What is Resiliency?
Will I bounce back from this?
Recently, I attended a webinar presented by Julie Larson, LCSW. What does the term resilience mean speaking in health terms? Resiliency is the ability to recover readily from illness, depression, or adversity. Often, people facing cancer diagnoses worry if they’ll be able to bounce back. Resiliency is NOT a genetic trait. We are all born with an innate capacity for developing processes that better help cope with situations that arise in life. Learning to become resilient is just like riding a bike or doing your job. It’s a skill-set that will develop as you grow as a person and as you take the time to learn about yourself.
When active treatment ends, cancer survivors often times feel a mix of emotions. The first wave of emotions are positive (as they should be!) which include a sense of gratitude/appreciation, a deepened relationships with loved ones, desire to set personal goals, and excitement for the future.
But after the initial wave of emotions, the not-so-positive feelings may overwhelm the cancer survivor.
Fear of reoccurrence (the unknown future), spiritual uncertainty, anxiety for not being in active treatment, anger towards the disruption of life, and emotional numbness are all perfectly normal feelings that can arise. Growth comes not from the way of avoidance of these feelings, but instead, the learning to cope with these feelings
Resilient people are not immune to stress and negative emotions. It’s not bad to have negative feelings but more importantly, how those feelings are handled.
What is Your “Personal Brand” of Resilience?
Oftentimes you’re asked, what is it you do that helps you get through your day? What helps you get through treatment? If you’re a parent, then it’s most likely your kids; a family motivates you to fight so you can provide for them. But what do you do to take care of yourself? If asked this, you may say yoga, eating healthy, going to the gym, or meditating. These are all great things. But what about YOU makes you feel great and isn’t part of your everyday routine? Is it going to the local farmers market, people- watching in the mall, or getting into your snuggie with an espresso? Think of it this way…if you begin to worry in the middle of the night, what do you do to take care of yourself (you can’t go to the gym then). Think of the abstract and articulate these tendencies.
You may ask…what common traits of resilient people are.
They can respond to people, they are flexible, empathetic, caring, or they have a great sense of humor. Resiliency can mean being social competent. Resilient people are problem solvers and have a tendency to be help-seeking and seem to like to plan and ask for help from others while having an ability to look positively to the future. Now you may not be all or even any of these traits, but by learning to be more conscious and in the present, you can tune into these traits.
Affirmations (as cheesy as it sounds) can be a way to counter negative inner thoughts. Saying things positively to yourself will reinforce the value of you and help you gain strength. Try them! There are three types of affirmation statements…
- “I am…”(statement about yourself)
- “I can…”(statement about what you are capable of)
- “I will…”(statement about a change that happened)
Takeaways to cultivating your Resiliency
- Be present
- Take everyday successes and celebrate them
- Take advantage of your strengths
- Express gratitude
- Try random acts of kindness
Resilient people find meaning and gain confidence in the most troubling of times. Remember, Resiliency and happiness go hand-in-hand. Happy people are satisfied because they develop resources for living positively.
Triage Cancer is a national, nonprofit organization that provides education and resources to survivors, caregivers, and professionals in the healthcare industry. Visit the site for more resources that can help you and your loved ones today!