Resiliency is More than Bouncing Back

leadingthroughadversity meaningmaking mindfulness personalgrowth resilience May 19, 2022

To be resilient requires more than bouncing back. Rather than a quick rebound, building resilience is a transformative process of recovering, adapting, and growing from adversity.

Resilience doesn’t deny our pain. It acknowledges the simple truth that life can be difficult and that at times we will suffer through hardships and losses. True resilience isn’t about being thick-skinned or toughing things out. It isn’t a mask that conceals our pain or the practice of sugar-coating problems, so we sound like we are ok. It is about being with our suffering and growing through it.

At the core of resilience is change. External events and hardships alter our status quo and create the need for adaptation. Absorption is a critical step in the resiliency process. It is the act of pausing, and taking time to be with the hard thing that is calling us to adjust and change. Absorption of stress or a traumatic event begins with an honest assessment of the situation. It requires self-awareness as we consider our feelings and reactions to what is happening.

It is only after this pause and time to absorb, that we are able to grow and transform in response to the hardship. Through this process of personal transformation, we build coping skills and develop resilience.

Thinking of resiliency as simply bouncing back ignores the important steps of absorption and transformation. The idea of rebounding implies that we quickly return to the way things were before our loss or difficulty. If that were the case, there would be no growth, no gain of self-knowledge, no new coping skills, no shifts in our perspectives, and no re-alignment of priorities. Having bounced back, we would simply return to the status quo as if nothing had happened. There would be no transformation. All of us who have experienced a real hardship in life and survived it, knows that we are not the same after the challenging experience as we were before. We do transform. This is the essence of resiliency. If we deny ourselves the grace and time for absorbing, we miss the real gift embedded in the challenge. We miss the opportunity to grow, to learn, and to become stronger.

Simple Ways to Pause and Absorb During Difficult Times

  • Take a few minutes each day for reflective journaling with these prompts
    • Today, I am feeling…
    • The most surprising thing about this situation is…
    • The biggest changes for me are…
    • The hardest thing for me is…
    • Some good things that can come from this are…
    • I am proud of myself for…
    • Something I am learning about myself is…
  • Allow for quiet time each day
    • Take a short walk in a place with interesting scenery
    • Allow a little time to listen to music that you love
    • Meditate
  • Connect regularly with a trusted friend to share your thoughts, concerns, and insights
    • Let them know what support you need
    • Share your feelings
    • Talk through concerns
    • Discuss what you are noticing about the situation and yourself
    • Share insights and meaning that are emerging



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