“There is, in certain men…a quality of resilience, a sturdy refusal to acknowledge defeat…”
“Resilience is accepting your own new reality, even if it’s less good than the one you had before. You can fight it, you can do nothing but scream about what you’ve lost, or you can accept that, and try to put together something that’s good.”
“It’s your reaction to adversity, not adversity itself, that determines how your life story will develop.”
Dieter F. Uchtdorf
“I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.”
“On the other side of the storm is the strength that comes from having navigated through it. Raise your sail and begin.”
Gregory S. Williams
It seems that some people are just born with resilience—with the sheer determination to pick themselves up, to fight back no matter what is thrown at them. Well, I was not one of them. I am ashamed to say I even had a cutesy little quip I would throw out with a smirk on my face:
“When the tough get going, I go to lunch.”
It is odd, I think, that as much of an introvert as I was, I still sought solace from others during the bad times. I thought of myself as having delicate emotions that were easily bruised, and I looked towards others to ease the hurt or sadness away.
But, life happens. It happens to all of us with occasional brutality and indifference. None of us is the center of the Universe. We can figure out how to get through and get on, or we can be cast by the wayside. I have definitely had tough times in my life when I fought back and forged a way forward, when I drew from the nascent resilience inside of me. There have also been other times when the suddenness of a change, when its very cruelty, has just cut my feet out from under me.
So, how do you develop and nurture that resilience inside yourself?
I think it starts with developing a strong sense of who you are, of learning to love and accept and respect that person. We each know more about our own faults and shortcomings than anyone else does. We also know less about other people’s faults and shortcomings, so it’s easy to find ourselves lacking. How often do we think about, and develop, our strengths? Those strengths are just as real—often more so—than our weaknesses. Discovering and nurturing them gives us a stronger sense of who we are as human beings, of what our unique capacities and gifts are. It gives us the ability to appreciate ourselves. Not just appreciate ourselves, but trust ourselves to know that we are each enough.
I once mistook self-confidence for self-pride, but they are quite different. Self-pride needs external validation; it needs the affirmation of the world. Self-confidence is the internalized knowledge that you have everything you need to succeed. It is the voice within yourself that whispers “I can do this. I will do this.”
When you deeply believe in yourself, you can then use that belief to fuel your determination. It is hard to be determined when you believe in your own failure. But, marry determination with self-confidence and there is so much we can each accomplish—as long as we also believe in what we’re doing.
I think that was the final link in the chain for me: believing that what I was doing to get healthy and strong was extraordinarily important. Knowing I had what I needed inside myself to be successful; believing that success was vital—these made me resilient and determined and strong. They kept my eyes forward on where I was going rather than stopping and saying, “Where I am now is good enough.”
Resilience doesn’t mean you can overcome every adversity—but it does mean that you will use all the extraordinary power within yourself to do so. It means you will face the walls that appear in front of you and look for solutions rather than obstacles. It means that you understand bad things happen in life, and bad things will happen to you—but you can depend on yourself to figure out your next, best new path.
Raise your sail and begin!