Lesson Two: Resilience
Simply put, resilience means being able to overcome difficulties or terrible events in one’s life and to move forward in spite of those things. To be resilient does not mean to forget or diminish the importance of the challenge, but to not let it inhibit one’s chance to grow and transform. We must be able to “bounce back” from life’s difficulties.
In her story, Karina Walters shares an incident in her life that could have sent her spiraling, but she was able to deal with it and make decisions to her benefit. She saw herself as a good tennis player and was actually on a nationally ranked college tennis team. She always saw sports as her outlet and she saw herself as a professional tennis player in the future. Then she injured her wrist and had to accept she couldn’t continue on that course. She could have given up and stayed mired in anger and sorrow, but she did something else. She made another plan for her life in sociology. She was resilient.
In his story, Dr. Pewewardy shares the struggle to move forward in higher education as a professor, as well as the challenges he faced in getting a doctorate; a Ph.D. He actually gets to the point where he thinks about discouraging others from following the same path because it is so difficult. But something inside him overcomes these challenges and he recognizes the greater good that will come from his sacrifices.
Life can be like a canoe trip down a river. We will experience rapids, slow currents, and shallows. We must rely on past experiences to help us navigate these difficult places. We must be guided by a plan; that we feel we have control over the journey. We need to stay the course and have trust in our own abilities. We must have companions that help us through those difficult stretches. And lastly, we can pull ashore and rest at times, but we must put our canoe back in the river to complete the journey.
Let’s look at the factors that can lead to being more resilient (exerpted and paraphrased from the American Psychological Association website):
- • Make connections. Build good relationships with friends and family and accept help from those who care about us. Help others in their times of need
- • Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems. Look to the future and see positive outcomes.
- • Accept change as a part of living. Life is change, and we can adapt and accept. “Grant me the courage to change the things I can change, the serenity to accept those I cannot, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
- • Move toward your goals. Set realistic goals and look for small accomplishments
- • Take decisive actions. Take control and act.
- • Look for opportunities for self-discovery. Look at what you have learned or gained from the experience.
- • Nurture a positive view of yourself. Trust your instincts and ability to solve problems.
- • Keep things in perspective. Avoid blowing things out of proportion.
- • Maintain a hopeful outlook. Expect good things will happen; be optimistic. Try visualizing what you want instead of focusing on fear.
- • Take care of yourself. Do things that you enjoy or relax your mind and body.
Do you see any of the above listed resiliency factors in Karina’s story?
How many of the resiliency factors can you identify in your own life? Do you feel you can withstand a crisis with these factors in place?
What areas do you feel you need to build up or strengthen to be able to handle a crisis?
Do you think these factors are only relevant for individuals or could they be helpful to families, communities, or tribes? Please explain.