Resilience is the ability to deal with high levels of disruption, difficulty, or challenge while maintaining or regaining a sense of well-being. Although there is a lot of emphasis on the topic these days, I believe that many people don’t feel resilient a lot of the time. I’ve had several conversations recently where individuals told me that they don’t see themselves as resilient, or that their resilience has been depleted by tough circumstances. The thing that concerns me the most here is that they often seem to judge themselves for this, as though there is something wrong with not feeling resilient. Here are a few thoughts I’d like to share with you if you sometimes feel this way:

  1. Resilience comes and goes. It’s tempting to put people into two categories: “Resilient” and “Not Resilient.” But it’s wrong. Each of us sometimes deals well with the difficulties we face, and sometimes gets overwhelmed and drained. It depends on a lot of things: the nature of the challenge, the resources and support we have available to us, the strength of our energy supply, and much more.
  2. Resilience depends on energy. The challenges you are facing take physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual energy. If your energy is significantly depleted because of health issues, long-term challenges that continue to drain your emotional well-being, or other demands that are placed on you, it will be much more difficult for you to face a new challenge than it would be if you had a full supply of energy.
  3. “Bouncing back” isn’t the point. We hear people talk a lot about “bouncing back” from difficulties, as though we could return to the way we were before. Although this sometimes happens, major challenges often change us in permanent ways, and sometimes the best we can do is to hang on by our teeth and fingernails and get to the other side. That counts as resilience too.

If you’re not feeling resilient right now, that’s not only OK, it’s perfectly normal. Do what you can to replenish your energy and care for yourself. If you feel like you can do so, ask for support from people who care about you: friends, family, health-care professionals, clergy, etc. And most of all, don’t judge yourself. Recognize that you are a survivor and that every little step you take has the potential to move you to a better place. Start right now by taking a deep breath, sitting or standing up straight, and seeing if you can find something to appreciate in the world around you.