Developing Resilience

It happened again yesterday, that heart-stopping startle response.
From the passenger seat of our van.
The feeling that I'm not safe.
It's commonplace for me, that startle response, since the head-on collision 
two years ago, that could have very easily taken my life.
But yesterday it was worse than usual.
I felt it to my very core.
It was physical as well as emotional this time.
And it didn't feel good. At all.

Click for definition source at Merriam-Webster
Interestingly, I've been thinking about resilience since my recovery, as I go through my days as a school counselor and my nights as a wife and a mom. How do we help the next generation become resilient and bounce back from failures, disappointments and trauma? How did we, as caregivers, develop that skill? Is it as easy as a positive reframe or thought-switching or is it more complicated than that? Are there seven simple steps? Or, like a fine wine or cheese, does it take time and get better with age?

I don't have a single answer to any of that in the midst of those
 startle-response anxiety attacks of my own.

And earlier this week, when a second grader came to me for help, I'm not sure that I had any answers for her, either.
But I invited her in, to offer her a safe place 
to emote,
to process,
to start to heal.
She was feeling sad because her little world has been rocked.
More like an earthquake.
A heart-on collision, of sorts.
Her family, she told me, is getting a divorce.
And that feels .... ?
{Really? Is that all I've got?}
But that's where we start, with feelings identification.
Anything else?
So I share that my family got divorced and what happened next was adorable, because she asked me how I felt about that.
Then I spent what felt like an hour explaining to a 7 year old what relieved means and why I felt relieved about my family's divorce.
More crickets.
I'm learning that quiet is okay.
Because that's when the reflection usually happens.
And that's when the learning occurs.

That's when she asked if she could write a question on my chalkboard.
And that's when she wrote this.

We took turns adding to this list of some stuff that might help:
Hugs, Pets, Prayers, Humor, Music, Time, 
Making Mistakes, Journaling, Crying, Talking, Exercising.

Then I consulted the experts, for more ideas on developing resilience. 
Here's what I found:

Maybe we ought to add singing to our list.
Belt it out with me: The sun'll come out ... tomorrow ... 


  1. Sometimes I wonder if those scary moments that take us back to the traumatic event are God's way of reminding us to appreciate all of the moments in between when we did start to feel safe; and that there's hope of getting back - and beyond - that point again. I love your student's question...a precious heart seeking to feel happy again. Don't we all want that? <3

    1. Yes, Tanya, I believe you're right. To remember. And appreciate! Thank you for stopping by. Today certainly was a brighter day.


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