As I mentioned in the introduction to this series last week, I made a list of qualities & characteristics I believe capture the essence of what it means to be a Strong Girl. Each represents an important skill to be honed or acquired. Today I am going to focus on resiliency which is the ability to adapt to change. Resilience allows us to withstand adversity and bounce back despite downturns in life. It gives people the strength needed to process and overcome hardships, making it a core Strong Girl characteristic.
Those lacking resilience become easily overwhelmed, turning to unhealthy ways of coping during times of great stress (acting out, unbalanced sleeping or eating habits, dwelling on grief, denying reality).
So how do we adapt to change, loss, and adversity? The key is working through emotional pain and suffering; this can be done a number of ways:
- Cultivate gratitude, even if this means lowering the bar. Take time each day to recognize what went right in the midst of everything going wrong.
- Be compassionate and kind – we are all struggling. There is loss everywhere – jobs, homes, financial security, and lives. Do not lose your humanity as well. (Loss of one’s humanity occurs when love & respect for fellow humans turn to hate & contempt for whole groups.)
- Choose to face and accept reality. Instead of clinging to “what was” it is important to accept “what is.” Once we can accept what is taking place we can come up with a plan to get on with the business of living.
- Pursue everyday life with purpose. I am a gatherer-of-people by nature, it is what I do for work and in ministry. While COVID-19 has changed the way I act, it does not change my purpose. This means pursuing ideas for creative connection – working up a Plan B for my business and letting some very good things go. If you are struggling to find everyday purpose right now, take some time to think about the things that matter most. What are you good at? Brainstorm. Think of unconventional ways of pursuing meaning and purpose that don’t require breaking the law. Reach out to people virtually. Write letters. Make treats and drop them off at your neighbor’s front door.
- Don’t allow bitterness and blame to take root. This will only hurt you in the long run. Keep close tabs on your own words and actions; how might they be perceived by others? Focus more on your own behavior than the behavior of those around you.
- The way you reframe situations in your head defines you. Most people possess a negativity bias, focusing more on negative experiences than positive. Changing this tendency requires a shift in attitude. How might something good eventually come from this situation? What have I gained through this experience? What have I learned? How might this change me for the better? Reframe your thoughts to look at the brighter side.
To thrive in times of uncertainty, we need to learn to roll with changes taking place. Remind yourself that this too will eventually pass. In the meantime, focus on living well today!