Resilience I

One of my patients recently asked me to talk about resilience. He said, “I know that you have studied this – and can it help when dealing with something chronic like my RA?”

It isn’t about staying the same, but about having the flexibility and determination to keep going – to find the inner reserves that help you get back up when you’ve been knocked down or to the side.

The answer is an emphatic yes. Resilience is a state – not a trait. It can be cultivated and increased, and is a vital part of how you can deal with the daily struggles of limitation and pain that come with chronic illness.

In this article I’m going to describe some of what resilience is, and then in subsequent articles give some specific tips and pointers that can help you build your resilience reserves.

What do you think of when you hear the word resilience? People have told me they think of strength, getting back up, perseverance, and springing back. All of those are part of the word that comes from the French word, “salière” which means to bounce.

It isn’t about staying the same, but about having the flexibility and determination to keep going – to find the inner reserves that help you get back up when you’ve been knocked down or to the side.

That sounds like something we can all use – but especially when you cope with the demands of illness.

How resilient do you think you are? We can use up our resilience, but we can also build it up by our attitudes, practices and habits, and choices. I’ll be writing more about that in the coming weeks.

For today, just think about an area where you would like to be more resilient. Where would you like to have more bounce? In what areas of your life are you already resilient? Think of a time when you know you were resilient. Remember how you felt, what actions you took that demonstrated your resilience, and what you believed. All of these combine to make your own brand of bounce back energy.

In the weeks to come, you can develop more.

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