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Becoming Resilient

My friend and colleague, Annis Cassells, wrote this piece for the Coos Bay (Oregon) Downtown Health & Fitness newsletter. She was kind enough to also share it here with us.

It was a tough year, 2010.  As a people and a nation, we faced many challenges — unemployment, rising costs, health issues, and shrinking incomes, to name a few.  No one is immune from adversity. We all get our turn, sometimes several over the years.   But, heightening our resilience can help us shake off some of the negative feelings and begin bouncing back as we approach 2011.

My friend and colleague, Bobbi Emel, is a great example of resilience.  A care-giver immersed in grief after the lengthy illness and death of her partner, Bobbi listened to herself with her heart and head; then, decided to make some changes.  She moved to another town, became involved in renovating her new home, joined a grief group, and began trying out a variety of jobs.  Bobbi’s journey wasn’t an easy or quick one, but she came through it flexing her resiliency muscles and has made a new life for herself, helping others.  For more inspiring stories of resilience, click on the BLOG button on Bobbi’s website, Bounce, at www.bobbiemel.com.

Dr. Al Siebert, PhD., author of The Resiliency Advantage said, “Resilience is the process of successfully adapting to difficult or challenging life experiences.  Resilient people overcome adversity, bounce back from setbacks, and can thrive under extreme, on-going pressure without acting in dysfunctional or harmful ways.”

Developing resilience demands active participation.   In his book, A Setback is a Setup for a Comeback, Willie Jolley says that the key is to view each setback as an opportunity to learn and grow.  We decide to make changes based on what we’ve learned, and we survive and thrive.

We may need to alter our thinking by

  • Believing that there is something we can do to manage our feelings and cope with the situation
  • Seeing ourselves as survivors, rather than victims
  • Accepting circumstances that cannot be changed
  • Realizing that we need to let loved ones know what’s going on with us
  • Finding positive meaning in the traumatic events that have occurred (aka “the gift”)

We may need to get busy

  • Developing problem-solving skills
  • Seeking help and helping others
  • Re-connecting with family and friends for social support
  • Taking care of our minds and bodies
  • Paying attention to our emotional, spiritual and physical needs

Let us look forward to 2011 as an opportunity to show ourselves and the world how we’re bouncing back. “Resilience is accepting your 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.” Elizabeth Edwards.

Copyright © 2011 Annis Cassells.  All rights reserved.  A life coach and speaker, Annis can be reached at her website: http://www.connectionsandconversations.com or at 661-619-3359.

Bobbi Emel is a therapist who helps people in Los Altos, Palo Alto, Mountain View and the greater Bay Area manage their stress and develop their strengths.
She is effective in helping people dealing with anxiety, worry and grief; and also those who want to improve their effectiveness and performance.