When my daughter starts having trouble breathing, I sing Disney songs from her favorite movies. “Look at this stuff,” I begin in my seriously awful and off key voice. It brings a hint of a smile as I bring the mask for her cough assist device to her face. “I will keep singing until you start breathing girlie!” Moments like this will either break you or build your resiliency.
Undoubtedly, strength and resiliency are attributes falsely equated to only those who don’t struggle to cope or who don’t rail against their fate. Rarely is the one who is steeped in emotional suffering considered strong or resilient. The truth of the matter is that resiliency is NOT just for those who seem to conquer their stress with the same ease as making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. This is decidedly not the case! Resiliency is LEARNED and not inherent. That is to say something you are born with.
What is resilience?
Resiliency is how we stand back up after we get knocked down.
So, isn’t that kind of obvious? We don’t really have a choice but to get back up, right? Not always, and we should be proud of ourselves for making that brave first step. Just last April, The NY Times stated that the suicide rate in the United States is at a thirty year high. Everyone has a breaking point, and too many stressors can push even the most resilient person to it. According to Dr. George Bonanno, a clinical psychologist, not only can it push you to the breaking point but how you view those stressors “directly correlates to resiliency.” Too feel as if you have lost control, has serious and potentially life threating consequences.
Why am I focusing on resiliency and mental health?
The grit to see yourself in a positive light, to trust yourself to solve the problem, and to be able to manage your deep feelings and rebuild confidence, is something that comes with facing adversity. When situations aren’t shaping up as planned or when the size of your worries seem larger than life, that’s when our resiliency is tested. I’m focusing on resiliency, because it’s important when you have anxiety. In spite of the shame and lack of understanding that surrounds the disorder, resiliency can help you stand up and tackle those obstacles head on.
How I build resiliency in my own life and you can too!
- I travel. Traveling often pushes me outside of my comfort zone. When I am in that zone, I have to learn to trust myself, my instincts, and my ability to figure things out. After all, you can’t just throw your hands up in the air and give up! You have to find your way home!
- I go to therapy. Besides being able to say things like, “Oooooh! My therapist says blah, blah, blah!” you also get to take stock of your emotions and learn to take care of yourself emotionally.
- I accept myself and my life, and believe in amor fati. Amor fati means “love of one’s fate” in Latin. Personally, I don’t believe our life is predestined, but I do believe in loving the life we have. I know that partly comes from a place of privilege. This is not to say my life is entirely charmed and loving my life is easy. Trust me, it can be really hard.
What is Amor Fati?
“Amor fati is a Latin phrase that may be loosely translated as “love of fate” or “love of one’s fate”. It is used to describe an attitude in which one sees everything that happens in one’s life, including suffering and loss, as good or, at the very least, necessary, in that they are among the facts of one’s life and existence, so they are always necessarily there whether one likes them or not. Moreover, amor fati is characterized by an acceptance of the events or situations that occur in one’s life.”
How does that apply to my life?
I accept the realities of my life, the good, the bad, and the ugly. By doing so, I can make honest assessments of it. Subsequently, this allows me to make practical plans and put them into action. Each of us builds resiliency by grabbing the bull by the horns and not by sticking our heads in the sand. I work hard to find the beauty in my life, even amongst the hard things.
Despite all of the hardships, it is a beautiful life!