Reading Surviving Survival: The Art and Science of Resilience reminded me of times in my life when I’vewalked through the fire. Times when I’ve looked back and been awestruck I somehow came out on the other side of tragedy. I should mention that what I’ve gone through pales in comparison to the shark attack, the bear mauling, the Holocaust accounts, among other horrific events portrayed in the book.
Even still, the insights I’m about to share (in two parts) have scooped me up out of myself on more than one occasion. I was engrossed in Surviving Survival and many of the coping techniques rang familiar. I’ve employed them. The chicken and egg conundrum asks whether I read about these strategies at some point and subconsciously put them to practice or if some of what I’m about to share kicked in naturally.
Are some of us just more naturally resilient?
I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure I’m going for a medal in resiliency?
Because I’ve benefitted from the strategies identified in Surviving Survival, I’m excited to pass them on.
If you’ve endured a devastating life change and are struggling to move on with life (or you know someone in this situation), here are a few steps to take…
Sublimation—do something to channel your energy and anxiety
(I write novels. I paint. I run. I refurbish furniture. I create whatever, whenever.)
Altruism—doing something for someone else
(I was flooded with love and meals and kindness at a time of great loss in my life. I still swear to this day the only thing that pulled me out of this time of grief was finding someone else to shower with love and kindness and meals. Passing it on saved me.)
Suppression—not thinking about the trauma, distracting yourself from it
(This one is the most difficult for me. I’m a dweller. But running does wonders. Running and nature are great distracters from rough goings.)
Anticipation—seeing the future clearly and preparing for it
(I draft lists. I bounce ideas off trusted friends. I refuse to sit in the mire of my undoing. I act upon my dreams.)
Humor—Laugh at yourself (and the misfortune) to help heal
(Hands down my favorite coping technique. I must get a double dose of endorphin release when I crack up. I’m often caught laughing at myself while grocery shopping or driving in my car. I talk to myself in public too. All in the name of survival.)
Throughout Surviving, Gonzales depicts additional ways people overcame their difficult circumstances. Among them are: Focusing on positive emotions, exuding gratitude, finding something to laugh at, exercise, eating well and staying healthy, staying socially connected, and finally, “Above all, avoid self-pity.”
Gonzales quotes Tolstoy, “Ah, if only you might learn, through suffering, to believe that the only possible happiness—true, eternal, elevated—is achieved through these three things: Work, self-denial, and love.”
Truth is, we’ll all face a hardship that will threaten to sink us at some point in our lives. It’s not whether or not it will happen, it’s how we’ll choose to deal with it when it does.
What fascinates you about resiliency? Anything I shared today surprise you?
*photo by stock.XCHNG
**I’ve been having a blast featuring books written by some dear author friends of mine. This week I encourage you to check out Heather Sunseri’s Young Adult debut, Mindspeak!