Resilience can feel like a buzz word. It sounds really good, what does it actually mean? And even harder is figuring out how to achieve it. It’s like the unicorn of well-being or actually achieving the allusive “work-life balance”. Super nice to say and think about, but almost impossible to achieve.
One of the favourite games for my girls, when they were young, was to keep the balloons in the air. You’re running around, eyes darting and trying to prevent any balloons from touching the ground… because if you have had kids you know the floor is lava.
At first it’s going okay, you have a rhythm and you’re able to send the balloons high into the air as you reach for the next. But eventually the balloons get further apart or they hit an obstacle and you become frantic trying to save the balloons from hitting the floor.
This can feel like life sometimes. You’re trucking along feeling good, then one area of life takes an unexpected turn and then another area hits an obstacle and you begin to lose control. Trying to regroup and as the balloons fall to the floor you feel like you have failed at everything.
But the belief that you can somehow create a life that is consistent and balanced is not realistic.
This also feeds into the belief that we can be happy all the time. But this is a myth. There will always be ups and down and to strive to avoid suffering and struggle it isn’t realistic or in my opinion healthy.
God created us to have emotions and it’s not wrong to feel them all. It is not shameful or bad to feel sad, angry, frustrated, grief. These are real emotions and if rejected them we also limit our ability to feeling joy, excitement, and adventure.
Resilience is the ability to bounce back or withstand adversity. It isn’t the absence of struggle or pain. It is the ability to come out of a time of suffering, quicker easier and perhaps with growth.
The 7 Keys to Resilience are practical simple ways that strengthen your resilience.
They build up your ability to face adversity and bounce back quickly. It can be easy to blame the negative circumstance for our suffering and difficulty. But let’s face it life is hard and we will continue to face hardships until we reach heaven. So rather than focusing on avoiding difficulty or minimizing struggle, Focus on strengthening these 7 areas and you will find that the journey through struggle and difficulty is much shorter.
1. KNOW WHO YOU ARE
You are fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps. 139:14) God, created you on purpose and for a purpose. No other human has ever, or will ever have your gifts and talents. Don’t be distracted by negative thoughts. Focus on the truth of who you are. (Eph. 2:10).
There are tons of self reflections and assessments to learn more about your unique gifts talents and abilities. Seek them out to discover who God made you to be.
Research has caught up to what we know as truth from the Bible and confirmed that regular practice of meditation decreases the body’s response to stress and improves resilience. (Joshua 1:8) Practice refocusing your mind and thoughts towards God, by using the many mediation tools available. A popular christian meditation app that I enjoy is focused on scripture is called Abide.
3. STAYING CONNECTED
We are created to be in relationship with each other and with God. (Heb. 10:25; Prov. 27:17) Although it can be tempting to isolate in times of overwhelm, refreshing and freedom from shame comes when we connect with supporters. A beautiful scripture that points to the refreshing nature of relationship is Prov. 16:24 “A kind word brings healing to the soul and healing to the body”
Self-care or soul-care is part of the great commandment to love others as yourself. (Mark 12:31) It doesn’t have to be expensive, time-consuming or self-indulgent. It is simply having compassion towards yourself and being kind. Think about how you would treat a friend and then do or say that to yourself. Self-care is not selfish
Even Jesus would often say “no” to people and “yes” to spending time alone, refuelling with time in prayer (Luke 5:16) When someone asks you to do something, rather stressing about saying “no”, tell people what you are saying yes to. The benefits of establishing clear boundaries will be felt in every area of your life.
Slowing your schedule and having intentional times of rest is not only healthy, but it is also Godly. God was the ultimate role model when He rested on the 7th day of creation. Rest was so important that it became a part of the creation story. Rethink how you use your sabbath and times of rest are you truly refreshed? If not you made to adjust.
7. HAVE FUN
Do something that you enjoy, something that soothes your soul and makes you smile.
It is good to laugh and enjoy life. Find time in your daily, weekly, monthly schedule to engage in something that makes you smile.
To look at changing or improving all 7 of these areas is too much. You will just wear yourself out. In a video about CBT I talked about how a small change in one area impacts others. And this is true for these 7 keys as well.
Pick 1 area, the easiest, not the hardest, and “start where the ground is soft” to get some quick wins and then move onto the next one. You build momentum and by improving one area you are strengthening your resilience in them all.
So when you are facing adversity and overwhelm and those balloons are getting further and further apart take a moment and check in with these 7 areas and start small in building each of the 7 keys of resilience.
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