When you hear the word resilience you might think of it as bouncing back to where you were before a loss or other devastating event. It’s not. Resilience isn’t about rebounding. It’s not about powering through the latest challenge. Resilience isn’t even about coping.
Resilience is the capacity to be flexible during times of stress—flexible in your thoughts, your emotions and your behaviors. Resilience is what enables you to move forward, in both basic and big ways, when everything around you is falling apart or you’ve been doing too much, for too long, with too little.
When your flexibility is diminished, you may experience things like reduced confidence, an inability to access positive emotions (even though you recognize there’s something to feel good about), trouble making decisions and a decreased desire to be around or interact with other people.
Building (or rebuilding) your resilience requires learning a new skill set and a deliberate focus on what matters most to you: your values. It requires consciously organizing your time, energy and resources around those values to support more functional and productive living that goes beyond stress and time management.
How resilient you are at a given time is the product of how you’ve been managing your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual energy (and how you manage your energy will vary, often on a daily basis). If you haven’t cultivated a practice that shores up your energy reserves, your daily output will exceed your input, making you vulnerable to exhaustion and burnout.
I’ve been there. You might be there, now.
If you’re feeling depleted, there’s good news: whatever your personal level of resilience is right now? It’s not a constant. We can all commit to renewing our energy at any time. We can experiment with techniques to help us recover equilibrium, dialogue with our physical bodies to understand where we hold stress, and start to identify and deconstruct the patterns and behaviors that hold us back (yes, I have them, too).
We do this first, by being curious and compassionate. Then, we roll up our sleeves, prepare to sweat a little (or in some cases a lot) and do the work.