nancy williams

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Archive for October, 2009

Resiliency: Key to Managing Life

The ability to spring back into shape after being stretched. To bounce back after a set back. To get back into the game after being knocked down. To hang in there and not give up when the going gets tough. To press on through challenges. Flexibility. Adaptability. Buoyancy. Elasticity. Stick-to-it-ness.

Resiliency is a trait found in rubber bands, a good mattress, nerf toys, sponges, bungee cords, elastic and many objects we have in our homes. Resiliency is also a character trait that’s helping many people cope with life’s challenges. We may not be able to control some events that come into our lives, but we always have a choice about the attitude we will choose to embrace as we determine if and how we will weather the storms. Those people who choose an attitude of determination and hopefulness demonstrate the resiliency that helps them pick themselves up when they’ve been knocked down and press on through the tough times. You know them. I know them. Hopefully, we, too, are learning how to cultivate a spirit of resiliency in our own lives in these challenging times.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and I don’t know a group of people who have a greater challenge and opportunity to draw on a spirit of resiliency then the cancer survivors I’m privileged to know. They are my friends, members, clients and colleagues. They wake up each day with the opportunity to choose how they’ll deal with the challenges that cancer brings, and I see in them the essence of resiliency.

Adaptability, flexibility, buoyancy, elasticity and determination coupled with hopefulness and even a sense of humor prompts them to press on and get to the other side of the disease that has come into their lives. They have the capacity to survive and thrive despite stressful circumstances. Oh, they know they’re dealing with a painful, challenging, uncertain time they didn’t ask for, yet they choose to focus on what they can do rather than what has happened to them. They are fighters and survivors, not victims; and we can learn much from the spirit of resiliency that fuels them. If we let their lives speak to us, we would hear these messages.

• Understand that your attitude is a choice. Things that happen are neither good nor bad, they’re neutral. How you define them will determine much about how you move through them. You can choose to find the opportunity and hold hope or face life with despair.

• Don’t waste time trying to change what you can’t. Instead, learn to manage what you do have within your control to the best of your ability.

• Be honest about what you’re feeling and find healthy outlets to work through those feelings. Conversations with friends or family members, journaling and counseling can provide confidential, safe places to work through your emotions.

• Keep yourself healthy. Watch your diet. Get adequate rest. Exercise. Avoid energy drainers and focus on those things that will build you up both physically and emotionally. Set boundaries as needed to adequately take care of your needs.

• Learn to manage your stress. Try exercise, music, aromatherapy, massage, prayer, laughter or perhaps a hobby.

• Surround yourself with a positive support system and nurture those relationships. Limit the time you spend with negative people who tend to pull you down. Allow others to assist you in getting back on your feet.

• Cultivate a sense of humor and look for opportunities to laugh.

• Think “outside the box” and find creative ways to solve problems. Explore options and press on until you find the solutions needed to conquer the obstacles in your way to recovery.

• Set short term as well as longer term goals that will stretch you but that are also attainable. Keep up with your progress. Celebrate your successes and learn from your defeats.

• Hold onto your faith.

• Believe in yourself as you build a spirit of confidence – a “can do” attitude.

• Count your blessings – each day.

• May we cultivate a spirit of resiliency and heed the challenge of Winston Churchill as we face life’s difficulties and, “Never, never, never, never give up.”