Every day is a tightrope walk while living with the traveling circus of inflammation called Lupus. There’s a fine line between control and chaos. Of course we cannot control what life throws at us but we can choose how we react to it. A resilient spirit taught me I have control over what I think and how I react. It is with a resilient spirit I survive the trials and tribulations of life. Everyone has their share of life’s ups and downs but it’s how we cope that makes a difference, part of that is learning resilience.
You know there are people who are fighters. They fight for life, to beat an illness, equality, and for the lives of others. Then there’s the opposite.. that person who cries the sky is falling over a hang nail or a bad hair day and give up without trying. Of course we cannot control what life throws at us but we can choose how we react to it. I think we all have our share of problems to deal with but we can’t let those problems or situations break us. I used to wonder what I did to deserve so much pain and uncertainty. I felt cheated by illness, cheated out of my successful career and the life I had planned. With the dark cloud of lupus following me everywhere, I never know when it will rain on my parade. It’s easy to become bitter and angry however that’s not the person I want to be. Now, some days are about mere survival and others are about squeezing every bit of happiness out of a day.
Who we are on this journey of life and the person we are in spite of life’s battles, whether it’s divorce, illness or loss of a loved one, or any other things that can tear a person down, determines if we’re surviving or living life a happy life. Spirituality influences our ability to be resilient. Believing, having faith gives us hope, peace and comfort in day to day life. Spirituality is about compassion and gratitude, finding miracles in every day life. Every day I try to find the good in myself and others. I’ve learned to be more compassionate, more understanding, more empathetic and above all, more accepting.
As a resilient spirit, I choose to focus on the positive, embrace the moment, and believe it will get better. I connect with nature by going for a short walk in the forest preserve as often as possible to connect with nature. It settles me and brings peace. I choose to write. My writing is a bit of an escape, so is reading. Also, helping others will always get my mind off of my own problems. They’re many different useful distractions for instance hobbies, friends, family and a multitude of other healthy choices. Sometimes those distractions can even help someone else.
We all have difficulties to overcome on this journey called life so let’s learn how to have a resilient spirit, cultivate it, hone it.
- Acceptance is part of survival. Start by accepting responsibility for what you can control and let go of what you can’t. By accepting the current situation and modifying behavior I’ve learned to endure. To heal, we need to accept ourselves and our situation. This applies to everyone in life not just those of us with chronic illnesses. Acceptance isn’t about giving up. It’s about moving on. Over coming feelings of guilt, shame and regret. Change happens, accept it! The sooner you do, the sooner you will find peace. I accept that everything changes and focus on the most important aspects of life. George Orwell’s quote ~ Happiness can exist only in acceptance, is posted on my bathroom mirror.
- Perseverance is important, never give up! I try to be as self sufficient as possible. Not only will it boost my ego for the accomplishment but it will help create a positive attitude. I may not be an olympian or marathon runner but I still feel triumphant at times. It’s minor accomplishments compared to other people but it’s success for me.
- Realistic optimism is understanding the situation is temporary, that good and bad outcomes are only transitional. You can’t let those moments define you. I’ve stopped comparing my life to what it used to be.
- Open your mind to all possibilities. Flexibility relieves some of the anxiety. Ask for help when needed. Don’t choose to be a victim, take control! Focus on the most important aspects of your life…. people, memories and happiness.
- Challenge yourself to find beauty in every day. Feeling a connection to the living world around us brings peace, it’s kind of transformational; A beautiful bright full moon, the sound of a summer rain or a butterfly floating among the flowers is a spiritual experience to me. I’m truly humbled by nature. It makes you realize that you are a very small part of the world around you.
- Focus on what is actually happening at that moment and try not to anticipate anything else. Do your best to cut out drama! You know the old saying don’t cry until it hurts? I tend to overthink the endless possibilities. When I start going there stop that thought process by staying in the present.
- Your experiences make you who you are. Everyone has experienced failure and disappointment. No one has a perfect life. No one chooses to have a chronic illness. It’s how we deal with what we have that makes a difference in living a happy life. Failure and mistakes are part of the learning process. Becoming emotionally strong enough to let go of failure and learning from mistakes is a part of life. Personally, I focus on what I can do. No sense in wallowing in the I can’t, or the past. When my mind says go but my body says no – I must adjust accordingly to survive. I have good days, bad days and sometimes a mixture all in one day. We can learn to become stronger from our challenges.
Resilience takes effort and mindfulness. Whatever happens, I try to become content with my life. Every day I choose to be a survivor, NOT a victim and resilience is the key. I have to believe things will get better, to have hope, in order to survive. Hopefully, we can use the trials and pain to become a better person. Become aware of life’s priorities, it’s not the material things that matter. What matters most are the people in your life and the memories made. The future is unpredictable, savor the moments you are triumphant. Let’s choose to do more by living life and not just surviving.
There’s a Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with gold called Kintsugi. I love this as an analogy to life and resilience… our lives are the bowl pieced together with gold by overcoming our challenges. Yes, it’s a scar but it’s not unsightly. Our experience molds us into who we are, find the beauty, scars and all. A favorite Ernest Hemingway quote comes to mind – The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are stronger in the broken places.