Resiliency can be a controversial topic. According to Webster’s “resiliency” is the ability to recover from adversity, the ability to bounce back.
After experiencing a change that we did not anticipate, are we aware of our resilience? Do we bounce back to our former selves, or perhaps even bounce forward—having developed positively from the change?
I consider myself relatively optimistic, and one who privately welcomes change. But, when the rug is yanked out from beneath me, and I find myself abruptly sitting on the floor, I don’t always recognize a feeling of resilience washing over me instantly. In fact, under such circumstances, if anyone reminds me to “count my blessings,” I may not respond so positively.
If you can relate to this scenario, what was helpful to you in getting through it?
I went to OT school because I wanted to be a part of efforts to help fellow humans cope with adversity and return to their lives. But for many of the individuals I helped who had in some way become disabled, life as they knew it know it no longer existed. Especially for those affected by a spinal cord injury, all the sock aids and front-wheeled walkers in the world are not going to piece life back together to its original state.
The most powerful modality we have in our therapy toolbox is ourselves. With this in mind, we may need to carry the idea of resiliency for our clients, and meet them where they are. Not where we want them to be.
It is so powerful when another human meets us right where we are. When I have been faced with extreme change what has helped me most to cope is the feeling that someone was actively listening. I really didn’t expect anyone else to “fix” anything—it seemed obvious to me such a thing was unlikely to occur. However, with suport, I was able to find the resilience I needed in the only place it exists: within me.
We can’t give resiliency, but we can provide the space and ourselves to our fellow humans as they cope with changes in front of them, and develop a new life.