The oak fought the wind and was broken, the willow bent when it must and survived. Robert Jordan, American author
Trauma and extreme stress require us to tap into our resiliency—the capacity to adapt in the face of adversity. The loss of your mother (or other loved one), health challenges, job loss, divorce, a pandemic, or an unexpected move—all require resilience if we are going to move forward in a healthy way.
In my experience, I’ve found that those who demonstrate resilience generally have these six traits in common:
1. The ability to sustain supportive relationships with family and friends.
2. A strong self-image and confidence in their strengths.
3. The ability to accept change as a part of living rather than seeing it as insurmountable.
4. Good communication and problem solving skills.
5. Practice good self care.
6. Build on their past experiences and trust that what they survived made them stronger.
Affirmation: I am resilient.
Coaching questions: If you’re learning to flex your resiliency muscle, which of the six traits do you need to work on? What will you do today to build resiliency for the future?
If you can walk away from a landing, it’s a good landing. If you can use the aircraft the next day, it’s an outstanding landing. Chuck Yeager, test pilot
Yesterday was National Aviation Day, the legacy of a presidential proclamation first made by Franklin D. Roosevelt. The date was chosen because it was Orville Wright’s birthday.
Interesting, but, it’s Yeager’s quote that I love. For me, it’s a metaphor for life. When you can “walk away” or move forward after a personal tragedy it’s a good thing. If you can learn to, once again, find joy and live life to the fullest, it’s outstanding.
Affirmation: I will have a “good landing” while safeguarding my “aircraft.”
Coaching questions: What steps have you taken to have a good landing and leave your aircraft intact? Where did the strength and resilience come from? How can you help others do the same?
No one is so brave that he is not disturbed by something unexpected. Julius Caesar
On August 10, 2000, Keith, my presumably healthy, fifty-three-year-old husband of ten months, dropped dead of a heart attack. Caesar’s quote rang true. However, after losing a mother at age eight, I grew up with the reality that bad things happen unexpectedly.
Jamais Cascio, author and futurist, writes, “Resilience is all about being able to overcome the unexpected. Sustainability is about survival. The goal of resilience is to thrive.” Perhaps this resilience is one positive outcome for those of us who have experienced unexpected loss.
Affirmation: I can handle the unexpected.
Coaching questions: How do you handle the unexpected? What will help you develop greater resilience for life’s surprises?
My barn having burned to the ground, I can now see the moon. Japanese Haiku
I used this Haiku for one of my first blogs in March when we were still recovering from Hurricane Irma. We had lost so many trees in the mangroves next to our property that a water view emerged where there was none before. Now, more than a year after disaster struck, we are whole again—actually better than before the hurricane as everything that was replaced is to hurricane standards.
As I look back over my life, I can see how I’ve recovered from the storms and, as a result, become stronger and more resilient. I’m better prepared than ever for what is next.
Affirmation: I am strong and resilient.
Coaching question: In what way have you grown through the “burning barns” of your life?
Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city. George Burns, American comedian (1896-1996)
One thing about living at least a thousand miles from my extended family is I really appreciate seeing them. In less than two weeks we have enjoyed many kids, grands and great grands including most of two whole groups at a family wedding. Last night I had dinner followed by a tea party and outing to the park with three grands…this morning, breakfast before church with my son and his family including two little blonde girls. Bliss!
The most heart wrenching event in my life was divorce…yes, even worse than individual death because it was the death of a family. However, 27 years later we are all still intact, just in a different unit. Life is forever changing….sometimes by choice, often by chance. Learning how to be resilient is the key.
Affirmation: I can weather the storms of life.
Coaching questions: What does family mean to you? How do they make a difference in your life? What tools do you have to weather the storms?
The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now. Chinese proverb
As I walked our neighborhood here on Marco Island, Florida this morning, I noticed that there is still hurricane recovery going on everywhere. If you’re one of my international friends, on September 10, 2017, Irma, a category 3 hurricane, made landfall on our island. Although the general clean up was completed months ago, many, many roofs are still under repair, tree stumps are dotting yards, fans, lighting, siding, pool cages are still being replaced…and on and on. This is eight months after the storm. Fortunately, at our house, we are 98 percent restored with just fence repairs, some window finishing and painting to be complete but it has been a long haul.
The message that came to me this morning…recovery takes time and things might not be exactly as they were before the storm. It seems to me that this is true in life as well. After a “life storm”, recovery takes time, it may be in stages, new “trees” must be planted, and life will not be the same. It takes perseverance and resilience to weather the storms of life.
Affirmation: I am resilient and persistent.
Coaching questions: How are you doing with your recovery? What has helped you be persistent and resilient in your life’s journey? What can you do better?