Who am I and Why Resilience?

Boats docked on the South Portland side of Casco Bay Maine.

As Building Resilience embarks on our newest journey, I think about both where we are going and from whence we came. I see that my experiences with adversity and uncertainty have led me to where I am today. I learned the Skills & Attitudes of resilience by exposure to much adversity both personally and professionally. And though I have no regrets regarding my journey for it has made me who I am today…there are easier ways to learn.

Here is what I have learned from my journey.

  • Systems are and will continue to be broken as long as they are underfunded, the staff is under-supported, and bureaucrats call the shots without vital knowledge of their inner workings. The best one can do is teach clients to manage some of the personal adversity that leads them to the system in the first place and how to survive that which is at times, unintentionally caused by the system and its flaws.
  • Empathy brings with it additional challenges. But is not a bad quality. It offers insight into the needs of those facing some of the most intense situations. An empathic connection often leads toward a solution.  Managing the related emotions, however, is key if empathy is to serve as a tool in understanding and defining the problem to be solved. Embrace empathy and work with it.
  • Humor offers relief from the intensity of adversity. I remember the exact moment during a crisis that I actually laughed when a co-worker joked appropriately about the irony of a very tough situation. When I was done laughing, I felt cleansed and ready to move forward. It was the best feeling. Nobody was harmed nor offended by it. We shared a moment of relief. Turns out it’s a great tool for managing adversity.
  • Never let the role you play at work be the role you play at home. Home is a place of solace. It needs to be the soft place you land at the end of each day. Don’t enter into relationships because they are familiar and you feel you have the skills to handle it. Family is to be loved not “handled”. Care for yourself. Surround yourself with adults with whom you share a mutually supportive relationship and teach your children to be resilient and manage the inevitable adversities of life.

Some, if not all, of the ten Skills & Attitudes of resilience, can be applied to any challenge. In retrospect, I see how they could have been applied throughout my life as a tool to manage what at times seemed unmanageable. They have now been incorporated into my response repertoire. I only wish that I had learned those that I lacked at an earlier age.

Building resilience Skills & Attitudes is applicable to both personal and occupational life whether you are ten and school is the challenge or age seventy-eight and loss is the challenge. Resilience is not an innate gift nor is it difficult to learn. It’s really quite simple. It just takes practice. Life is fraught with challenges and the ten Skills & Attitudes of resilience truly are “Survival Skills for the 21st. Century”.

Photo of Charlene Fernald Moynihan
Charlene Fernald Moynihan