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How to Be Resilient in Times of Adversity

October 19, 2020
BY:
Melanie Wilhoite

Here’s a statement nobody would argue: 2020 is a year of resilience.

When you are emotionally resilient, it doesn’t mean you aren’t unaffected by life’s trials.  It means you can let yourself cry, wretch, even fall down limp and hopeless, but eventually you sit up, blow your nose, pat cold water on your eyes and put one foot in front of the other again, even when you don’t know what to do.  In other words, you keep going.  But how?

When I purchased a powersports dealership several years ago, I believed that my previous business ownership and marketing experience would be enough to propel the business to greater heights.  What I got instead was a blazingly rude trial by fire that came perilously close to a catastrophic financial loss.  I placed too much trust in others and hadn’t vetted the health of the business properly for myself.  Once I fully understood the grave situation the business was in, I spent days curled up and crying, wondering how I would save my investment and my pride.  

I succeeded in turning things around only after a profound mental shift from believing in the physical to placing what some might say is an irrational belief in the metaphysical, the idea that we receive what we believe.  The resilience I discovered within myself came from a dogged practice of placing my trust in the Universe.  And damn-it-all if it didn’t work.  I worked in the business, yes, focusing on one small shift at a time.  Every night and every morning I would meditate, or recite positive affirmations, or visualize the outcome I wanted.  Over an agonizingly slow five years I was able to grow the business, make it profitable, and ultimately sell it for a profit.  

That lesson in resilience forever changed me, but the exact same thing might not work for you.  Much has been written about resilience, and to help you make it through stress and anxiety associated with the current pandemic, here’s advice from four expert resources in 2020.

Expert Advice for All Around Resilience 

According to Eileen Zimmerman in What Makes Some People More Resilient Than Others published in the New York Times, the biggest characteristics of highly resilient individuals include having a positive outlook, having a belief in something greater than themselves, accepting what they cannot change and focusing on what they can, having a purpose, and having a social support system.  My purpose was building a successful business.  Yours might be simply maintaining your sanity while working from home.  Finding supportive people to talk to and planning what you can do to make it better one small step at a time are solid strategies that help. 

Expert Advice for COVID-19 Resilience

In Mental Resilience Can Help You Through the Coronavirus Pandemic; Here’s How to Build It, Andrea Petersen quotes Dr. Rick Hanson, author of the 2020 book “Resilient,” who recommends a tactic I stumbled upon out of desperation.  He says that “being able to calm your body is fundamental” to emotional resilience, as is taking big breaths and doing long exhalations.”  Those of you who meditate know that meditations often begin with deep breathing.  This article explains why.   

Jessica Migala and Kimberly Rae Miller address How to Build Resilience From the Stress of the Coronavirus for the AARP, with specific tips for those dealing with situational worries such as being at greater risk of COVID-19 because of your ethnic group or health condition, or if you are a stressed caregiver. 

Emily Esfahani Smith, author of “The Power of Meaning: Finding Fulfillment in a World Obsessed With Happiness,” tells us that resilient individuals can overcome tragedy by being able to see “glimmers of light” in the “darkest of places” in the New York Times opinion piece On Coronavirus Lockdown? Look for Meaning, Not Happiness.  The glimmer that I hung onto was the constant-enough belief that I was, despite my situation, a successful person and would not fail.  If you are feeling extra stressed by your Coronavirus lockdown circumstances, it’s important to know that there are tried and true methods for lifting yourself up and out.  Focus on what’s good, breathe, ask yourself what you CAN do, and then go do it.  It worked for me.