Dedicated to my mother, Aleyamma Eapen.
I started thinking about writing on this topic as my mother passed away last week.

According to ‘Merriam-Webster’, ‘resilience‘ can be defined as the ability to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens.

Everyone inevitably goes through difficult personal scenarios at some point in life. These may include passing away of or losing dear ones, losing  jobs or security, personal relationships, illness or disease and unforeseen disappointments. They may also  result in instances where one questions and tries to find the meaning of one’s existence and life.  A whole host of issues and challenges seem to emerge in these situations. Sometimes, people around can act in ways that could be surprising, confusing and disappointing. One may encounter loneliness, lack of social support and various other social and personal challenges.

How can we build personal resilience?

Most times, we go along happily with our lives until one of these scenarios hits us badly and takes us by surprise. Even though we may not be able to prevent some things from happening, it helps to be aware and also respectful of others going through similar stages in life. A bit of empathy and support can go a long way and also helps with the recovery process for the person involved.

Every individual has her or his own way of coping with challenges, pain and finding the way back. Solutions may be unique and relevant to one’s own preferences. That said, it does help to learn and understand tried and tested methods of finding a way back to normalcy.  In tough times, it is not easy to think with a clear head.

I wanted to share few actions that I found helpful. If you have experienced some of these, please do share for the benefit of others around. There may be more people around than you think, working through life challenges.

  1. When everything around seems to whirl out of control, it helps to find one’s space of calm and peaceful reflection through prayers, meditation, breathing exercises and focus on one’s core belief systems. Having a spiritual belief system helped me find meaning and peace in difficulty. It’s still important to acknowledge that there will be an up and down process.
  2. For those going through the loss of a dear one, allowing for grieving time and finding the path towards acceptance is an important process with varying timelines. Understanding the stages of loss and grief, and allowing oneself adequate time to progress through these stages is important. Being compassionate and forgiving to oneself during the recovery process is also valuable.
  3. Focusing on the positives helps shift the mind to a healthier direction. A lot of thoughts go through one’s head during difficult times and it is easy to get stuck in a negative pool. If one can be conscious of this and find few things to be grateful and thankful for (redefine the “bad” in terms of potential “goods”), in spite of the difficulties, they help make a difference. The mindset can be important. Research from Carol Dweck of Stanford emphasizes the importance of having a growth mindset, rather than a fixed mindset.
  4. Having a helpful social support group, in the form of close friends, relatives, colleagues, professionals or individuals with a high emotional and spiritual quotient can make a huge difference. It helps for the closest support group to be available and present, sometimes just to be present with a listening ear or a hug (even virtually).
  5. Getting some momentum towards core areas of interest and meaningful impact is helpful.  It helps to move forward with a purpose, even in baby steps, whatever engages one’s mind with positive action. For me currently, focusing on completing this blog post, working with a friend on transitioning to a new blog page, helped to take my mind off difficult thoughts and focus on something meaningful for me.

These notes of course do not replace the need for professional support when needed and it is important to recognize when one feels the need, and act accordingly.

If we can reflect, learn and find our meaning from difficult life scenarios, we can grow stronger mentally, wiser, more compassionate towards ourselves and others in difficult environments.

Personal resilience is extremely important during difficult times.

How can you help build personal resilience and help individuals around you?

Life is precious. It helps to count our blessings and make a meaningful difference.  Wish you the best.

I also take this opportunity to thank the beautiful, generous souls near and far who have and are supporting me through difficult times. Thank you very much….

Suggested additional reading:
Life After Loss: Conquering Grief and Finding Hope by Raymond Moody and Dianne Arcangel (Book)

Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire. – Schindler’s List