Resilience

You are paralyzed. You feel immeasurably numb, and like you’re exploding at the same time. Your heart is beating out of your chest, but everything else is moving in slow motion. You are suddenly watching yourself from afar, watching yourself try to make sense of how your world could have just been turned upside down in such a short amount of time, maybe in a matter of minutes, or seconds. Either way, you are left finding it difficult to figure out how to breathe, much less how to pick up the pieces, and brush yourself off.

We’ve all experienced some kind of event that has turned our lives upside down. The feeling of instability that comes with any tragedy is a universal, and often visceral, feeling. In light of the heartbreak and chaos that recent events have caused in our country, I think it’s important to focus on how to move forward when this universal feeling of tragedy-caused instability strikes.

Resilience / noun / re·sil·ience  / ri-ˈzil-yən(t)s /
An ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.

What a beautiful concept. In the most trying times of our lives, when what is seemingly “the worst” has happened, I think we all hope for resiliency. We all want to be able to mentally recover (as quickly as we can) from whatever has knocked us down. The problem is that we don’t know where to start, and understandably so.

Whenever I need to be resilient, I keep a few practices in mind. Firstly, gratitude is a powerful emotion that actually has transformative effects on us. Practicing gratitude is a proven commonality between the most successful and happy people among us. When facing tragedy, it’s important to focus on, and hold onto what you have to be grateful for. Keeping a gratitude journal, or even just consciously reminding yourself about the things you’re thankful for is a great way to expedite the healing process, and foster resiliency.

In Norah Casey’s 2016 Ted Talk, she divulges “the cure for grief”. According to her, and her research, the cure for grief is motion. Working towards a goal, and keeping yourself active physically as well as mentally is extremely important in combatting the negative emotions that come with any tragedy. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t allow yourself time to process your emotions, it just means that you have to keep moving, so as to not be consumed by your adversity.

Altruism is another great practice that promotes resiliency. A 2017 study, showed that altruism was one of the qualities among US veterans that predicted strong resilience. I’m a big believer in the “helper’s high”. Caring for others gives you a sense of purpose, which, dovetailing off of what we just learned about staying in motion, is a great goal to keep moving towards.  

Lastly, looking at the big picture to gain perspective is always beneficial, but in doing this, remind yourself of your past comebacks, as a recent New York Times article puts it. Rather than thinking about people starving in another country, for example, and telling yourself “it could always be worse”, think about the times in the past that you’ve overcome challenges. You’ll be able to relate to yourself far more than anyone else. Reflecting on the fact that you’ve recovered from hard times in the past will help fuel the resiliency you need now, or will need in the future.

Whatever mountains you’re climbing, or feel like you’re falling off of, remember these words. Be resilient, and strong like you know you are.

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If you’d like to donate to a hurricane relief fund, Heart to Heart International is a great organization dedicated to supporting those who were affected by the recent hurricanes.

If you'd like to help the victims of the tragedy in Las Vegas, you can donate to a GoFundMe campaign created by Steve Sisolak, the chairman of the Clark County commission. You can also help out by supporting the Southern Nevada chapter of the American Red Cross, or by donating blood if you're near the area.


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