Chronic pain is one of the biggest challenges anyone can face. It’s hardly ever a smooth ride out of pain. To cope with the ups and downs (and to emerge pain-free at the end) it’s important to learn how can you be resilient. That way you’ll always carry on from a setback, and never give up until you succeed.
There are several things you can do to help you build your resilience. The first is to journal. Journalling is very powerful. It takes what’s inside you out on the paper. It helps you put things in perspective.
Journalling means you can chart your progress. The journey out of chronic pain comes with many little improvements. You need to keep asking: “What’s the one thing that I can do today that will bring me closer to my goal.”
When you’ve been in pain for a while, if you always look at your distant goal, it’s easy to think “I’m getting nowhere” and be disheartened. With journaling, you can track your progress and see how far you’ve come. This is why journaling is very valuable and builds resilience.
A researcher by the name of Steven Southwick did a meta-analysis of studies on how can you be resilient. He came up with five key things that increase resilience. Here they are:
#1 Optimism and a sense of humor. Because if you can laugh in the face of whatever is challenging you, you are being resilient.
#2 is Social support and the ability to reach out. When a difficult situation occurs, it is resilient behavior to share it and reach out to people. This way you don’t feel alone and you get other people’s perspective which is incredibly valuable.
#3 is Cognitive Flexibility. This is to be flexible and bed like the willow in the snow, rather than rigidly resist and break like the oak. Whatever hits you, you move, adjust and come back stronger.
#4 is to be Active.If you want to be resilient you must take action in the face of adversity. Resilient people are never paralysed or rendered immobile by a tough situation. They always do something. Even when they don’t have the perfect solution, they still act.
#5 is spirituality. Having a spiritual or faith dimension to your life builds resilience. This doesn’t have to be religious (though it can be.) Simply the faith that there is some providence in the universe, and you are not alone greatly increases resilience.
So those are the five elements that build resilience. These came from a meta-analysis of several large evidence-based studies.
There’s one other important thing to do: think back to the last time you were resilient.
As human beings, resilience is our birthright. We are resilient. That’s why we are where we are in evolutionary terms. Now think back to the last time you were resilient. Go over what you did. And know that if you’ve been resilient in the past, you can do it again.