Resilience is defined as an ability to flexibly adapt to challenging, adverse, or traumatic life events. This ability to “bounce back” from traumatic events is deeply connected to having the opportunity to work through difficult life experiences. Resilience is not a trait that you either have or do not have; it is a set of strategies that can be learned and practiced.
Resilience is both a process and an outcome that involves practices that help you to build a sense of strength and self-confidence. The deep, inner work of healing from trauma eventually allows you to emerge back into the world with your gifts—your unique contributions to the world. You might feel a yearning or longing to fulfill your potential by expressing more of your heart, sharing the knowledge you have gained, and bringing your gifts out to the world.
As a process, resilience involves engaging in behaviors that support your wellbeing each and every day. For example, you might go to therapy, learn to meditate, write in a journal, take daily walks in nature, or develop a creative practice. You have an opportunity to realize that feeling and expressing painful emotions is part of a path of self-discovery.
Being resilient does not mean that you won’t experience difficulty. Rather, it means that you can cultivate the skills needed to respond effectively to difficult experiences. You learn to break down overwhelming experiences into smaller, more accessible chunks, which allows you to gradually process painful events. You learn to attend to difficult life events of your past without allowing your history to define you. In this way, you expand your lens to focus on possibilities instead of just problems.
Most importantly, you can support your resilience with the belief that your choices and behaviors make a difference in the outcome of your life. This gives you the confidence that you are in charge of actively creating opportunities that allow you to overcome barriers in your life.
One of the most powerful components of a transformational journey into post-traumatic growth is that it allows you to take personal responsibility for the narrative that defines you and your life. By consciously attending to the voice or narrator of your personal story, you can discover whether your story is one of hope and optimism, or if it is a pessimistic story full of disappointment and resignation. You get to write the script. You are allowed to revise your story until you arrive at a satisfactory conclusion, one that supports your growth after trauma. This does not mean that you can change what happened in your past. However, you can work through the pain of your past until you find resolution in the here and now.
The deep, inner work of healing from trauma eventually allows you to emerge back into the world with your gifts. Post-traumatic growth provides an opportunity to shift your focus away from yourself by exploring how you might give back to others and the world. We become more human when we focus on loving another person or serving a cause that is greater than ourselves.