Become More Resilient

Wow 2020. You’re a lot to handle. As our community navigates the collective experiences of this year and grows weary, some experts say it’s time to take stock, gather ourselves, and dig deep. Human beings are resilient and you’re probably capable of more than you think.

Want to know what’s best about resiliency?  Everyone is capable of it and we can learn how to become more resilient.

Recognize Strengths

No matter how badly you’ve been wounded, you still have your strengths. Use those strengths, and build around them, to work your way to transcendence.

  • How do you find strengths despite perceived failures?  Make a list of them. Think back on every success you’ve had. You might need a friend or a counselor to help you do this because you may be seeing the past through a lens of discouragement. Then discuss with that person how you can apply your strengths to the current trauma or condition you’re facing.
  • To succeed at resilience, you must let go of some hopes, dreams, and beliefs, if for only a while. To be open to the new reality of resilience you must be willing to let go of the past.

Go Slow. Take Small Steps.

You have within you what it takes to be resilient, even if you do not believe it right now. Someday you’ll be amazed to have transcended and moved beyond.

In the beginning you need to just keep doing the next thing. Take that next step toward resiliency even before you come to believe you have what is required.

  • How can one rise up after being beaten down?  You begin by breaking down what you must do, even if you think you cannot, into the smallest possible steps. Working with a counselor or a friend, break the steps down until they are do-able. For instance, if you suspect that some medication could help, the smallest next step might be to get the phone number to call to find out about a medication evaluation. The next step is to make the call. The third step is to go to the appointment, and so on. After a while there will be a momentum that builds from each step succeeding.
  • What does transcendence look like?  Transcendence is becoming functional despite having experienced the traumatic condition. It will never be as though the traumatic condition never happened. But, the traumatic condition will cease to hold you back from doing what you must do and what you want to do. You will find opportunities you had not imagined before the traumatic condition.

Take Inventory. Share Your Story.

The process of being resilient, no matter how arduous, teaches lessons that will be helpful in the future. Your lived experience in rising above and beyond the darkest times gives you a wisdom that others who have not had that experience do not yet possess.

  • You should periodically ask yourself what you have learned and list ways it makes you stronger today.
  • You should learn to “tell your story” so that it inspires others and you can enjoy the way that makes you feel.

Inspire Others. Repeat Often.

Even after you have been successful in your achievement of resiliency you will have to buoy it up at times. In times of stress in the future you will regress a bit from your resiliency, and you must remember how you achieved it before, then use those tools again. It may take only a few moments or few weeks, but you will regain your resilience.

  • The telling of your story that inspires others can be used to re-inspire yourself. In times where you have regressed, tell yourself the story of your resilience in the past.
  • Pull out that list you compiled of what your strengths are and review how you can apply them to this time of discouragement.
  • Learn to be mindful: take a step back and observe yourself and think carefully about what your current options are. Imagine making the kinds of decisions you made in your times of highest functioning after achieving resilience and choose to do those same things even in this time of discouragement.

Editor’s note: How are you feeling?

According to the Washington State Department of Health, many of us are experiencing some anxiety and depression. Now that days are getting darker, those feelings can be more intense. We reached out to Navos (owned by Multicare), a behavioral health facility here in Burien. They provided some tips for ways to reduce anxiety and build resilience.

The City of Burien and Navos have partnered for several decades to provide behavioral health services to our neighbors experiencing mental health and substance use disorder issues. With two locations in Burien (including the former Ruth Dykeman Children’s Center campus on Lake Burien), Navos provides crucial outpatient treatment services and supports for children, youth, and adults of all ages, as well as supported housing and residential treatment.

David M. Johnson, Ed.D
MultiCare Behavioral Health Foundation Board Member and Retired CEO of Navos at 
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