“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Have you ever been lost? I mean really lost – out in the middle of nowhere with no cell phone, no map, no GPS, and no service station or farm-house where you can stop and ask directions? Have you ever felt that sense of sheer panic and helplessness?
Imagine… the wave of nausea that hits you like a wall of bricks when you realize you have no idea where you are. You have no one with you, you can see no recognizable landmarks, and the more you try to find your way, the more you realize that you keep ending up in a place that looks exactly like where you were 2 hours ago. Can you feel it? The anxiety? The heart inside of you beating its way out of your chest – the sweat as it beads on your forehead – the tightening of your stomach as you sit at the crossroads, searching furtively from unmarked country road to unmarked country road, trying to figure out which way to turn?
That is what it is like to have no resiliency.
Resiliency. The ability to bounce back. The Psychology Foundation of Canada identifies four key components that together create resiliency:
1. Feeling like you belong – having a support system,
2. Being able to deal effectively with one’s emotions,
3. Having good problem-solving skills and feeling like you have control in your life, and
4. Having a positive, optimistic attitude.
Imagine again, that you are back in the above situation – desperately lost, in the middle of nowhere, wondering where to turn. Now imagine that someone you love, trust, and depend on is in the vehicle with you. S/he is bending over a map of the county, trying to figure out where you are. How does it feel now? Do you feel safer? Would you be able to manage your anxiety better? Now imagine that your friend or family member has a smart phone with a built in GPS. Even if there is no signal in this no-man’s land where you are now, you know that if you can get someplace where there is a signal, you can get your bearings. Does this help you to feel more reassured? Now, what if in your glove box, there was a compass, so that you could figure out what direction you were headed? Between the map and the compass, and the support of your friend, do you think you might have a better chance of finding your way? I dare say you might!
When you’re on your own, it’s like being without a compass, rudder, or sails out on the open sea. Cloud cover inhibits your ability to even navigate by the stars, and even if you could use the stars to find your way, you have no rudder whereby to steer your vessel. In order to build resiliency, you must have a support system – people you can trust to help you put things in perspective, to help you flex your optimism muscles and cope with the influx of emotions you might experience when under duress.
When the last straw is about to fall, resiliency – your ability to bounce back – will be the difference maker for your outcomes.
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