Like a palm tree, a person with resilience bends in the storm, but doesn't break.
Like it or not, one of the great paradoxes of life is that the only permanent thing is change.
And when our friend “change” visits us, he often becomes an uncomfortable guest, arriving without warning when we are least prepared to receive him. We hope he’ll always come with good news and a suitcase full of laughs, joy, and happiness, but we know that it’s usually the opposite: tears, sadness, desolation… tragedy. In other words, a hurricane.
Let’s be honest, most people don’t like like change. Few of us would run through the streets shouting, “Hooray! How exciting! Another change in my life! What joy!” Most of us are afraid of change because it’s unknown and it takes us out of our comfort zone. But as soon as we’re able to accept the way change makes us feel, the simpler it will be to handle it with fortitude.
What can help us to land on our feet when the ground seems to be moving beneath us? It’s all about our spiritual strength and our interior ability to accept with courage what is happening, to recognize the reality before us, and to accommodate, or adapt, our life to the change.
Resilience. We need to make it a way of life, develop it every day, and decide for it in all the changes that come to us. Because life doesn’t stop to ask us, “What would you like to happen today?” Things just happen. And resilience is our secret weapon for rolling with whatever comes our way, like it or not.
Resilience comes from the Latin term “resilio,” which means leap or spring back; rebound, recoil, retreat. Resilient people are able to face painful, stressful, or difficult situations and come out stronger afterwards. It’s not just about surviving an experience, but about learning from it, and of taking it as a life lesson that makes you a richer person.
It’s very important to develop our resilience — interior attitude — and make it part of our life. There is a long list of positive consequences — or advantages — that we can experience if we choose to be resilient people. I’ll mention just some of them.
- It allows us to recover. Resilient people are like palm trees that stay upright in spite of the weight of the storm. Have you ever gone through situations that you thought you’d never survive, and now you look back and feel surprised at how far you’ve come? It’s almost as if we had never gone through that hell. If we stay on our feet and find ourselves better people today after a tragedy, it’s thanks to our resilience.
- It puts our skills and talents to work in hard times. Resilient people will always find a way to answer the “what for” of whatever is happening to them. They recognize that their best weapons are the skills they have at that time, along with those they will discover on the road of change. How many capacities, skills, and talents have you realized you had only after a tragedy hit?
- It helps us overcome sadness more easily. Resilient people accept that it’s okay to feel sadness, but they don’t make it their permanent home. And they achieve that thanks to their fighting spirit.
- It helps us live with a sense of humor. Instead of getting stuck in the melodrama of complaints and victimhood, resilient people know how to laugh at themselves and at what is happening to them because they have the certainty of finding light at the end of the tunnel. Their motto is: “I laugh at life before life laughs at me.”
- It helps us learn from our mistakes. Resilient people know how to learn from their mistakes, both their own and those of others. They don’t feel like victims of anyone or anything; they take responsibility for their own mistakes.
- Resilient people don’t give up. The word “I can’t” doesn’t exist in the vocabulary of resilient people. And if by chance they can’t do it by one path, they’ll try by another until they get it. They never give up, not out of sadness or disillusionment or discouragement. Although it may seem that the world is falling down on them, they live with their eyes on heaven and their feet on earth, expecting tomorrow to be an even better day. They always find a reason to keep on moving forward.
- They manage stress and pressure. If you really want to know someone, watch how they react in a time of crisis. That’s where their true self comes out. Resilient people don’t let themselves be carried away by stress or by the pressure of the moment or circumstances. On the contrary, they have an attitude of “this, too, shall pass. It’s just a change…”
- They know how to control negative emotions. Resilient people take a few breaths and don’t let themselves be carried away by their emotions, much less by negative ones that drain them and leave them depressed. They don’t let their emotions get the better of them. Instead, they have mastery and control over them. They certainly do have feelings, but they also know how to get out from under their emotions when they start to feel dragged down.
- They grow in spite of having problems. Resilient people don’t let the weight of their problems become an obstacle to grow in every sense. In fact, they see tribulations as opportunities to be better, more virtuous people. For them, each problem carries its own lesson.
- They gain greater capacity to face problems. Resilient people develop a wonderful ability to face any adversity life throws at them because their fundamental attitude is positive and hopeful. They are certain that if life is allowing them to walk through a valley of tears, it’s because they have all the capacities, talents, strength, and resources to face it.
- They know how to face fear. Resilient people are able to admit that they feel fear, but they don’t let it haunt them all the time, much less paralyze them. Instead, they draw energy from fear to stand up and face it.
The secret of resilience: It’s a choice
This article was originally published in the Spanish edition of Aleteia and has been translated and/or adapted here for English speaking readers.