Resilience is all about being able to overcome the unexpected. Sustainability is about survival. The goal of resilience is to thrive.Jamais Cascio
I see a lot of hate for resilience in the ADHD and mental illness communities. I completely understand the argument. Most people say, “I didn’t have to be traumatized to learn lessons. I shouldn’t have been hurt. I would rather be inadequate in the face of crisis than have this trauma.” I get that. Samesies.
My resilience has always been a source of pride for me. I have been through the ringer, y’all. Tiny, independent, and resilient as hell. Do I wish I’d had an easier time in life? You bet! Do I wonder what I could have been if my story hadn’t been rewritten so many times? Absolutely. Bit the fact is, my life was hard and there’s nothing I can change about that now.
What Is Resilience
Resiliency is the ability to navigate through life’s challenges. Sometimes it feels like life is just a series of problems. Solve one, three more pop up. We all have trauma, we all have pasts. It’s a really unfair, frustrating part of life, but it is a part of life.
Here’s the thing, though. We don’t just become resilient through the bad things that happen to us. We also build resilience through things like creativity, community, and self-confidence. There are five pillars of resilience. The theory is, if you can strengthen these pillars, the stronger your resilience will be.
- Mindfulness. It’s all about finding ways to live in the moment. One of my favorite lessons from coaching school is that the past and the future do not exist. The past is over and the future hasn’t happened yet. The only moment that is real is the moment we’re in. It would be nearly impossible to never worry about the future or think about the past, but you can always ground yourself by practicing mindfulness. Here is a great list of grounding exercises you can use to bring yourself back into the moment.
- Self-care. This will look different for everyone, but it’s all about recharging your batteries. Maybe it’s as simple as making sure you shower every day. It could be something extra for yourself, a manicure or a bubble bath. It could be allowing yourself time to be creative or take a nap or exercise. The sky is the limit with self care. The goal is, to feel better able to take on the various responsibilities that we have in life. Take care of yourself!
- Self-awareness. You want to have a clear picture of yourself as a whole. Getting to know myself and feel confident in that person has been a lifetime adventure but the more self-aware I get, the easier it gets. Get to know your strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, beliefs, motivations, and emotions. Basically, get to know yourself. Figure out what you stand for.
- Positive Relationships. Having a good support system is so important. Surround yourself with people who are understanding and supportive and immediately get rid of those who aren’t. The people in your life should be there to cheer you on and hold you and vice versa! The relationship should feel positive to everyone involved.
- Purpose. Serving something bigger than ourselves. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about. Everything from our families to our communities, we feel stronger when we are serving our purpose. It’s not easy to find. Sometimes it takes years. Once you do, though, you soar.
One lesson that I have learned over the last few years is that there’s always a lesson. In every failure, heartbreak, and trauma. Sometimes it’s merely that you were strong enough. It didn’t break you completely. I’ve been broken more than once, but never completely. My spirit has somehow made it through in tact. Even when it felt like a mortal wound.
I wish my childhood had been gentler, more loving. I’ve spent the last 30 years being gaslit and scapegoated and I did it all with a smile on my face. Until recently, anyway. I’m still trying to find the lessons in my childhood. Maybe that I went into it a kind, loving kid who only wanted to be loved and accepted and I came out of it a kind, loving adult who only wanted to be loved and accepted. They couldn’t harden my heart, no matter how hard they tried.
I wish my heart had never been broken. I wish ADHD and mental illness hadn’t derailed me at every turn. I wish I had never been betrayed, discarded, or ridiculed by people that I loved and respected. I wish. But all those things happened. Some of them damn near destroyed me.
I’ve been really vocal about the fact that I had a pretty bad downward spiral in 2014. A breakdown, if you will. But breakdowns don’t look how they make them look on TV. I still went to work every day. I took care of my kid. I went to therapy and I took my meds. But my insides were all messed up. Any and all of the walls that held my brain together and in working order were gone. They didn’t even crumble a little at a time. Someone had taken a wrecking ball to them.
Intrusive thoughts and obsessive thinking FLOODED my brain. My anxiety was frequent and pervasive. I was encompassed by apathy, with only the occasional bout of rage or anguish. All of my disorders were out in full bloom and they were taking no prisoners inside my brain. This went on, to some degree, until 2021. I literally lost six and a half years of my life to blinding mental disorder. In treatment the entire time, but with little to no support system.
Yet, somehow, I kept pushing forward. I hit rock bottom. My choices were to do something, anything, to drag myself out of this pit I was in…or I could live how I was living forever. The idea of it was heart wrenching. I couldn’t imagine merely just existing, barely even surviving, for the rest of my life. My resilience somehow pulled me through. I decided to keep fighting.
That decision ultimately led me here, to you. It led me to a new path, gave me a purpose. It led me to a world-wide support network. I learned a lot of lessons in those years. Most of them were only visible in hindsight. I’m a stronger woman, a better woman, because of those trials. They weren’t fair. I wish they hadn’t happened. But they did, and fuck them, because I came out of it the beautiful badass I was always meant to be.
So, to answer the question, is resilience a good thing? Yeah, I believe that it is. For me, it feels like a badge of honor. A way of sticking it to the man. My abuser never thought I’d amount to anything or at least wanted me to believe so. The stronger I become, the more I prove them wrong. They say that the best revenge is living your best life and I believe that.
Take your power back. Learn the lessons that are in the pain. Be kind to yourself. Work on self-awareness, mindfulness, self-care, your support system, and finding purpose. Strengthen your pillars.
Remember, you’re a beautiful badass too.
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Love and light. Keep fighting the good fight!