Six Ideas for Building Resilience

By Rev. Sue Goodwin

  1. Try to avoid spinning. Resilient people tend to be COPERS. They don’t say: “Why me?? What can I do to be released from this horrible situation?” Resilient people say “Why not me?” Bad things happen to everyone.
  2. Resilient people cultivate support and seek support. They do not, as popular myth would have you think, go it alone. If you have a life that is under-peopled, it is a good idea to build up your human/social network. I think of this as scaffolding. UUCWC is a great place btw to find such scaffolding.
  3. Resilient people know how to escape. There are many challenges that cannot be resolved in a short period of time; these are the marathons of life as opposed to the sprints. There is a lot in the world right now that feels overwhelming…that is testing our strength. Resilient people fight back when they can, AND they learn to take mental breaks. They also try to keep a sense of humor in the midst of it all.
  4. Resilient people use what they have learned to help others. Witness: How many gun control advocates have lost a loved one to gun violence? Grief support groups are typically founded by those who have lost loved ones.
  5. Resilience requires us to locate an internal source of control. This requires us to suspend cynicism and believe that we can have an impact upon our ability to thrive. We cannot give in to feelings of helplessness instead we must believe that our actions can help to change the world.
  6. Finally, cultivating resilience is aided by cultivating self-compassion. Try seeing yourself as the hero of your story. Write about your own experiences with adversity. This has proven to be enormously helpful to people who have faced life challenges. A study at the University of Virginia found that writing our survival stories has helped people who suffer from mood disorders. It has also helped cancer patients and heart attack survivors. “Writing forces people to reconstrue whatever is troubling them and find new meaning in it.”

None of us knows how the plot of our life will unfold, but each of us has the opportunity to see adversity as a beginning or an ending. Resilience is what helps us see beginnings…new horizons…hope in the unseen. These upcoming months are going to require resilience on the part of good Americans. Stay strong while staying in your body. Be grounded as you also take flight. Above all, don’t give up.