7 Ways to Be More Resilient

After an auto repairman she trusted ran off with her car parts and money, she leaned on these important lessons.

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- Posted on Jul 30, 2019

A flower growing through the concrete.

The whole thing had caught me off guard. The auto repairman I’d long trusted, had done good work in the past and always treated me fairly, duped me. He took off with my money and my car parts, never to be seen again. 

It split my heart wide open. My virtues—my trusting nature, belief in the goodness of people and the wonder of the world at large—had made me vulnerable. I’d bounced back from worse events, but this one somehow had me in its grip. A long look inside, however, taught me new lessons in the power and protection of resilience. I hope what I learned will help you, too.

1. It’s our reaction to tough times, not the tough times themselves that write our life story. I recalled a comment from my earlier years that tough times don’t last, but tough people do. That’s resilience in a nutshell. I wanted this momentary trial to become a triumph so I revisited circumstances in my past that with God’s help I had pulled through—challenging surgeries, completing nursing school under duress, the decade when both my parents battled bone cancer. There was strength there, that I hadn't begun to tap.

2. Seek peace. As Sheila Walsh once said: “Peace is not the absence of trouble, but the presence of Christ.” This mental shift gave me strength and kept my eyes on things above. When I chose peace, I no longer relived my shortcomings and my trust in others was no longer in tatters. It was also a huge step toward more resilience.

3. Open yourself up to community. At times like this, it’s important to stay connected to people and not be afraid to ask for help. As I heard others’ stories, those also snookered by this car repairman, I didn’t feel so alone. Opening my heart and mind to the resources all around me was a lesson from the very heart of God.

4. Look for opportunities to grow. It's important that we never stop growing and learning. I needed to learn to trust my own instincts, as much as I trust others. While dealing with the car repairman, I experienced a strong gut feeling that something was amiss. There were many unanswered questions and unquestioned answers. But I ignored them to my own peril. The American designer, Eleanor McMillen Brown, taught her young charges that when one thing changes, rethink everything. Great advice for interior design and in becoming a more resilient person.

5. Reach down deep inside. When I finally opened myself to my own power, I discovered things I didn’t know I knew about myself. For starters, I looked at the place I call home, an old log cabin I’d named The Leaning Log. As I recounted the thrifty finds I’d reimagined, I realized I had a gift for making do and making over. The thought of it snuggled up in my spirit. I could, and would, do the same whenever life threw me a curve. I also took a hard look at how I could become even stronger in the future. Resilience isn’t something we’re born with, but if we believe in ourselves, can be learned and enhanced.

6. Stay focused of the long-term. A failure is merely one way of not doing something. As I moved toward a more resilient life, I celebrated each tiny step and built on them. I remained confident in my ability to become a victor instead of a victim.

7. Know what you can count on. A faith-filled life is one that never really lets us down. I believe there’s nothing like finding a way to reach out to God that complements one’s personal communication style. That vehicle may be a nature walk, journaling or meditating in a favorite chair with a cup of tea. But it connects us to the greatest strength of all. As I asked God to put the fight of resilience inside my spirit, I sensed that times of adversity help us build our capacity for bouncing back and finding deeper purpose and meaning in every day. It helped me develop a guiding mantra and to repeat it to myself often. I vowed that when life threatens to break me, I would create art with the pieces.

To be sure, adapting these lessons when things don’t go well doesn’t mean we don’t face hurdles. But this I do know. An ever-faithful God is calling us to leave behind our regrets and mistakes toward a more resilient, abundant life.

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