Life can be hard sometimes and there is always something to think about, but for the most part it is a wonderful adventure. I love the universality of sharing this space with so much diversity and difference that it can sometimes feel overwhelming. I am happy that we are able to adapt in such remarkable ways; to adversity, to disability, to environmental changes, all of which allows life to continue for the most part unabated. There is a certain resiliency we possess and I wonder everyday where it derives from.
Resiliency is something that I witness and experience with clients all day long. For me, giving credit and underlining how a client has demonstrated resiliency not only bolsters the therapeutic relationship but goes a long way towards helping the client overcome or synthesize an obstacle or short coming. Resiliency often means coping and the ability to overcome. My clients’ capacity to adapt always evokes a certain amount of pride and admiration, mostly in my heart, for the struggles we all overcome. So, what makes us resilient?
For the most part it is the resolve that we have few favorable alternatives and no choice but to press on and keep living despite sometimes immeasurable loss, change and experience. Some are motivated by a will to keep living for dependents, families, friends, unfulfilled dreams and unfinished business. There are many different motivations to over come. For all of us, some days are harder than others to get out of bed, and most of us cope without being conscious of the struggle. Sharing this observation with my clients has been fruitful and reassuring.
I think resiliency might be part of the human spirit. Within us all is a piece that no matter how desperate, how sad, how dreadful things can be, we still want to cling to life. Life in whatever capacity, for the most part, usually trumps death. Resiliency, we should remember is also part of survivability and evolution. I conceptualize resiliency as perpetual forward momentum, in a physical and emotional sense. Look around – we all face adversity everyday to a greater and lesser degree and as a majority we just keep moving forward. What would happen if every time we faced challenges and difficulties or things did not go the way we planned we just stopped and gave up?
I wonder if perspective might positively affect one’s resiliency. Isn’t there always something that inspires us? Isn’t there always something to live for? These questions are obviously too broad and too deep to answer here, but they might help our clients to ponder. What keeps you and your clients moving forward? A splash of hope, some degree of love, a little support, a sense of belonging, perspective anon… To those who need some inspirational reading just search the internet. There is no shortage of stories of individuals who have surmounted terrible adversity. That deep breath you take when you go into work? That pulled muscle half way through an important race? That half smile when someone makes an unfunny joke? It’s all about persevering, whether we recognize it in the moment or not.
I would like this post to be a tribute to everyone who has been, will be or is being resilient. The next time you overcome, just think about it a little and offer up some mad props to this crazy life, to your own power to cope and to yourself personally for ‘bashing on!’ It’s worth a few moments to acknowledge, because it’s all true, and in the end it is all worth it. Resiliency for me is about living.
And really, what are the alternatives?
Christian Billington is a counselor in training. He is passionate about end of life issues, grief and loss, trauma and the development of training to better prepare the emergency services for what they experience in the field.