Resilience is all about being able to overcome the unexpected. Sustainability is all about survival. The goal of resilience is to thrive. ~ J. Cascio

Resilience has been a buzz word for many years but I really want to sit down with you today and talk about how it applies to you in the here and now.

Up until fairly recently any and all discussion about resilience was pretty much limited to at-risk children, trauma survivors and veterans. We didn’t talk about building up those who are living in extreme poverty, busy parents or those who are older than 40. Except here’s the thing ~ everyone needs to learn how to shore up their coping skills and get themselves into the best possible mental health shape they can be in. I know of no one, regardless of age or income or race, who hasn’t faced the unexpected and tough bumps that life has the habit of putting in our paths at some point.

Many of the suggestions we put out there for targeted groups are the same ones we can use ourselves, even if we’re not veterans or trauma survivors. What am I talking about?

One of the most solid recommendations for all is to have social supports. Have meals with friends, family or even strangers. There are many restaurants which are now keeping one table open as a community table where anyone who is alone can sit and eat with others. Sound a bit intimidating? Maybe but that’s actually a good thing because we also know that pushing past our natural comfort zones is good for building our capacity to manage adversity.

The next two might sound a bit odd but it’s interesting how they work. Practice being optimistic and smile more. What’s that about? Optimism can actually be learned. Yes, some of it is part of our genetic code but some of it is learned and like any other skill, the more we practice it the easier it gets. A good friend of mine is amazing in this department. She can find the silver lining in nearly everything and does so with a smile and laugh. What’s the smile about? Smiling more changes the chemistry of the brain. Better chemistry in the brain, better your ability to mentally bounce.

If you can try not to take things too personally. This one is hard but it is important remember that most things are not directed at us but rather we get caught in other people’s dramas or situations. In the oddly wise words of a former colleague, “sh*t rolls downhill Lisa; step aside.” Another great one to keep it in perspective is, “Not my monkeys, not my circus.”

Take time and energy to be present for others. In supporting others we are in turn building our own resilience as well as strengthening the bonds of our relationships. Sometimes it is hard to know what will help or we feel like we don’t want to intrude. You can still be supportive. Send cards or shoot out a text message that just says, “Thinking of you.” Show up at the house with basic groceries or a meal. Is someone sitting vigil at the hospital? Just go and tell them, “I’m in the lobby for the next hour; come down if you want a hug or need to cry.” When someone is in a tough place they don’t want to, nor can they, really make decisions; limit the choices, “I’m at Slave to the Grind, do you want hot cocoa, tea or coffee? I’m bringing it to you.” Maybe they’ll drink it, maybe they won’t but I promise, they won’t forget the feeling of you being there for them.

Want some extra support? I’m right here just for that purpose. Give a shout out, get on my calendar and let’s see where you can go when you have all the energy you need!

As you build those resilience muscles I wish you the best for your week!

~ Lisa