"We have all been in the same storm but not the same boat."
We are all experiencing this pandemic, but our experiences will all be very different. Some of us would have experienced grief, loss, whether that’s loss of a loved one, loss of a job or finance, the disappointment of not being able to spend Christmas with those we would have wanted too. And now back into another lockdown, we have all lost that sense of normality. Maybe this time has been a real time of loneliness and isolation or for some, perhaps, it has been the busiest time working on the frontline or you are trying to juggle work and home-schooling. 2021 starts off being a time that can feel uncertain and a time when we are having to choose how we respond. One response is to look for ways to develop and build our resilience.
Resilience is used in many ways, and to some extent has become a buzz word. A common definition of resilience is to ‘bounce back’ or ‘spring back’, and whilst this is the case, this can make it sound like it is something which is instant, which yes sometimes, amazingly, it is, but other times it is not. Much of being resilient is the process. Sometimes that process can be painful, or feel uncomfortable, but the process is not just about bouncing back, but it is bouncing forwards, because as we go through the process, we can often change, grow and develop in our character.
Resilience is not something that is fixed but is a life-long journey for us all. Resilience is something which can be learnt in the face of adversity and life experiences, but also in our everyday ordinary lives. Resilience can be fostered and cultivated in our relationships and communities.
Instead of asking the question ‘how much resilience do we have?' We should ask the question ‘how do I build resilience?’
But what does this look like?
A - Acknowledge Emotions
2020 felt like being on a rollercoaster and 2021 has not started much differently. It seems at the moment many emotions can be felt in the short space of time, especially as we sit with the tension of uncertainty, which can feel overwhelming!
An important part of building resilience is recognising and acknowledging these emotions.
Although not always easy, it is important to acknowledge these emotions and thoughts and be honest with ourselves and others around us.
What does this look like practically..?
One way is to journal how you are feeling or the events of the day. There can be real power in writing down how you are feeling, your worries and naming the emotions. If you have never journaled before, why not check out our resource on Top Tips for Journaling. Another way is reaching out to someone you trust, who you know will listen to you, having your 'Go to people' who you can connect with during this time.
B - Building Character
Resilience is as much about the process that we go through. Just like precious metals and diamonds are refined under immense pressure and heat, and just like metals are refined, when we find ourselves being tested or facing trials, we too can grow. Sometimes this process can feel uncomfortable, but resilience is often grown through times when we step outside our comfort zone, where it feels uncomfortable.
When we are stretched, when we embrace the challenge, that is where we can see growth. We might even surprise ourselves! We don’t ignore that these times can be hard and painful and the emotions that are felt with it, but these can also be times for character building and growth.
C- Choosing Hope
Personally, for me as a Christian, Hope is something that I have and hold onto. During the pandemic pictures of rainbows have been put up across the country and globe as a symbol of Hope.
Rainbows have become significant to me throughout the past 6 months, and back in the summer I saw this rainbow, which spoke to me the following message.
When we go through times of trouble or suffering it can feel like the clouds are dark, there had just been a thunderstorm. However as I looked up, there across the clouds was a full rainbow, which to me, as a Christian, represents God’s promises to us. What I loved was that in the middle of the sky was a little bit of blue sky peeping through the clouds, which to me spoke of Hope.
The thing that has stood out to me with both resilience and hope is that it is a choice, a choice that is not always easy, and a choice that takes perseverance and courage. A choice to choose to hope and a choice to keep moving forward, even if that is just taking one small step at a time. I will finish with this wisdom from Martin Luther King "If you can’t fly, then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk, then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward."
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