Things may never be the same, but you won’t always feel the way you do right now. Welcome to resilience, where survival is not a matter of being the fastest or the fittest, but rather possessing the inner strength to stay the course and make it to the other side.
Adversity is a universal part of life that we don’t have to like, but are better off if we can find a way to accept and grow from it. Resisting hardship only adds seeds to our suffering and delays our acceptance, making resistance the number one barrier to resilience.
People are actually very resilient, but the fight-flight-freeze stress response that calls upon our resiliency was never meant to be a lifestyle, but rather a response to life threatening circumstances where time is of the essence.
When everything is a threat and nothing is for certain, we operate from our primal brain where self-preservation is the priority. With this part of the brain activated, access to the prefrontal cortex, where thinking and reasoning take place, is shut off.
The more we understand how the brain and body integrate, the more control we have over our resilience. For example, the brain and body are in constant communication with one another through the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is a cranial nerve that runs the distance from the brainstem to the abdomen, and touches every major organ along the way.
Sometimes we feel things in the body before the brain is even aware. For example, the sensation of butterflies in your stomach is the vagus nerve telling your brain something is making you nervous. A gut feeling is also the vagus nerve at work.
Signals from the body might feel intense, but once we stop to sort out the information and name what we’re feeling, we know we are not in immediate danger. And it is from this home of higher cognition that we recognize our options, remember that we have done hard things before and can do hard things again, and restore our equilibrium.
Getting to this place of higher level functioning is a practice of faith, hope, and courage. And it starts with the power of taking pause . Pausing takes us out of the grips of our emotions and centers us in the present moment. One way to trigger a pause is to register the body’s 5 senses through consciously observing sights, sounds, tastes, smells, and touch.
Wherever there is an ending there is also a new beginning. By transcending our suffering we heal. How has what you have endured made you stronger or more grateful? What are you capable of doing now that you weren’t able to before?
Resilience is a whole body experience. Tune in to the mind-body connection to turn up your coping capabilities.