Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, the day we reflect on the “seven daggers” that pierced Our Lady’s heart. Namely,
- The Prophecy of Simeon. (Luke 2:34–35) or the Circumcision of Christ
- The Flight into Egypt. (Matthew 2:13)
- The loss of the child Jesus in the Temple. (Luke 2:43–45)
- Mary meets Jesus on the way to Calvary.
- Jesus dies on the cross. (John 19:25)
- The piercing of the side of Jesus, and Mary’s receiving the body of Jesus in her arms. (Matthew 27:57–59)
- The body of Jesus is placed in the tomb. (John 19:40–42)
This day is really an opportunity to reflect on the Blessed Mother’s ability to persevere in the power of faith; to remain steadfast in the face of the challenges she encountered in her life.
Her faithfulness is an example to all of us when we face adversity. Resilience is what psychologists refer to as the ability to bounce back from hard times and to persevere despite the challenges we face. In addition to turning to God in prayer when we are struggling, here are 10 things you can do to cultivate resilience in your life.
1. Make connections.
Good relationships with close family members, friends, or others are important. Accepting help and support from those who care about you and will listen to you strengthens resilience. Some people find that being active in civic groups, faith-based organizations, or other local groups provides social support and can help with reclaiming hope. Assisting others in their time of need also can benefit the helper.
2. Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems.
You can’t change the fact that highly stressful events happen, but you can change how you interpret and respond to these events. Try looking beyond the present to how future circumstances may be a little better. Note any subtle ways in which you might already feel somewhat better as you deal with difficult situations.
3. Accept that change is a part of living. Certain goals may no longer be attainable as a result of adverse situations. Accepting circumstances that cannot be changed can help you focus on circumstances that you can alter.
4. Move toward your goals. Develop some realistic goals. Do something regularly — even if it seems like a small accomplishment — that enables you to move toward your goals. Instead of focusing on tasks that seem unachievable, ask yourself, “What’s one thing I know I can accomplish today that helps me move in the direction I want to go?”
5. Take decisive actions. Act on adverse situations as much as you can. Take decisive actions, rather than detaching completely from problems and stresses and wishing they would just go away.
6. Look for opportunities for self-discovery. People often learn something about themselves and may find that they have grown in some respect as a result of their struggle with loss. Many people who have experienced tragedies and hardship have reported better relationships, greater sense of strength even while feeling vulnerable, increased sense of self-worth, a more developed spirituality, and heightened appreciation for life.
7. Nurture a positive view of yourself. Developing confidence in your ability to solve problems and trusting your instincts helps build resilience.
8. Keep things in perspective. Even when facing very painful events, try to consider the stressful situation in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective. Avoid blowing the event out of proportion.
9. Maintain a hopeful outlook. An optimistic outlook enables you to expect that good things will happen in your life. Try visualizing what you want, rather than worrying about what you fear.
10. Take care of yourself. Pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Engage in activities that you enjoy and find relaxing. Exercise regularly. Taking care of yourself helps to keep your mind and body primed to deal with situations that require resilience.
Additional ways of strengthening resilience may be helpful. For example, some people write about their deepest thoughts and feelings related to trauma or other stressful events in their life. Meditation and spiritual practices help some people build connections and restore hope.
The key is to identify ways that are likely to work well for you as part of your own personal strategy for fostering resilience.
To learn more about developing your capacity to bounce back in hard times, please check out God Help Me, This STRESS is Driving Me Crazy! Finding Balance Through God’s Grace.