I remember being told that I was resilient. I knew I was receiving a compliment but I didn’t feel anything except exhaustion.

As I think about this, I suppose I felt exhausted because I was coming out of a long and painful transition. I had been successful in the eyes of others but I had to think about resilience for a while before I could agree and find strength and pride in this.

The simple definition of resilience is the capacity to recover quickly or bounce back from difficulties but there’s much more to it than this. I believe resilience implies recovery from trauma or loss, learning from the events and the losses and then changing for the better.

An article in Psychology Today says, “Resilience may be an art, the ultimate art of living, but it has recently been subjected to the scrutiny of science. This much is known so far. At the heart of resilience is a belief in oneself—yet also a belief in something larger than oneself.”

I experienced this as I moved through a divorce and recovery at the same time. I was recovering, not only from addiction but from the loss of a 28-year marriage and all that goes with this type of loss. I also realized that bouncing back and returning to the status quo wasn’t an option either. That would have condemned me to a life of depression and “victim-hood” so I had to intentionally dive into learning the art of resilience.

I found an article titled, The 7 Key Skills of Resilient People, and I see that I already had some of the qualities necessary for resilience. The others I had to either learn or enhance with practice. The author lists the skills as:

  • Resilient people are autonomous. …
  • Resilient people have a realistic awareness of self. …
  • Resilient people are adaptable. …
  • Resilient people are optimistic. …
  • Resilient people are pragmatic. …
  • Resilient people are socially connected. …
  • Resilient people demonstrate self-compassion.

I have always been a pragmatic and adaptable person, able to grow where planted, but I had to learn that I couldn’t control other people’s behaviors and needed to focus on changing my own. Optimism has always been easy for me except when suffering from clinical depressions, so self-care was critical. I had to learn to be self-compassionate – beating myself up and expecting perfection were defaults for me so more self-care, mindfulness practices and therapy were required. Social connection was difficult for me but I learned that it wasn’t impossible and, in fact, was necessary and fun – go figure! I had to make the effort. I learned and worked my way into being able to recognize and honor my resilience today.

If you have experienced a loss or are in recovery and doubt your ability to move forward and worry about your capacity for resilience, contact me. I would be honored to listen, to talk with you and to share my experience and perspective.


“Life doesn’t get easier or more forgiving, we get stronger and more resilient.”

~ Steve Maraboli

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