The capacity to recover quickly from difficulty is known as resilience, and we hear a lot about it today. Or at least, those of seeking to understand grief and healing do! It’s a cornerstone block in the building of life, and has proven to me, to be a valuable tool that I’ll strive to keep sharpened. Undoubtedly, we will all face adversity in life. But, I’ve recently learned, it’s our ability to find and hone our resilience that determines how we get through that adversity and come out the other side. Or not.
As I came out of the shock phase of my discovery, (which was many months after D-Day), I began looking for tools to feel better. Showering and meditation helped, but only momentarily. I needed more sustained reprieves from my grief. It was about that time, two friends sent me the then new book, OptionB by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant. It’s a beautiful, candid story about love and loss, hope and healing. In it, the authors speak of the importance of resilience. Working on it daily, building it like a muscle, they said, was key.
“I thought resilience was the capacity to endure pain, so I asked Adam how I could figure out how much I had. He explained that our amount of resilience isn’t fixed, so I should be asking instead how I could become resilient. Resilience is the strength and speed of our response to adversity—and we can build it. It isn’t about having a backbone. It’s about strengthening the muscles around our backbone.”
– Sheryl Sandberg
I devoured the book, reading it like a text book, complete with notes and margins and plenty of highlighting. Ok, I get it. I need to get resilient, and fast.
Thankfully, the authors offer suggestions that I immediately instated into my daily practice. It was one in particular, that made a huge difference for me:
At bedtime, write down 3 things you did well that day.
For me, this started out teeny tiny, I struggled to identify 3, and my list looked like this:
“Got out of bed”, “Brushed my teeth”, “Packed school lunches”.
But I stuck with it, and night after night, I noticed the list was growing. I had 5 things, then 7, then 10 things that I could list that I didn’t just DO, but DID WELL. A year after beginning this practice, I saw just how far I had come.
“Ran 3 miles”, “Folded and PUT AWAY 3 loads of laundry”, “Booked flight for family trip”.
I wasn’t just taking baby steps back into reality, I was now living in the moment and able to dream (albeit just a little) about my future.
This exercise provided me with a way to build my resilience muscle. All in a 1-minute mental exercise, laying in my pajamas. (If only my abs could be built that way!)
Over time, it’s precisely that resilience that teaches us so much about who we are. It shows us our capacity to love, our determination to heal, and the inspiring human ability to find joy after heartbreak.
If you would have asked me about my own resilience 3 years ago, I would have shrugged not knowing.
Today, I own it, embrace it, and celebrate it. I have worked so hard to learn about my particular kind of grief and take control of my healing. Along the way, I’ve met my own resilience, an unexpected part of me that I’m so glad I’ve gotten to know.
Check out my own 7 ReRooting Tools,