Resilience isn’t just the ability to bounce back, but the strong and bright belief that a better future is waiting down the road, writes Louise Slyth
2020 is not the year any of us planned. It has been an aberration: a year of loss, grief, fear, frustration and missed opportunities. So many weddings, confirmations, reunions, concerts and parties cancelled. So many dresses bought and now languishing at the back of the wardrobe. We know the psychological impact of isolation during this period is profound. Even those of us lucky enough not to be directly impacted will emerge with scars.
As we perform the necessary but unwelcome movement through levels, it’s natural to feel lost and powerless. Humans seek certainty, and unfortunately, certainty is in short supply right now. The only thing we can be sure of is that winter is coming and it’s going to be tough.
I have made peace with the fact that the present must be endured so that the future can be enjoyed
We are living with increasingly restrictive measures. I am fearful for what that will do to the economy and vital healthcare, but those concerns aside, I’m wondering why the idea is causing so much consternation. We have all been through it once and we survived.
I feel well able for what now feels inevitable. I have made peace with the fact that the present must be endured so that the future can be enjoyed. In many ways, reaching the acceptance phase of grieving for my old life, will make what lies ahead easier.
Resilience has become a much-used buzzword. You could say resilience is the new black. It is defined as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties”. I think this is only part of the picture. For me, resilience isn’t just the ability to bounce back, but the strong and bright belief that a better future is waiting down the road. That belief gives us the ability to just keep going when things are impossible, because we believe in the incredible.
I have a bit of experience of “just keeping going” and I’d hazard a guess that most of us do. Anyone who has survived bereavement, bullying, a job loss, or a breakup will already have the emotional armour for the battle ahead. The ability not just to bounce back, but to relentlessly keep moving forward in the face of adversity, is an often-undervalued blessing that unpleasant life experiences provide.
Resilience is about faith. Faith that life will get better. Faith that our future selves will once again enjoy all the freedoms and luxuries we previously took for granted. Faith that a vaccine will be found. Faith that the majority will act responsibly in order to protect the minority. We need to have faith in ourselves and each other.
The lives we knew are on hold. We all want to live expansively again. (Remember 2019?) Things we enjoyed then now feel like impossible commodities that we can only hope to have restored; hugs, long lunches, festivals, concerts, foreign travel, job security… We need to keep the faith that our future selves will relish all these gifts in days to come. In the meantime, we need to enjoy what we do have and keep moving forward.
Moving forward when you feel stuck and lost can feel impossible. Yet there are things we can all do to invest in our future selves – our shiny 2021 selves that survived 2020 and will be all the stronger for it. Investing in yourself is a positive action we can all take, that gives back that much needed sense of control.
Can you enrol on a course? Perhaps address a niggling issue you have been brushing under the carpet for years? Start meditation or yoga? If you dream of living abroad one day, can you start using a language app? Are you able to sow the seeds of even a small project that will show its green shoots in spring? Your future self will thank you.
The next few months are going to be a bit like walking through a hailstorm- you know it’s going to sting a bit, but you should also know you are going to get through it. Good things are coming. They must. It’s our job to just keep going until we get there.
Related: What your gut is trying to tell you about your mental health
Related: High-functioning anxiety: the signs, symptoms and when to seek help
Related: At 33 my life has taken a U-turn with MS. As long as Covid looms, I won’t be leaving the house