What is resilience?

What is Resilience?

We’re hearing the word resilience connected to mental health more frequently. We ask Los Angeles-based writer and content creator Brittney Moses to help us understand the meaning of “resilience.” Why is it important and how can we be more resilient? Brittney is passionate about the intersection between faith, mental health, and wellness. Her popular blog advocates for wholehearted mental wellness for everyday living. Here are some of her thoughts.

What does “resilience” mean?

BM: Resilience is really this idea of being able to “bounce back” from life’s challenges, maybe not perfectly or overnight, but you’re able to use personal coping skills or find the resources that help you move through a crisis. I believe that all of us are incredibly resilient for making it as far as we have today. 

Why is resilience important in mental health?

BM: This is important because you want people to have their own tool belt of coping skills to get through through their own experience. A therapist isn’t going to be able to live your life for you or make your choices for you. But a mental health professional can give you the skills so that you have the agency to develop personal ways of coping through hardship that work for you. That may look like learning how to practically re-frame your thoughts. Meditating on Scripture and re-grounding yourself in God’s promises. Reaching out to your community or loved ones for support when you need it most. Incorporating movement or creativity into ways of expressing distressing emotions. 

Oftentimes we don’t realize how resilient we are until we look back and realize that by God’s grace we somehow made it through the seemingly impossible.

What are the often-overlooked fruits of resiliency in our lives?

BM: I have a lot of hope for people because I truly believe we are more adaptable and resilient then we may realize. The fact that you’ve survived everything that’s happened to you up to this point is proof of this. But some overlooked fruits of resiliency may look like this:

  • You’re handling things much differently than you would have in the past. 

If you’re responding to your current circumstances with more thoughtfulness than you would have maybe 5 years ago- that’s big progress. If you’re placing a pause between your thoughts and actions and becoming more considerate about the following steps you’re going to take- friend, that is progress. That doesn’t mean we’ll always make perfect decisions, but it does mean you’re at least being proactive about how you approach life. Never underestimate how important this is.

  • You’re becoming more aware of the thoughts and feelings that you’re struggling with.

Being able to identify and put words toward what it is you’re feeling and thinking internally is emotional intelligence. The more self-aware you are, the better your chances are of addressing the areas where you need practice and healing. 

  • You’re seeking support even when it feels shameful and scary.

When you call that friend, reach out to your support group, or seek out your therapist or counselor and reveal the most authentic parts of what burdens you- this is courage. This is strength. Many times this goes against the more self-preserving parts of you, especially when your first defense may have been to withdraw, isolate and resort to your own doubts. Reaching out is more proof that you’re maturing much more than it may feel like you are.

In spite of everything, maybe it’s time to take a moment to stop shaming yourself for where you’re not and start celebrating how far you’ve come and how far you will continue to go. Because God is not finished with you yet.

Why is resilience a top skill needed in today’s workplace, and even in culture and community?

BM: When I think about resilience in the workplace and our communities, I think about having a collective growth-mindset. This idea is really expanded upon by American psychologist, Carol Dweck. Dweck explains in her book Mindset, “…Those with the growth mindset do not label themselves and throw up their hands. Even though they feel distressed, they’re ready to take risks, confront the challenges and keep working at them…Failure can be a painful experience. But it doesn’t define them. It’s a problem to be faced, dealt with and learned from.”

Where does the growth mindset apply? Everywhere.

  • To the idea that you stepped out on and didn’t see the return you expected.
  • To the paper you got back that you completely bombed.
  • To that mistake you made (or keep making) on the job.
  • To your walk with Christ when it seems impossible to live up to the standard of your faith.

It applies all day, every day as we constantly come face to face with where we fall short.

When we all decide to become students of our lives, our relationships, our jobs, true growth supersedes image and character is built. This means it’s also important that we provide grace and safe spaces for people to grow and actively learn from their mistakes (where the best learning usually takes place). I believe that if we collectively took on a growth-mindset we’d see some of the best potential come out of one another in our relationships, in our jobs and in our communities. It really comes back to the biblical idea of iron sharpening iron (Proverbs 27:17).

Instead of committing to winning the approval of people, commit to growth. The growth that takes place when no one is watching. When you commit to growth, you commit to character and longevity. It’s a process that eventually outgrows the opinions of people and the results will follow.

Thank you, Brittney, for answering the question, What is resilience? so well. Remember to choose growth over approval, committing to being resilient, even when it’s tough. Check out the 2-minute versions of these audio meditations from Abide on taking care of your mental health.

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