Resilience is Misunderstood

What do you think of when you think of resilience?  My first impression was always a person that was tough, could handle anything, bold, stoic, and always comes out winning.  What I learned of this idea is that it is overly simplistic and doesn’t capture the true complexity of what makes a person resilient.


Don’t get me wrong – resilience is a HUGE aspect of getting through life.  It is a quality that all of us must utilize to truly learn and grow from pain and experience.  But, resilience alone will not lead to true healing.


Let me explain.


The definition of resilience as it is listed in Merriam Webster Dictionary explains it as:

: the capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress
: an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change


I am a big fan of “fake it ’til you make it”.  In fact, I spent most of my early adult years living a purely compartmental life.  If it did not suit me to address a feeling or emotion, I could easily set it aside and place it in one of my boxes for future reference.  If…I ever got around to cleaning out my boxes.



Below are three things that can help you to take your resilience to another level so you get the outcome you are looking for in the first place!


  • While you are in the moment of struggle, the ability to remain calm and keep your body able to cope with the ensuing stress may be the best goal.  Your mind is focused, you are taking in all of the situation’s powerful hits as they are flying at you.  You can’t see them coming.  You are just trying to get through the day.


Do that.  Stay in that day.  Try not to project ahead and begin predicting outcomes.  Your brain cannot tell the difference between imagined tragedy and real.  Whichever one it may be, try not to put your body and mind through it twice by imagining what is coming next.


  • Make a choice.  If it’s one thing you have control over, it’s how you choose to react to a circumstance.


For example:  Two brothers.  Same father.  One is a successful, abundantly happy family & career man.  The other is in an abusive relationship, abuses alcohol and drugs, and resents everything in his life.  Same upbringing.  One went one way, the other goes the opposite.  You have a choice.


  • Embrace your inner drama queen.  Shout, cry, hit something, fall apart, or go in a corner and feel sorry for yourself.  It needs to happen.  If we are chronically powering through every single circumstance that stretches us, how will you ever remember what shape you started in?


We tend to get to a point where our threshold for stress tolerance is so high that we fail to recognize the ensuing damage it is causing to our physiology & health.


HONORING our pain, our stress, our body in times of trouble is the missing link.  You have to validate yourself that you have every reason to fall apart. It’s how you get back up that matters.  


In some circumstances – you SHOULD feel stressed and if you don’t, then ask yourself why not?  


Today’s society expects people to power through.  Deal with it.


And it’s life.  So guess what?  IT.GOES.ON.


When all of those boxes you have built up begin to overflow, there is no more room for storage of emotions, of sadness, of stories we told ourselves as children.  You have to clear out the compartments to make room for more resilience!



Regardless of how much we think we can hide from pain, guilt, tears, anger – it will resurface.  Putting on the happy face is clever, courageous, and even admirable.  It’s when you pull off that mask, express your true pain and let it melt away with the tears that need to flow it out and away from your body, that is when the magic of healing happens.


When your soul genuinely becomes light & begins to take it’s old shape again.  That is true resilience.

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