There are many reasons to seek therapy. It is a place to work through the difficulties that you face in your life. It is a place to learn more about yourself and how you interact with others. Going to therapy doesn’t have to be dwelling on the negative, or as I call it sitting in the muck. It can be an encouraging and collaborative process. Clients come in to therapy with a unique set of strengths that is their personal tool belt for life. Therapy helps you identify the tools you already own and can teach you how to use them to benefit your mental health. When a client comes in for an initial intake or a follow up session I want to know about their pre-existing strengths that make up their resilience. Resilience is defined as the ability to overcome adversity and cope with stressful events. It is what we have going for us that helps us get out of the difficult situations that we encounter in life. I have found that everyone has different resiliencies to different stressors. I tend to look out for the most common types of resilience and the types of tools that many people carry in their tool belt for life.
Social support (family, friends, romantic partners) Who do you talk to? Social support is one of the most important tools in resilience. It helps us feel connected to others and can help us feel like we are not alone in our journey. Your social support is composed of the people you turn to when you are experiencing difficulties in your life. These people help to take some of your burden away by listening to you vent. They also can help distract you from the issues that are looming over you.
Sense of humor Can you laugh at yourself or more importantly the situation? Life is much more tolerable when you can laugh along the way. Many times in life we encounter situations that are stressful and totally out of our control. It as a part of gaining Unconditional Life Acceptance (link article that talks about ULA), which is one of the main goals of REBT therapy. Once we realize that the world does not revolve around us we can begin to enjoy our journey. It is important to try to find humor in the process.
Stress reducer Do you have a go to activity that reduces your negative emotions? It is inevitable that situations will come up in your life that will leave you feeling stressed, sad, or frustrated. It is important to have an activity that will guarantee to make you feel better. For many people this may be a type of physical activity that helps them reduce stress or negative feelings. It is important to be able to identify something that you can do for yourself to make you feel better. This could be as simple as treating yourself to frozen yogurt or getting out of the house and going for a walk. The key is to know what activity will help you reduce your negative emotions and then actually going out and doing it!
Being resilient is not something that people have or don’t have. It is something that can be built from already present aspects of our environment and grown by the recognition that it works and is helpful. Everyone’s tool belt for life can use some extra tools or ones that are more streamlined to your specific environments. Here is an inspiring video about a woman’s journey to become more resilient in the face of adversity.