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Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Another “R”


When You’re Going Through Hell, Keep Going – Winston Churchill

It is said that in school they teach you the three “Rs”- reading, writing and arithmetic, but there is another “R” that we’ve all be studying, whether we like it or not, and that is resilience. And for many of us this, may be the most important class we will ever take.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines resilience as “the ability to be happy, successful, etc. again after something difficult or bad has happened" or “the ability of a substance to return to its usual shape after being bent, stretched, or pressed."

I don’t know about you but for nearly a year since the pandemic gripped us, I’ve been feeling a bit bent, stretched and pressed, and I bet many of you are too. 


To borrow from Charles Dickens, this time has not been the “best of times.” Unless you are detached from reality, I’m guessing that you and everyone you know has suffered something this past year, be it the postponement of a special event like a wedding, the loss of a loved one or maybe a job or income, the ability to travel at will, freedom to breathe without a face covering, or maybe a way of life or an enormous amount of anxiety over what our future holds.

So, how do we spring back from all of this? According to a 2018 Psychology Today article, called “Resilience 101,” one of the most important things you can do when enduring or trying to spring back from a difficulty is to check your negative thought patterns. Are you hearing your mind repeating things like: I can’t take this much longer! This is never going to get better. What’s going to happen now?

You need to stop this. As I have mentioned in past columns, that when I was in my thirties, I suffered with an anxiety disorder and panic attacks, and one of the best books that helped me get my negative thoughts under control was Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy by Dr. David Burns. The book teaches you to pay attention to what you are thinking and put the lie to them because you, essentially, are what you think. Therefore, if your mind is polluted with “stinkin thinkin,” you are going to be miserable. And don’t forget there is a mind-body-spirit connection.

If your thinking is negative, it affects your health and your spirit. It is a difficult task to rein in your thoughts, but there are some things you can do help. The first is to take good care of yourself—eat well, get out in the sun if we get a sunny day, exercise and get sleep. When you are tired, everything goes out of whack.

Spiritually, pray, meditate, and take time to be quiet, which is exceedingly harder to do these days with cell phones and all of us being cooped up together.

Also, reflect on your past, you’ve been an overcomer before, and you can do it again. Maybe you were cut from a team in high school, or maybe you lost a job or loved one. Maybe you failed at school or in business. No one escapes an education from the school of hard knocks. If you’ve made it this far, you can keep on going!

Finally, and most importantly, if you are really struggling, seek help. It may be as simple as just telling someone how you are feeling that will lighten your load, or maybe you need some professional help. 

There’s no shame in that. Smart people admit it when they need help. And I’ll clue you in on something: You are not alone. When I finally revealed that I was terribly worried and suffering from panic attacks, nearly everyone I told either revealed that they had felt that way sometime in their life or had someone in their immediate family struggling too. 

So, though we’ve all been tested this year, there is hope. Nothing bad lasts forever. One of my favorites quotes is: The Lowest Ebb is the Turning of the Tide. Here’s looking forward to that tide changing soon and all of us riding a wave of good times and fortunes and coming back better, stronger and wiser than ever.  


This article originally appeared in the February 2021 issue of Northern Connection magazine.