by Suzanne E. Sky, MTOM, Life Resilience Coach
"Resilience keeps inviting us toward strength, possibility, and healing."
~ Strozzi Institute paper: Embodied Leadership
Resilience is intrinsic to well-being. It's our innate ability to adapt, make changes, and grow through the daily challenges of life. We all have this adaptive, resilient capacity built in to our physiology, heart, and nervous system. Although at times, this capacity may seem shut down or inaccessible, it is possible to reconnect with our inner vitality and our creative vision to grow forwards. We can also learn resilience skills that enhance our natural abilities or develop new ones, just as working out develops muscles we already have and helps make us stronger and more flexible.
Daily, Short-term Resilience
The traditional definition of resilience – our ability to bounce back or "the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties" (Merriam-Webster) – is easy to understand. Throughout our day, we repeatedly need to quickly recover and come back to ourselves or our task at hand despite challenges, distractions, or minor events.
Life Resilience - Long-term
When we're faced with ongoing challenges, stress, or major life events this requires more than the ability to "bounce back". We need to draw on inner resources and outer relationships; we usually need to make adjustments in some or many areas of our life. We're not "bouncing back" we're often making profound changes and learning new skills so we can grow and move in a new direction.
Neuroscience teaches us that our brain, nervous system, and body has a tremendous capacity for change (neuroplasticity) throughout our whole life span. One of the main keys to facilitate change is through developing embodied self-awareness. Here we can become aware of possibilities that can allow us to make positive choices even through adversity.
Positive Imagination, Creativity, & Meaning
Bessel van der Kolk, MD, a leading psychiatrist in the field of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) pioneered working with those suffering trauma after war and abuse. He finds the ability to imagine a "positive and sustaining" future to be a key component of resilience and even the ability to resolve trauma.
Staci Haines of the Strozzi Institute find that this positive imagining of our future "keeps inviting us toward strength, possibility, and healing."
Imagination is a key component of creativity; whether we are creating art or creating our life. I've known clients and we all know friends and family who dealt with intense grief or other emotional pain through creating works of art. In creating, we reconnect with our heart, with the mystery of life, and perhaps with something meaningful beyond ourselves. Finding meaning and purpose in our lives is yet another quality of resilience, says Judith Lewis Herman a psychiatrist, researcher and teacher at Harvard Medical School.
"Resilience can fuel happiness, connection, and well-being. It's what keeps hope alive, gives us strength, and lets us thrive."
~Strozzi Institute Paper: Embodied Leadership
Self-Compassion and Connection
Our imagination and creativity (key components of resilience) encompass the ability to see difficulties or challenges as invitations. Perhaps it's an invitation to see something from a different perspective – to look deeper into our hearts, to reach out to someone else, or open to new possibilities.
The first step on this path is simple awareness; our ability to take a moment to listen inwardly. Each time we approach ourselves with kindness and curiosity, we open to new discoveries about ourselves and life. We open to our innate creative and intuitive capacity.
Staying connected with ourselves with self-compassion and caring is an essential quality of resilience. Maintaining positive connections with at least one meaningful person, and even better with a supportive group of people, is also essential to our well-being and resilience, especially in the face of adversity, trauma, and long-term stressful challenges.
“Self-compassion is a powerful factor in emotional resilience and strength. It helps you get through hardships."
- Chris Germer
In future articles, I'll continue to discuss resilience and introduce some embodied resilience practices.
From my heart to yours, Suzanne Sky - Life Resilience Coach
As a Life Resilience Coach, I offer a heart-centered approach to support purpose-driven women in transition in creating the meaningful life they love. We work together in a collaborative coaching process to identify practical steps you can take in alignment with your abilities, core values, and life vision so you can live your heart and create the impact you want. My whole person coaching integrates compassionate awareness, collaborative dialogue, gentle inquiry, and an invitation to engage in journaling and embodied awareness practices.
I offer a free 30-minute Connection Session to discuss the possibility of us working together. I'd love to meet you!