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How to Strengthen Your Resilience

The older I get, the more I realize that life isn’t getting simpler as we age—it’s getting more complicated. And the single most important quality we need to develop in order to cope with all these complexities is resilience.

Dr. Beth Miller, author of The Woman’s Book of Resilience: 12 Qualities to Cultivate, recently spoke to the GaGa Sisterhood on how to strengthen our resilience. She explained the qualities to cultivate and how to use them to become more resilient. Ironically, the process begins and ends by making friends with our vulnerability and being willing to accept things as they are.

Beth recommends we strengthen our flexibility muscles during calm times rather than in the middle of or the aftermath of a crisis.

As grandmas, we know how challenging it can be to face our vulnerabilities — our failures, our mistakes, our lack of control over events and other people. Beth suggests that if we look at it as an “art form,” we’ll have an easier time apologizing, letting go of what’s not working, and facing change with an open heart and mind.

In our discussion, Beth encouraged us to have patience and compassion with ourselves and to remember that our strength lies in our flexibility. Resilience gives us a bigger perspective and allows us to become aware of creative and kind solutions—a way of being that is open and responsive to all sorts of possibilities.

What is Resilience

Isn’t it interesting that as we age and our skin becomes thinner, we actually need to develop thicker skin so we can deal with our grandma challenges? Resilience is that “thicker skin,” — an emotional or spiritual something in us that no matter what happens, we can bounce back.

After listening to Beth, I think of resilience as paradoxical. In order to build resilience, we must first be vulnerable. Vulnerability is at the center of the “wheel of resilience,” a diagram from Beth’s book which shows all 12 qualities of resilience.

We’re all born with resilience but some of us have had it crushed out after too many blows. But there’s good news: you can build resilience just like any other muscle or skill when you make a conscious effort.

Qualities of a Resilient Grandma

The qualities of a resilient grandma include an ability to:

  • navigate the difficulties in your life, from losing someone you love, to not seeing your family often enough
  • find your way through conflicts with your grandchild’s parents
  • recognize you’re not in charge of your grandchild’s upbringing
  • face your disappointments through the same love you feel when your grandchild kisses your cheek, tells you you’re the greatest, and snuggles up to you before bedtime

A resilient grandma finds that thread of love in her life that gives her a bigger perspective and allows her to become aware of creative and kind solutions — a way of being that is open and responsive to all sorts of possibilities.

We can build our resilience by learning to be open-hearted, forgiving, vulnerable, and most importantly, developing a sense of humor to help during stressful situations. Knowing that much of our distress about life’s hard times is the interpretation and perception we bring to it, humor and a comic way of looking at things offer us many resilient qualities for coping.

Perhaps the best source of humor comes from our grandchildren. How blessed we are to have them in our lives to add that lightness and joy we need to build our resilience.

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