I’ve come to realize that, other than loving yourself, the best trait you can have is resilience. Living a happy, joyous life doesn’t mean you’ll never have bad things happen. There’s no way to avoid everything you don’t want in your life. Nor would you want to. The contrast is what makes you clarify what you do want. I do believe, though, that the contrast doesn’t need to be a tsunami that drags you under, threatening to drown you. It can be more like getting knocked down by a big wave. That’s where resilience comes in. Being able to get back up and really look at what just happened and be able to learn and grow from every situation is what is going to make the difference in your life. You start to figure out who you truly are and who you want to be. All the “bad” things that happen in life can build your confidence, if you’re strong enough to look them in the eye, look yourself in the eye, and see them for what they are: an opportunity to grow. The more you do that, the less afraid you’ll be to do it in the future. That’s resilience.
It’s a heady feeling to know you can handle anything that comes your way. Not just survive but thrive. Surviving is actually much easier, at least for a little while. You just keep your head down, suppress everything and keep your life small. Some people can live a lifetime like that and they’re fine with that. I’ve often envied them that. I’ve never been able to be fine with small. I just suppressed everything for so long that I reached the break point. If you really cultivate resilience, there’s a lot more flexibility, and it’s a lot easier to stretch beyond your comfort zone and still know you’re going to be OK. It’s the difference between stretching a rubber band and trying to bend a pencil. The pencil might seem stronger, but only until it breaks. Then it’s much more difficult to return it to its original shape.
I never thought I was that resilient. I knew I was a survivor, but the pressure was still there. They do have aspects in common, but being able to adapt and work through your emotions instead of suppressing them makes a huge difference. My friends and I process emotions really quickly. I’ll have some huge emotional breakdown and then a week later think, was that really only seven days ago? It feels like a year. That quick turnaround is resilience. It doesn’t make everything all sunshine, butterflies and rainbows, but it helps you live there more of the time.
I do remember the days when it took weeks or months to move through emotional issues, and there are still some core issues that I fight with and don’t want to give up, so I’m not completely unsympathetic, but for me, living in that negative energy is excruciating. I’d rather look at the emotion and move through it, no matter how painful it is, than sit with it for months or years. It’s the difference between lancing a wound so it can heal properly or letting it fester under the surface. Neither are pain-free, but allowing the poison out means the healing takes less time in the long run.