When life events rock your world it is difficult to think straight and move through the emotional roller coaster without getting thrown out of your seat. Learning to rely on past experience so you can meet adversity with endurance takes practice. Unfortunately, the only way you can practice is to face each new challenge head-on. Building resilience is what happens when you do this successfully.
Resilience Building Cycle
Life is in a constant state of flux with big and small changes happening all the time, sometimes overshadowing the quiet times altogether.
You may think of this as a linear string of events that seem unrelated and never-ending, full of upheavals and overwhelm. I like to think of our journey through life events as a circle.
As you struggle through, the circle may lead you back to a place that seems not to have changed. Full circle. But, if you look closely and consider the journey through the events, you will likely notice that what has changed is you.
The change that happens in your life, as a result of a major life event like a divorce, retirement, a layoff, relocation, or the loss of a loved one, is the challenge you face. As you move through it, accept and adapt to the change, use your skills to find solutions, become tenacious and persevere, you build resilience.
Through this process, you become more aware, gain insights and knowledge about yourself. You may become more reflective and introspective. You are developing inner wisdom to help you as life goes on and new challenges arise.
Resilience and wisdom bring positive energy. As you look forward, you will be able to face the next experience with more confidence that you can handle it and will be okay. You may get to the point of welcoming new challenges for the opportunities they present to grow, become more sensitive and feel grateful for the experience. This is your transition.
Phases of Transition
I believe transitions happen in phases, and you move through those phases as you heal and grow—often experiencing a very bumpy ride. As I see it, those phases move in a similar circular pattern.
Some people think of the seasons of nature as transitional phases: when a life event happens it feels like autumn and your leaves start to fall and the wind blows them all around, then everything stalls through a long cold winter, picks up speed and color in spring, and ends in summer with blue skies and gentle breezes. Then it starts all over again next year, but it’s different—because you are different.
I see it a bit differently, based on my own experience. As I suggest in my book, Upside Down to Right Side Up, your movement through change may start with wearing a mask, pretending everything is okay, while deep inside you know it is not.
Then, you might be challenged by crazed emotions as you try to show up in every facet of your life, just coping and surviving.
Next comes embracing the reality that something is changing, and all the growth that comes along with it.
And finally, ending in triumph where dreams are created, and you can take flight again.
At some point, another life challenge will come your way. Déjà vu all over again.
It’s a cycle of change—of growth. You’re building resilience along the way.
However you like to think of this cycle, the journey is intended to teach you lessons—what I lovingly call “tools in your treasure chest.” Because, at least where I come from, those transitional times—caused by life-changing moments—just keep coming.
And, that treasure chest of lessons can help you the next time life turns your world upside down.
Building Resilience Muscles
When I mentioned that it can feel like déjà vu, it is another moment when I know from experience that I have faced similar adversity, figured out how to adapt and find a good solution, and moved through it with more wisdom, dignity, and grace than the last time.
Full circle. A resilience building opportunity.
Each time you face a new life challenge, it is another chance to put on your big girl panties and accept the responsibility that life brings—like it or not.
Every single time it happens, something changes. It’s you.
You get to pull out and lean on those tools in your treasure chest to guide you, so this next journey through a life upheaval is easier.
Your next major life event may not be the same as the last or the one before that, but the tools that accumulate in your treasure chest can be a magical starting point.
They can be adapted, turned sideways to work better in this new situation or pulled apart so pieces can be used to help you get through.
I think we come to many full circles in our lifetime. When we open up to the possibility that change can strengthen us—building resilience muscles along the way—perhaps it can make the struggle a bit easier and you can welcome the cycle as a blessing instead of a curse.
Stepping onto Your Bridge
When life-changing moments flip the world upside down, I create a bridge for women so they can turn chaos into calm, build resilience and learn to live a life guided by their own values and vision. If you’re ready to take the first step onto your bridge and explore how change can impact you and how to move through it with more dignity and grace, get my free ebook From Darkness to Light: Learning to Adapt to Change and Move Through Transition.