How Are You Resilient And What Does It Really Mean?

Self, Health And Wellness


We all have a certain amount of energy that we can access in the course of our lives. This energy, therefore, is precious and needs to be conserved and transformed whenever possible so as to make the best use of it. However, as we all know and have experienced, our lives are filled with challenges and stressors on a daily basis. This is simply a fact of life and therefore must be addressed. If this is not addressed our wellbeing will inevitably be compromised. To adequately address the nature of conservation of our precious energies requires a multidimensional perspective.

To properly embrace resiliency involves three aspects of emotional wellness. These three aspects always have three contexts that we need to consider. First, is the internal and psychological component. Considering the ‘Other’ in the immediate milieu is the second component. The nature of the physical and natural environment in which this all plays out is the third component.

The internal component itself has three aspects: our physical being or our body; our emotional makeup and responses or reactions and the mental or knowledge base and understandings which is the third and perhaps the most significant. The first dimension of resiliency, with consideration of these three components and three aspects, is what I call ‘Coping’. From my experience coping is but the first stage of resiliency whereby a person is confronted with a physical or psychological challenge and draws upon his/her inner resources to muster a survival response. The body, mind, emotion complex and all the resources available are called into play. Coping is our first line of defense in the strategy to be ‘resilient’ in dealing with trauma or a stressful event.

How we cope or rather if we cope will determine whether or not we can adequately adapt, which is what I consider the second stage of the resiliency phenomenon. Adaptation requires more energy and consciousness and is built upon the foundation of our ability to cope. Adaptation requires a ‘center’ or rootedness of being and is psycho-biological/psycho-physiological and bio-ecological in nature. This means that we have ascertained the necessary perspectives to engage in coping and have made the psychological and physiological changes necessary to adjust to the new conditions of our lives.

The most significant and third stage of resiliency is a transformational phenomenon that involves all three centers of being, mind, body, and emotion and embraces, in the process, the Spiritual dimension of the individual. Challenges are experienced as growth opportunities and life lessons. Here, the individual observes, explores, accepts and understands what is required and why in order to internally evolve on the path of creating a meaningful life.

Therefore resiliency is a multidimensional transformational process whereby a configuration of elements, qualities, and co-constructs interact and influence each other to create a positive, balanced and optimal synergy of being. The journey of engaging coping, adapting, and transforming any challenges or trauma in life begins now, if you so choose, and exists each and every time our awareness is focused on these tools of engagement.

The field of ecological psychology is based on the psychodynamic and bio-ecological bridge of connection between human beings and their multidimensional relationship to the ecosystem in which they live. This bridge of connection is constructed from our basic human instincts and our learned directives as to how, each of us, can evolve greater balance and peace within ourselves and greater harmony with all life forms. This is done in order to move gracefully and seamlessly within our psychological and emotional inner world and within the local and global social, political and bioecological worlds. This is no small feat.

To further this meta-view, while remaining connected to our own inner processes of building greater resiliency there are some paradigms or protocols for action that I have found very helpful over the years. The first is to build an ongoing and impartial observer of our own emotions, behaviors, and thoughts. When we create more self-awareness we expand our abilities to see a bigger picture, to broaden our perspectives and thereby impact our perceptions of any reality in a more meaningful way. Mindfulness practices are very supportive of this process.

The second paradigm embraces certain principles in relation to how we socialize and relate to others. It begins with a certain degree of valuation for the dialog regardless of context. This valuation creates, if you will, a ‘sacred space’ which is characterized by a willingness to listen for wisdom with discernment, empathy, and respect and without judgment. It also involves speaking or sharing from the heart of our own experiences while being fully responsible for all our feelings. Also helpful is the constructive use of silence, that is, to be used for reflection, or prayer or even meditation, which is often useful during the group process. Building the impartial observer and seeking meaning in life and relationships are necessary components of a solid foundation for creating greater resiliency.

Creating more stable communities and greater resiliency within communities is a third paradigm. People working in this field might focus on several pillars of concern. Building a sustainable community utilizing ecocentric methods to create a viable economic base while attentive to basic human rights and civil rights and a strong infrastructure that provides support to its members are core elements to this process.

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All the information shared provides simply a meaningful focus and some helpful strategies and processes for building resiliency whatever your life circumstances and professional milieus are. These are all opportunities for expanding awareness and taking greater control over our lives and inevitably offer a greater sense of inner peace as a byproduct.