This is a guest blog by Julia Simens, educational psychologist and author of the book ‘Emotional Resilience and the Expat Child’, contributing author to The Gratitude Project: Celebrating Moms and Motherhood. For more information about Julia and to read her blog and related articles, go to www.jsimens.com .
I have been lucky enough to thrive on change and in fact seek it out. Two children, four continents, seven new offices, seven international moves and ten more places on my ‘to do list’ has given me a unique perspective on what all these transitions do to the family. When unexpected events turn life upside down, it’s the degree to which our resiliency comes into play that makes these ‘make-or-break’ situations an opportunity for growth. The good news: each of us has the capacity to reorganize our life after a change and to achieve new levels of strength and meaningfulness. Though it’s easy to feel vulnerable in the midst of chaos and uncertainty, life disruptions are not necessary a bad thing because they help us grow and meet future challenges in our lives.
So how can you become more resilient? Here is a look at four key characteristics of people who demonstrate resilience during life’s transitions.
1. Positive trust
Resilient people rely on their belief in the basic goodness of the world and trust things will turn out all right in the end.
2. Interpreting experience in an ‘open’ way
The ability to look at a situation in a new way (a skill called reframing) can minimize the impact of a new situation. Resilient people don’t always use an old definition for a new challenge they are creative.
3. A meaningful system of support
One of the best ways to endure a transition is to have the support of another person who can listen and validate our feelings. It is important to choose people you trust. Don’t be surprised if it takes several friends, each of whom provides different kinds of support.
4. Have a voice
Resilient people know that ultimately their survival and the integrity of their lives depend on their ability to take action rather than remain passive. Giving voice to your thoughts and feelings leads to insight and helps transform the meaning of a stressful situation into something useful.
Whether you are staying or leaving, these next few weeks you will be saying goodbye – to someone. The first step in this process is to celebrate with the ones that have been a part of your life and start the closure process. Major transitions are a ‘gotcha’ we all experience at one time or another in our lives. Some transitions are easy to see and know but there are many hidden ones also. Be sure to let your friends know if you are dealing with a ‘gotcha’ transition.