From challenging circumstances to unexpected traumas, there are times in our lives when we all have had, or will have, to face adversity. Here, columnist Grace Victory explores what it takes to truly get through the hard times, and shares the secrets to cultivating your own form of resilience
The societal focus on ‘resilience’ is often rooted in a somewhat toxic need to always be strong at any given moment.
The ‘strong woman’ trope, which is particularly felt by black women, can diminish softness, vulnerability, and lead to a lack of truth. I, like many of you reading this, have endured so much pain throughout my life that resilience and ‘bouncing back’ feels relatively easy. What other choice do we actually have? But also, at what cost does this resilience come?
Of course, resilience is something that’s needed in order to be OK after we experience something difficult. That’s life, and we can’t run from it. From name calling in the playground to an egotistical boss at your new job, or maybe even a narcissistic parent – all of us go through things that eventually help us to grow, but there is a sadness in having to be tough, too.
Often, resilient behaviours are in who we are, or shown to us subconsciously through at least one healthy relationship or attachment relating to our childhood – but this is something not everyone is fortunate enough to have experienced. As adults, I guess we have to reclaim what resilience looks like to us, and mourn or grieve our childhood experiences that perhaps shaped our bounce back ability (or lack thereof).
Now more than ever, resilience is something we need on a soul level, in order to navigate life with all its ups and downs. From the pandemic, which affected so many of us, to the political climate that, let’s be honest, is a complete and utter sh*t show. From the constant rise in the cost of living, to personal trauma that we are still trying to overcome, being able to carry on through such stress is important and necessary for our survival.
In my opinion, resilience is no longer about constantly being strong, but about making it through the day, the month, or the year. It’s about surrendering to your personal path or journey, and ultimately using your wellbeing tools to carry you through.
Resilience doesn’t need to be fighting an internal war, or stopping yourself from crying because you don’t want to appear weak. Resilience is leaning on your community, practising self-care, and doing more of the things that fill up your cup.
We cannot avoid what life throws at us – that’s something I’ve learnt, particularly in the past two years. Life is unpredictable, but if you do not have strong foundations and aren’t actively working towards them remaining strong, you could falter the moment harsh winds arrive. We can not only survive through the storm, but we can go on to thrive, with due care, self-compassion, and grace.
So, how do we become resilient? How can we actively begin to form resilience from today? Here are some suggestions:
Care for oneself
This is about maintaining or improving your own wellbeing with whatever that looks like to you. It could be through meditation, therapy, long walks, a balanced diet, or trying to get enough sleep etc. Self-care is how we take our power back!
Connection, through community and purposeful relationships
Intimacy is how we show vulnerability, and vulnerability is how we develop intimacy. These two very important skills are practised within our relationships. Talking, nurturing, and spending time with people who are good for us helps to strengthen our own core beliefs.
Taking control over our lives and working intentionally towards our goals builds confidence which, in turn, builds up our resilience to handle life stresses. When we actively get into the driver’s seat and choose where we are headed, we become empowered and begin to feel more capable.
Remember, resilience isn’t about always being strong or trying not to feel weak. It’s owning our truth and believing we are worthy to pick ourselves, and try again. (Shout out to Aaliyah!)
Love Grace x
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Image | Courtesy of Grace Victory