It is remarkably easy to forget how resilient we have been over the years, and still are. It’s worthwhile to get a reminder from time to time of what we have come through to be where we are this very day.
A quotation from Winston Churchill makes this point very well on a world scale.
On December 30 1941, with Britain engaged in what was to be World War II, Winston Churchill said this to the Canadian Parliament: “We have not journeyed across the centuries, across the oceans, across the mountains, across the prairies, because we are made of sugar candy.”
I don’t know of a better affirmation of resilience. Like Churchill, we have all survived despite challenging and even terrifying threats.
The Brits had declared war against Germany in 1939, after it had become clear that Hitler would not be satisfied with any tolerable concessions. Britain was not in a strong position to deal with the German juggernaut.
It took remarkable courage to stand up to Hitler unilaterally. Churchill had long warned England of what the Nazis were likely to do, and he was rejected for those warnings. Once it became clear that he was right, he was chosen to lead his country through the ensuing war.
Churchill was ready to deal with the coming threat, even though his ideas had been rejected by the majority of his countrymen. He had anticipated the conflicts that would result from Hitler’s ambitions.
On the smaller scale in which most of us live, readiness or “anticipation” is an important aspect of resilience. The Harvard Grant Study, in which Harvard students were watched through their lifespan, listed anticipation, which leads to readiness, as one of the core skills that lead to a good, successful life.
When you are first learning to build your resilience, it may be very hard for you to think ahead and strengthen yourself to respond to what is likely to come. But, once you are able, you should do your best to develop the skill of anticipation.
Do this without being impatient if you are presently too overwhelmed to deal with anything beyond the load you are bearing right now.
And you should not forget that you are not “made of sugar candy”. Think about it. Sugar candy can easily be made to melt, break, or fall apart.
You wouldn’t be alive today and reading a blog on resilience if you hadn’t gotten through many painful experiences that challenged your capacity to survive and succeed. You may have been scared or in pain, but you didn’t melt, break, or fall apart.
I know it is easy to forget these successes and focus instead on the threats. So why not think instead of the many distressing experiences you have survived, intact? And think about the strengths and the strategies that got you to where you are.
If your life had been easy, or if it had broken you, you probably wouldn’t be interested in learning how to be resilient. And even to bother to learn about resilience, you must have hope that you can do better. Hope, too, is an aspect of resilience.
There are always steps you can take to move forward, even when the situation seems bleak. You have done it before, and you can do it now.