I’ve often wondered how people become resilient; Being able to bounce back after a blow made Mohammed Ali the champ that he is and always will be. That, and having the strength to mow down any opponent that stood in his way. It leads me to wonder about the amount of strength that has to be within a person for them to be truly resilient in the first place. It could be willpower that guides a resilient person into their ability to cope with a crisis and return to the pre-crisis state so quickly. It could be a sense of survival. Or is it both?
I recently read about gauging resilience by a set of scales. On each side of the scale, there are positive and negative outcomes. If the scales tip towards positive outcomes, then the person has resiliency. Is it really that simple? This would mean for a child to grow into a resilient adult, someone would have to stack their positive-outcomes deck so that each time there is a negative outcome, there is at least one more positive outcome on the other side. Who would be that deck-stacker in the life of a child?
The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University states, “The single most common factor for children who develop resilience is at least one stable and committed relationship with a supportive parent, caregiver, or other adult.” Not that I could ever hold as much authority as a Harvard professor in this area, but somehow, I already knew this. For me, it was my grandparents. I was fortunate that I had a deck-stacker. Lady Luck may not be looking out for other children.
I’m pretty sure this is why I became an educator. I wanted to pass along the gift of positive outcomes to as many children as I could. I wanted to be their champion, getting rid of as many negative outcomes as I could K.O., just like Ali. Through being a mentor to children, I have been able to help my students build key capacities in order to adapt to adverse environments and subsequently thrive, something that was nearly allusive to me in my immediate environment as a child.
I’ve always been a survivor. Survival and resilience may be compatible, but they are not the same thing. Survival is instinctual. Resilience requires guidance and practice so that when a stressor is present, using coping skills that promote stress-reduction practices and extend a system of self-regulation will strengthen physical and mental well-being. Resilience is about building a sense of self-efficacy and perceived control so that we can deal with whatever punches come our way. I’ve found the biggest way for me to do this is by turning over the stressor to my Higher Power so that I can find serenity in my situation.
God grant me the Serenity
To accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And the Wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time.
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is,
Not as I would like it.
Trusting that He will make all things right,
If I surrender to His will.
That I may be reasonably happy in this world
And supremely happy in the next.
As I was growing up in a home where I was physically, emotionally, and sexually abused, where the adults were addicted to substances such as alcohol or drugs, where chaos thrived, I lived in denial. Even when I knew in my mind and in my heart that something was amiss, but wasn’t sure what; that my life was unmanageable, but wasn’t sure why; that one day I would be free but wasn’t sure when, I lived in denial. Even when I had an unrelenting hope that one day, my life would be different, I wouldn’t ever again have to suffer these atrocities, and the hurt would suddenly disappear when I was gone, I lived in denial.
“Hope is the denial of reality.”
My denial was an unconscious process. At first, I recognized inappropriate…
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