Resiliency is the ability to bounce back when it seems like life strikes out at you – to take whatever comes your way, handle it, learn from it and continue on. Resiliency comes into play when really difficult situations arise, such as, relationship break up, death of a loved one, loss of career – in fact any big financial challenge – helping someone you love (including yourself) with addiction and so on.
But resiliency goes far beyond that – it also factors into your daily existence… whether it be continuing to go to a job you dislike day after day; forcing yourself to go for treatments at the doctor that you would rather not; or even bringing up a difficult conversation that could result in confrontation with somebody that you’re not ready for.
It is resiliency that stops a person from giving up on life completely and it is resiliency that you use to pick yourself up and start piecing your life back together when you hit rock bottom.
So, as you can see resiliency is a very important part of your human experience. It helps you shine your light brightly for all the world to see – which is a big part of your personal vibrancy. It factors into your self-worth and it is the fountain from which your courage and willingness to ‘step up’ comes from. This is a critical thing for you to model to your child if you want to help them discover the easiest path through their journey in life. Remember – that doesn’t mean problem free – it just means dealing with any obstacles as effortlessly as possible.
An absolutely essential life message for our kids to internalize (and you too if you haven’t already) is that there is no problem so great it cannot be solved. Barabara Coloroso talks about this in her book Kids are Worth It – which was one of the first parenting books I read over 20 years ago and this idea has become a foundational piece of everything I teach.
When you truly believe that you can handle whatever life throws your way you will feel more capable, you will look more capable, in fact, you will be more capable. This doesn’t mean you will like what’s going on in your life, or that you will only have good days, but it does mean that no matter what surfaces for you, you’ll be confident that you can make it through.
An interesting little (overlooked) fact about resiliency – humans are born resilient. You do not need to learn how to become resilient, you just need to become aware – and fully embrace the fact that this is true.
We’ve all heard stories of people that have dealt with incredibly horrific situations yet managed to overcome them. In every situation nothing really changed to get them out of that situation – except for their own beliefs or willingness to do what needed to be done. They experienced a change of heart… a paradigm shift really… which allowed them to dig deep and find the strength they needed to start making changes.
The key to helping people thrive in life is to believe in their resiliency and to help them embrace the strength that comes with it. You can only be a victim if you choose to believe that you are – nothing changes when you adopt this belief except how vibrant and capable you feel; which in turn influences how capable you are in that moment.
So what can you do? I have 3 tips to help you get started:
1. Understand resiliency. Resiliency is a natural part of who you are. You do not need to teach your child how to be resilient… you just need to help him understand that it is there and learn how to keep it polished and working for him.
Give a firm and consistent message of, “I know you can handle this.” This doesn’t mean leaving your loved ones to their own devices and walking away… but it does mean allowing them to take ownership of the problem they are facing and letting them know you have their back.
Questions like, “So what do you think you can do to deal with this situation?” “How can I help you with this?” “I wonder what resources you have access to that might help?”
Comments like: “I wish I had a magic wand that I could wave so I could fix this for you, but I guess it’s not really my problem to fix… I’m here for you though if you want to brainstorm ideas you can try.” “This sounds like a difficult problem to solve, but I know you’ll figure out something. Let me know if you want my help coming up with a plan.”
Whatever you decide to say you want two messages to come through loud and clear – I know you can handle this and I’ve got your back.
Finally, if you are the one facing the difficult situation, remind yourself you have everything you need to deal with whatever comes up in your life – if you don’t know how to proceed, seek out supports, but know that you are the only one who can ‘fix’ it. Believe in your ability to do that and find other people to support you in that belief. Beware of those who want to do it for you – they often mean well, but they are not helping. One final note – remember that often times fixing a problem is as simple as accepting it and allowing it to unfold.
2. Refuse the role of victim… you cannot access your resiliency when you are playing the role of victim. As long as you are feeling sorry for yourself, dwelling on how unfair life is or blaming other’s for everything that is going wrong for you, you will not be able to climb out of the hole you are digging. I think of kinds of things (such as self-pity; revenge planning; victim mentality) as shovels and like to tell people, you can’t dig your way out of hole so if you’re in one, put down the shovel first.
No matter how difficult life is, it will never serve you to believe you are a victim. Our society right now is focused on creating this kind of thinking and too many people have bought into it. Your ego latches on to this fear and pulls it into your core, then uses it to stop you from taking calculated risks, from moving out of your comfort zone and even from trying to change a difficult situation. Many people stay in a bad relationship, continue to feed their own addiction, or move from one illness to another rather than putting their foot down and refusing to settle… they do this because their ego is running the show and the ego on its own, is fueled by fear.
Your life experiences are simply that – pieces of your journey meant to help you grow and evolve beyond your current level of understanding. When you choose to be afraid of them, you make the experience of going through them far more difficult and set yourself up for needing to repeat the process many times over.
Notice your fear, acknowledge it and figure out what you need to do to rise above it. The moment you shift out of the victim role, will be the moment your resiliency starts to shine lighting a path for how to move through your current situation.
3. Focus on resourcefulness and creativity… Human beings are different from other animals because we have imagination and an ability to think beyond what we already know. In fact, creativity feeds us – not just personally but as a society. Think about all the inventions that have occurred over time to allow us to not just survive, but to thrive. Things we take for granted, such as heat sources, fridges, motorized transportation, air travel, vitamin pills… really the list is endless.
It is this resourcefulness – that ability to find solutions to problems or to create things that allow us to function even better – that helps us evolve. Now some of you might want to argue that not all inventions have taken us in a positive direction – I would agree with that – however, for our purposes here, let’s focus on the ones that have.
Just to clarify, when I’m speaking of resourcefulness I’m talking about the ability to seek out whatever is available to you and to use that item or resource to help you deal with the situation at hand (sometimes it’s people, but it can also be the internet, a certain skill set, membership in a group, and even material items). Creativity, on the other hand, is the ability to create something new or use something in a new way… like using a pencil or paper clip to pin back your hair.
When I was in my late teens I used to love watching a show called MacGyver. What I loved about MacGyver was that he could get out of any situation – by using his resourcefulness (typically whatever he found lying around) and creativity. This polishes your resiliency beautifully because nothing will help you know that you can handle whatever life throws your way like creatively solving your own problem.
So don’t be afraid to think outside of the box or even to use the box in a new and unexpected way. The more you do this, the more powerful you will feel.
These 3 tips are just a starting point to helping you reconnect to your resiliency and become aware of what you might be doing to dull your child’s connection with their own. When you believe in your own resiliency you rise above a lot of the density in life and shift yourself from the role of potential victim into that of the hardy adventurer.