I'll be the first to admit it. Sometimes when I look back over my life I am shocked. Maybe shocked isn't the word. Maybe it's because I'm in awe. When I consider the events, the things that have happened to me, the things that I've done, the things that I've seen, the things that people think they know the truth about but they don't and they would be shocked to hear the truth about... I am in awe. In awe not just because I survived but because of where I am. Especially juxtaposed to where I could be. I understand why the question that I receive all the time is the question I receive all the time. That question is usually a very pointed version of, “exactly how did you get through all of that”?
How did you make it out of ooze alley? A place where the police didn’t come alone.
How did you deal with surviving in your neighborhood, in your home and as an adult? Especially since you didn’t realize it by name until you were in training at your job?
How did you overcome the abuses and the trauma?
How did you finish your degree with two kids, fresh off of a GED and your mind swirling in injury?
My short answer is always that I was able to bounce back. I didn't know it then but I understand it now. It doesn’t matter whether I am before crowds of blurred faces in varying spaces or before crowds of 1 as a life coach, that question always lands on my lap.
I pride myself in being able to answer that question now. I'm only able to answer it now because I understand what resilience is and how to cultivate it. For the purposes of our time together let’s establish a working definition. I describe it as the ability to feel the pain, wear the tears, endure the blows but going forward anyway. It is being shoved by the words hurled at you from your past or the slander slung to your face… and doing it anyway. It is making misstep after misstep after misstep but remaining committed to learning the lesson… so you can do it anyway. Resiliency is cultivated and stored; currency to be spent on a rainy day. Cultivating it is half the battle. Learning and retaining those skills is another. Cultivating resilience is an intentional and consistent act for a later time. Think about it. You don't want to be in a place where you need resilience while you're in the midst of a storm. You don't want to realize the need to know how to swim when you're in the deep end of the pool. Being tossed in is not the time for you to try to come up with ways and tips and tricks to be able to swim to the side. Just as the cooled and pervasive water would rise in an apathetic attempt to overtake you, so will life.
You may even feel like that reading this blog right now. I've had that too. Our paths may not be the same but I want to encourage you. Your ability to bounce back and operate in resilience hinges on the strength and knowledge you gain from the seemingly small battles. They all add up.
My battles looked like having two kids at home, very little marketable skills and my GED while trying to figure out how I was going to feed us 3. It looked like going to work with healing bruises across my body from a DV incident in my home but going to work because my children needed stability. It looked like being told your son will, “never be normal” but pressing though to support him resulting in living on his own now. If I didn't have resilience in my pocket I don't know how far I would have gone or how long I would have lasted.
Your mindset has a lot to do with your ability to be resilient. Being discouraged or frustrated may cause you to question why even try. A resilient person is not thinking like that. A resilient person is laser focused on what they can do in their power to achieve what they're trying to achieve. Even if it's just getting through the day with a smile. Even if it's cooking dinner without burning it. You have to be able operate in and cultivate resilience. Here’s a few tips I lean on to this day to operate in resilience.
Operate from a position of strength. What I mean by that is your mind cannot be devoid of positive, motivating and empowering thoughts. Your mind holds a key. I call that key the affirmation voice. The affirmation voice is the first voice you hear in your head after God or your parents. That voice that you hear is empowering to you? Is it supportive of you working toward your goals? Or is it negative? Is it causing you to operate from a place of fear? You cannot operate from a place of strength shooting yourself down. Allowing stinking thinking or automatic negative thoughts to fester in your brain works against you and weakens you in the face of opposition. Those automatic negative thoughts (or ANT’s) are like shooting yourself in the foot and right before setting out to run a race! Instantly there are so many other things that you have to contend with let alone focusing on what is required to finish the race.
Make a decision to finish. This is empowering. No matter how many times you fall you're going to keep getting up and getting back in the race. Cardi B has a song called Get Up 10. She's saying that it doesn't matter if she falls 9 times she's getting up 10 times. No matter how many times you are told no. How many times you are dismissed. No matter how many times you are validly discouraged. Are you determined to keep getting up? Are you going to keep going when you get kicked out of school and your appeal is denied? How many more times are you going to appeal if he can get back into school to get your degree for 5? How many times if you have a number I challenge you to remove the number. Go until you can go to the end of yourself
Forgive yourself…honestly. Give yourself grace. If you made a mistake you can learn from it. I would encourage you to name the mistake up honestly and factually, adding no value to it. See how you can use it to further you to move forward and move on.
No matter what happens just know your resilience is built on your ability and your determination to KEEP. GETTING. UP.
If you are down right now? GET UP. If you are discouraged? Feel that feeling and then GET UP.
All of us miss the mark. Don’t define yourself by the “miss”. Define yourself by the win.
“Don't be defined by the pain... Or the attack. Be defined by the victory OVER it”. ~ Deanna J. Speaks!