One day I walked into my hallway to find one of my cats occupying her time by playing with a little lizard. She would pick up the lizard in her mouth, toss it in the air, and bop it with her paw when it landed back on the ground. Mortified, and to my cats’ dismay, I picked up the little tailless lizard gently and brought him outside. A moment later he scampered off as if nothing had ever happened.
“Wow! Now that's a trooper”, I thought to myself. What that little lizard showed me that day was great resilience. He got caught in a tough place, lost part of his tail, and went on with his lizard life.
I would later learn that:
A lizard will drop its tail under extreme stress.
A lizard's tail serves as both a defense mechanism and as a distraction for its predators.
A lizard may be vulnerable and appear awkward while learning to maneuver without its tail.
A lizard tail eventually grows back, although the lizard may be weaker until then as it stores many of its nutrients in its tail.
When we are under extreme stress, we do not lose our tails, but do each have go-to ways in which we behave. We all have certain default actions, reactions, and behaviors which we use to survive a traumatic occurrence. Some of these approaches to survival can be useful in a moment of crisis, however, these very same approaches can sabotage our ability to flourish when things level out to "normal".
The American Psychological Association states that resilience is the process and outcome of successfully adapting to difficult or challenging life experiences, especially through mental, emotional, and behavioral flexibility and adjustment to external and internal demands (https://www.apa.org/).
In more basic terms, resilience is having the ability to recover, learn, and grow following a traumatic or distressing event.
It's our resilience that can tell the difference between how when you want to act a certain way (ie: run for the hills) versus what you have to do (ie: show up in court) and adapts accordingly.
Resilience also plays a role when it comes to changes in our lives. Even successful transitions can at times feel like a loss of what was (ie: new manager, moving, new job). The bigger the transition, the greater the sense of loss. Like the lizard losing its tail, the transition can cause us a little pain as we settle into our new environment.
Being a resilient person has some really positive benefits. Some of those are:
Having greater ambition
Feeling more optimistic
Ability to delay gratification
·Greater life satisfaction
I am willing to bet that right now you are likely wondering if you yourself are resilient. Well, here are 3 traits that resilient people are known to have:
They face the world head-on. When resilient people spend very little time wallowing in self-pity, instead they search for lessons and move on.
They have within them a spell book, a plethora of methods, that they can call upon whenever adversity rears itself. In their book, they have chapters dedicated to physical, emotional, and personal problem-solving skills that are just waiting to be put into action.
They have the ability to do and get through. Resilience can help you to manage your emotions so that you can do what is necessary to get through the situation that you are currently dealing with. It can also help you to recover after any sudden, troubling, and even life-altering events.
Do you have any of these traits? If not, don’t worry. You can learn it. A great number of psychologists consider resilience to be a mindset, similar to being hopeful or being determined, that anyone is capable of accessing through life experience or through coaching. To put it simply, you must fall down before you can learn how to get up. But the learning process will provide you with methods of all shapes and sorts to put in your own spell book for you to use to pick yourself up off the ground if you fall again. As a bonus chapter, you may add in a bit of self-confidence that you picked up along the way.
Here are 3 things you can do today to become more resilient:
Whatever happens, do the next best thing
Keep a positive outlook
Bask in the imperfection of life (bonus tip from a recovering perfectionist)
Try following the advice of our reptilian friends and bend when presented with hard times, and move forward knowing that if you break, you will come back even stronger! And let me how it goes if you try becoming a bit more resilient today. . . it may make your day better!
Another bonus (today is your lucky day): This is actually a big part of the reason I do what I do. I personally had no idea what I had in me until I was faced with the greatest challenges of my life and either had to fall to my death or learn how to fly. I chose to fly, and in doing so I learned the strength and resilience that are at my core. I now help others by guiding them down the path to their own liberation, taking back the power they have given away, and being able to live the life they desire and deserve with hopefully fewer bumps, bruises, and scars than I have. To Go from a Hot Mess to Got This!