What's In Your Tool Box?

A place for support, intelligence, resources and recovery


What’s in your Tool Box?

I heard somewhere that adversity builds character, but I think it reveals character.  We’ve all had tough times, can you think of a time when you almost lost hope?  Think about a time when it seemed like things were not going to get better.  Yet, you pressed on.  What character traits can we identify as strengths needed to survive the tough times?  How can we further develop resilience and keep essential tools close at hand for the next time we’re up against the wall?

Boundaries: Resilient people are able to face difficult even devastating circumstances and not be defined by them.  One of my dearest friends and I were expecting our baby girls within a few months of each other in 1994.  My daughter was born, and we anxiously awaited the birth of Susan’s daughter Paige. We had so many plans for them.  On December 11 1994 she was born, full-term beautiful and perfect. She died the next day having never taken a breath on her own.  22 years later, it still puts a lump in my throat.   Susan and her husband went on to have a son and a daughter who are both attending university in Texas now.  They are happily married after 30 years and thriving. They were able to overcome this tragedy, looking back, I think I know how they did it. 

They had A Support Team. Resilient people surround themselves with support when they need it.  They allow themselves space and time to grieve.  Resilient people prepare for rough waters so they can ride out the storm, knowing things will get better. It’s ok to say what is and what is not helpful to your support team. Those are the people who listen to you, accept you and walk with you through the storm. 

They Were Self-Aware.  One of the most difficult things to master in life, I think, is to know one’s self.  What makes you tick? What do you need, like and want? What are your strengths, weaknesses, vulnerabilities, preferences, Who are you???  Know this and be well on your way to mastering resilience

They Were Able to Accept.  Resiliency means we come to terms with who we are, what happens to us and embrace the full range of human emotions as individuals, with resilience we canmove on with hope.  Some things just are, pain hurts, circumstances can be difficult, life ebbs and flows, be willing to bend so you don’t break.

They Embraced Solitary Time.  Resilient people are mindful of the present moment.  They reflect and process the emotions they are experiencing. We can do many things to distract ourselves from stress and pain, but we know if we don’t deal with our feelings they will deal with us.  Unrelieved emotional pain often manifests in the form of physical illness, addictions, and other maladaptive behaviors,  This is much easier said than done because we are wired to avoid pain and seek pleasure. It takes practice but it is worth it.

They Took it Easy on Themselves.  It’s ok not to have all the answers and to allow time for healing.  Feelings just are, they are not right or wrong, anger, rage, overwhelming fear, sadness, it doesn't matter, feeling are allowed. Trying to figure things out too quickly resilient people know can bring more pain and disappointment.  Things will unfold give it time, healing takes time.

They Avoided Over-Thinking.  When feeling overwhelmed resilient people get out of their own heads with activities like journaling, commiting free flowing thoughts to paper.  There is something about the written word that facilitates healing, it has been shown in studies to reduce anxiety, improve sleep, curb obsessive thinking, improve a depressed mood and bring feelings of hope. There are many healthy distractions other than writing, like,going to the gym, volunteering, walking, just get out of your head.

They Took Care of Themselves and Each Other.  When vulnerable and facing difficult challenges and loss, know what you need to do to take care of yourself; sleep, eat, exercise, do what fills your cup and recharges your batteries.  A massage? Yes please. Breath deeply and find something you are grateful for.  Put yourself first, try totreat yourself as kindly as you would treat someone you love and care for.  Be gentle with yourself. Forgive.

They Learned:  What parts are permanent and what parts will change with time?  Can the situation be reframed and thought of a different way? Again think back to a time when you thought things would not get better, how does that event look and feel now?  To keep things in perspective ask, will this event matter a day, a week, a year from now, 10 years from now?  Allow yourself time to adjust to a new normal and go one day at a time.

Share a story of your resilience; how did you take care of yourself?  Who was on your support team? What have you learned from painful setbacks?  Join the conversation below. 

Until Next time,