When I think about hard times, I think about how they can break or make a person. They come on like strong storms that blow against the body or mind. During these times, it feels as though everything that can be torn away has been and only the essential parts remain.

In a very real way, we are made for these storms; the risk to our hearts, and the bruises brought on by this thing called life. When these storms or crises happen and you feel hurt or betrayed, overwhelmed, and even incapable, sit quietly and recall the good times you’ve had. Let the sweetness remind you that there is room for hope. Remind yourself of the positives within the journey and then reach into the resilience within.

The American Psychological Association (APA) defines resilience as the “the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress. Wikipedia defines it as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties, or to utilize “toughness,” to bounce back, or as the power within. No matter how resilience is defined, it is clearly necessary as one moves forward in life.

Being independent and on your own can be challenging, and as life throws curve balls, one needs to have the tools and resources to gain momentum. I like to call this being resilient.

There are many different ways to use resilience. The key form of resilience that is necessary when recovering from any mental or behavioral health disorder is emotional resilience. I opted to define this as an ability to tap into realistic optimism, particularly when dealing with a crisis. Some of the major characteristics of a resilient person include being autonomous, having a realistic sense of self-awareness, being adaptable, optimistic, pragmatic, socially connected, and self-compassionate. Being connected during the pandemic has been a challenge, so in an effort to increase resilience one must attempt to connect with friends and loved ones in creative ways. Isolation doesn’t take long to become loneliness which then leads to a lack of resilience or hope.

During a crisis or an event that causes emotional dysregulation, an individual may feel many negative emotions and a sense of uncertainty that leads to hopelessness. It is important to encourage the individual to tap into the power they have within. As a therapist, I try to challenge the individual to view things through a separate lens or perhaps a lens of resilience. The way in which we look at life has a lot to do with how we will respond. Have you ever met someone who shared a story with you that made you wonder, “Would I have made it out of that”? Do you tend to see the glass half full or half empty? Of course, you can make it through most things if you know how to dig a little deeper, dream a little longer, and hope a little harder.

As you strive to build resilience, remember to look further down the road and find hope. Now go towards that hope and as you start to regain momentum you will soon look back and realize, “that was me and I am resilient.” Then, as you continue to progress forward, you will realize that what your experiences have afforded you a great deal of resilience. You were able to tap into strengths you may not have been aware you had, and you demonstrated resilience along the way. The ability to bounce back says a lot about your strength and how you will overcome the challenges you face.

Regardless of how resilience is defined there are five (5) key components that you should utilize to help you progress:

  1. Rely on others: know that your support system is the key to your recovery
  2. Trust your own abilities: know that you are capable of overcoming difficulties, crisis, or stressful events, and that you have what it takes inside you.
  3. Being kind to yourself: One of the things that I often notice when treating a patient is that they aren’t graceful or merciful towards themselves and are generally their own worst critic. Show yourself forgiveness, grace, and mercy while being aware that this is a journey to a higher sense of self.
  4. Know that you can change the narrative when speaking with yourself: As adults we move about life not realizing the lies we repeat to ourselves so often. If someone tells us we can’t, we believe it and create self-doubt. But what if we can and all we have to do is believe? Change the narrative and move forward with your dreams for your life.
  5. Take an extra step, even a small one: Progress is progress no matter how small. As we change how we speak with ourselves, providing more grace and mercy, we should start to review our progress and celebrate our victories. I encourage my patients to acknowledge the storm but anticipate the rainbow all while remembering that another storm will come and likely pass as well.

Resilience is important and key to how we overcome obstacles we face no matter what stage we are in. Whether we are toddlers learning to walk or adults navigating through adulthood, it is our willingness to persevere and the ability to reflect back over other situations we worked through using resilience that will help us press on and overcome.

Define resilience for yourself, dig in and locate it, and then implement it into your daily life. The crisis, the obstacle, or the stress should not be so big that we can’t locate what is within or the tools we accessed before that helped us through. When an individual is unable to locate the tools and they feel unable to tap into that inner strength, they should be encouraged to reach out, to evaluate, and to seek help when needed.

It is not unusual for someone to feel so overwhelmed with negative emotions that they aren’t able to identify resilience or strengths within. This is when they should be encouraged to seek help from a professional, rely on others, and be encouraged to utilize new tools.

It isn’t uncommon when dealing with mental or behavioral health struggles to feel like you have no inner strength or ability to be resilient. Sometimes it can feel so overwhelming and unmanageable and like the feelings or emotions are going to wipe you out. Being able to access coping skills and learn the tools to overcome is yet another sign of resilience. I assure you that with the right help you will learn how to deal with what you are struggling with and be able to eventually look back and see that you were using resilience all along.

No matter the seasons one finds themselves in, never seek a perfect or pain-free existence. Get up every morning, take a good look around, and acknowledge that although you may feel like you are drowning, this too shall pass. Remember, there is a rainbow at the end of every storm. It’s true that we all deal with hardships, stress, and crises. Each experience may have knocked you down and even kept you down for a while but when it is over, press forward with a greater respect for life knowing that you have inner-strength-that resilience that is required when the next storm approaches.


Lucid Lane is dedicated to empowering people with pain and substance use to live healthier and happier lives.


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Disclaimer: VEST content is not therapy and is not designed to diagnose or treat any condition you may be experiencing. Please contact a medical or mental health professional for treatment that is specific to your needs.