.
Offer support to those who are in a similar situation. The more others need your strength and support, the more you will need to develop your own resilience.
Find your motivation. You need to develop the ability to take charge of any problem that arises. Stand up and do whatever is necessary to get back on course.
Resilience is creative. With resilience, you can look at a situation and creatively determine the best way out. You are enterprising in your approach toward starting over.
A resilient person has humor. You may cry until you start laughing, but a sense of humor is so important when turning your life around. You’ve got to take your goals seriously, and you’ve got to take yourself seriously. But at times, you’ve also got to be able to laugh at yourself and your situation.
A resilient person has a strong sense of morality. Whatever you do to get back on your feet, make sure it’s consistent with your moral values. Make sure that your upcoming success is of service, and not at the expense of, others.
The more obstacles you face and overcome, the more times you falter and get back on track, the more difficulties you struggle with and conquer, the more resilience you will naturally develop. If you are resilient, there is nothing that can hold you back.
“Adversity is a fact of life,” I read on Psychology Today. “Resilience is that indescribable trait that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back at least as strong as before. Rather than letting difficulties or failure overcome them and drain their resolve, they find a way to rise from the ashes.”
So, according to psychologists, resilient people have common traits that keep them on their feet. These include “a positive attitude, optimism, the ability to regulate emotions, and the ability to see failure as a form of helpful feedback.”
Optimism, though sometimes we underestimate at the concept, softens the influence of stress on both our mind and body, allowing us to rise above stressful situations. As a result, we can think more clearly about our circumstances and consider the steps we need to take to turn the odds in our favor.
Resilience may sound like a supernatural quality, but there’s nothing magical about it. Simply put, resilience involves hard mental work that helps people change a gloomy life situation toward a more favorable one.
So, let’s all practice resilience and learn to come back from our adversities.
“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.” — Rumi
How often do you have to be resilient? What was the last time the odds weren’t in your favor? How did you deal with the situation? Was it easy or difficult to summon resilience and conquer your circumstances? Please share your story with our community!