What is resilience anyway?
To be resilient/to have resilience is to be able to quickly “bounce back” or “recover from” a traumatic/stressful experience. It’s the ability to self-regulate, self-soothe, and get grounded when times are tough.
How do you find your resilience?
Resilience develops when we learn to effectively self-regulate. When we develop the ability to recognize the interconnectivity between our minds and our bodies, noticing their effect on one another, we give our nervous system a chance to reset itself. As we gain resources, our resilience increases, allowing us to “bounce back” more readily than when we are dysregulated. Ultimately, your resources should come from within, because wherever you are, there you are. You can’t escape yourself (trust me, I’ve tried).
Tap into your resources:
- Breathe – Breathing is our most magnificent resource. It’s portable and it’s always with us. Exhaling longer than your inhale can trigger the parasympathetic nervous system, our internal ER. Try this simple breathing exercise:
Sit in a quiet space where you can relax. Softly close your eyes and begin to notice your breath:
Inhale – one
Exhale – two
Inhale – three
Exhale — four
Do this until you get to 10. Repeat 3 times.
This is a simple mindfulness technique that invites calm. Your parasympathetic nervous system can jump in here, slowing the heart beat and cooling the breath.
- Meditation and yoga: both of these are contemplative practices that invite you to get back in touch with your internal mechanisms. With practices like meditation and yoga, your internal resources have permission to flourish.
Do we all have it?
Stressful events happen…to all of us. How we recover from them and process them is contingent on our personal histories. For example, if we are raised in an environment where we are silenced and unheard, then managing stress will be reminiscent of that: we may squash it, bury it, or set it aside. We will try to “deal with it.” In reality, we aren’t dealing with anything when we do that; in fact, we are denying it and allowing it to fester. At the same time, if we are raised in an environment where communication is encouraged, and feelings are met with understanding, one’s resilience to stress will tend to be higher.
Is it easier for some to access resilience than it is for others?
I believe that most people can develop resilience if they have a support system in place and encouragement to work with their shadows and unpack their traumas. However, there needs to be an opportunity available to do this work, or the desire to seek help. If one comes from an impoverished environment, their ability to resource would be limited. At the same time, someone with more options would be more likely to have access to resources, making resilience more easily attainable. I often use myself as a reference when talking about overcoming adversity because I wasn’t provided with the best hand of cards. I definitely had a few jokers in there. What I did have was a deep desire to change my circumstances. This gave my resilience a chance to develop and for that I am grateful. Being an at-risk teen didn’t provide me with a lot of outside resources.
At Visions, we have a remarkable staff of trauma-informed therapists to help families develop resilience. We are forward thinking in our approach to trauma, recognizing that each person requires an individualized process, and understanding the challenges people are faced with when doing this work. At the core, we are lighting the internal fire of hope and healing in our families, empowering each client to discover their ability work with their difficulties in more sustainable, healthy ways. Our nervous systems respond well to kindness and compassion, and with support, these actions can begin to come from ourselves. It means we have to muddle through the shame and grief that plagues us, and give ourselves permission to heal. Recovery is possible; resilience is possible; you are possible.