6 Ways to Build Resilience
by: Claudia Fletcher, M.Ed.
My husband Bart and I are the adoptive parents of twelve children who are now ages 18-30. Back in the day we had no idea how deep into ourselves we were going to have to reach to find the strength we would need. Back then we had no idea what an attachment disorder was, or ODD. We may have known the letters or heard the concepts, but we certainly didn’t know what it felt like to parent a child with those issues. We didn’t know anything about the juvenile justice system, or residential treatment, or teenage pregnancy, or homelessness. We thought we did, but we were clueless.
But over the years we learned to be resilient, which is the key to being a good parent. In fact resiliency is what allows us to make it in life, even when the hard times come.
In fact, Webster defines resilience as simply “an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.”
Here are six things you can do to build resiliency.
1) Remember, this is a season. “And it came to pass” are some of the most encouraging words in the whole Bible because they remind us that whatever we are going through, or feeling, or experiencing, isn’t going to last forever. There will be brighter days.
2) Remember the times in the past that have been difficult, but you made it through them. People are surprised by my lack of anxiety over the bad things that could happen to our children, and say they wish they could be that calm. I chuckle and tell them that the only way to get to this point is to have already survived almost every bad thing that could possibly happen. With very few exceptions, we have survived nearly everything that parents could confront and we are still standing.
3) Look for one moment of joy each day. This is one of my survival tips in my book “Okay, Which One of You Took my Sanity”, but it really works. I look for something good each day, and almost every night I can look back and find it. As I’m falling asleep, I tell myself I definitely want to get up in the morning and find out what tomorrow’s moment of joy will be.
4) Count the days, or the hours, or the minutes. I know this sounds crazy, but sometimes it helps to count the time until something is over. I remember when nine of our kids were teenagers at the same time (I know, not good planning); I would literally count the minutes until it was time for them to leave for school in the morning. It may sound pathetic, but the reality is the counting can remind us of point one above — remembering that this is a season. I counted my way through an MRI recently, and it was the only thing that kept my sanity.
5). Spend time with, and hang out with, resilient people. Find people in your life who know how to get through tough times, then hang on tight to their hope when you have none. Have coffee with them, email them, call them, FaceTime them, SnapChat them, Facebook message them…. however you can be ‘around’ them, be around them.
6). Read positive literature. Scripture works. So do self-help books and novels that have feel good endings. Anything that makes you feel better when you put it down, put that in your brain. It can distract and sustain you.
Try implementing the above hints to increase your resiliency so you can be ready the next time a tough season comes your way. Then when it does, try implementing the above hints again to get through that hard time. It’s that cycle that builds resilient people. The encouraging thing is this: each time around that circle, you’ll find yourself being more resilient. Pay attention and you’ll realize it’s true.
Let us know in the comments below what has helped you to build resiliency, or how the suggestions provided may have inspired you!