I recently went to training and the topic was “Habits of stress resilient people.” I was drawn to this topic because 1) I am constantly feeling some type of stress 2) the word “habit” lead me to believe that there are things in my control that I could possibly do more of, or less of, to help build my resiliency to life’s stressors and 3) I needed the CEU’s.
I think it is easy for us to forget how capable and resilient we actually are. It is easier for us to focus our attention on how hard a particular moment in our life was and all the factors that made it painful vs acknowledging ourselves for what we persevered through.
One of my favorite slides from the training stated:
“ Those who have not avoided stress, but rather have found ways to face it, learn to regulate emotions and choose to take on challenges; this is the way to build resiliency.”
This makes complete sense!
How can you become resilient to something that you have not experienced on a continuous basis? This may seem scary or silly to some and you may be asking yourself, "why would I choose to expose myself to stress, or hurt, or making a mistake?" Well, have you had an experience in your life that you can look back on and say “that was one of the most challenging times of my life, but I wouldn’t change a thing?”
What comes to mind for me is my very first shift as a counselor at a residential facility for severely emotionally disturbed children. I was still finishing my bachelors in psychology, I had never heard of a group home prior and I had never been exposed to children with trauma. I had also never been in an environment where verbal and physical aggression was a daily occurrence. So when a fight broke out between three of the residents during my very first shift my heart began to race. I felt disoriented. I had no clue what to do whatsoever because I had never experienced anything like that before! After that night I had two options, react to my emotions, quit and never work in that type of environment again, or stay, learn how to handle those situations, and grow some thicker skin. I am so thankful I chose the latter! Those three years working at the residential facility helped build my resiliency to a level that has shaped who I am as a clinician and ability to work with severely traumatized individuals.
What often happens is we make resiliency so much more difficult than it needs to be.
We are resilient by nature; resiliency is a natural part of life. Resiliency is also a choice. Take a moment to think about all you have been through, all that you have overcome and all the will power it took to get through.
Do not ever underestimate yourself or minimize your experience.
At the end of the day, that is where hope can stem from, knowing you have done it before, and can get through it again.