The Resiliency Quotient
“Life is not for chickens” one of my friends said to me, shaking his head, as he listened to the litany of my recent 18 months. “You are the most resilient person I have ever known.” These words gave me a moment to pause and reflect.
Am I truly resilient? Do I deal with life’s blows and power on, or am I a crumbling, tearful wreck behind closed doors, just putting on a brave face to the world? As I tuned into the real knowing inside me, I sensed — yes, I bounce back!
I deal with crisis in phases: I go into shock, cry, disregard it, get angry, then finally accept the card I was dealt, think logically and creatively, set a goal and work my way forward with intention. I envision myself 100% strong, healthy, glowing and energized. Then, I put it all behind me and look ahead to a better, brighter, more exciting role or place I want to be enjoying. Soon, my ambition and enthusiasm replace the sorrow and overwhelming upset, and sometimes I even get inspired to leap ahead and do something grand that helps others or changes my life grid all together.
Am I a fluke? No. The science of epigenetic medicine says survivors all visualize themselves down the line — especially when in wars or chemotherapy trials or after being decimated by natural disasters — in a better place. They typically see themselves happy and united with loved ones in their future.
Instead of crumbling to the immediacy of their rightfully fearful or sorrowful feelings, they move through them and beyond to a better tomorrow. The moment of turmoil is not grasped too tightly, but more or less stepped over in the moment, to be returned to when life returns to normal and they can process it. Survivors activate the powerful mind-body-spirit mechanisms we all carry, which turn on brain endorphin production, elevate adrenalin release and stimulate the immune system.
According to Dawson Church, author of The Genie In Your Genes and a leader in the EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) movement, we all carry a gene set that can be activated to help us become resilient and thrive in spite of disastrous life calamities.
“Some families exhibit a natural tendency to pull themselves through near death and catastrophic crisis,” says Church. “In these instances, whether by example or through pure DNA genetic predispositions, we see a small percentage of people overcome the most extreme adversities and not crumble or get locked into bereavement, illness, phobias from trauma, while conversely, many will. The fact is we can all turn on this resiliency gene set.”
My immigrant Greek grandfather left home at age 11 with his 13-year-old brother. They slept on warehouse tabletops in Romania for five years as they packed potatoes and sent their money back home to their widowed mother and younger siblings. As street urchins they lived rugged lives, emigrated to New York City, and worked 12 hour shifts shoveling coal into the big burbling furnaces of the St. Regis Hotel. They went on to become food market owners and live into their late 90s.
My father was left for dead in the World War II jungles of the Philippines, survived a hellacious car wreck, and then 20 years later suffered 18 sudden pulmonary embolisms post-op to be declared dead, and yet make the decision to come back to life.
My own ten-year battle with misdiagnosed chronic Lyme disease left me bedridden for three years. I lost all the American emblems of success — career and income, marriage and home, health and well-being. Emotionally, physically and spiritually broken, death knocked on my door too many frightening times. With my 80-year-old veteran father coaching me, I chose to live. I embraced a thorough process of self visualizations, prayer, positive thinking, and willing myself to live long enough to see my then 8-year-old son become a man of 18. Today he is 19 years old and I am 100% recovered for the past six years.
My resiliency quotient is not unique. To bounce back and live the life you desire requires inner mental work and dedication to yourself and becoming aware of your patterns. Psychologists have found certain attitudes and actions to be effective in encouraging greater emotional resiliency.
Accept responsibility for your life and actions. Some events are out of your control, but you can influence the emotional outcome.
Think positively. If you are struggling with this, just saying the words “everything will work out fine” over and over is a good place to start.
Teach yourself to accept change. Rearrange your furniture or buy some clothing of different colors than your usual wardrobe. In accepting change during a low stress time, you can better adjust when an unexpected change does occur.
Develop your self-confidence. Learning a new skill is the simplest way to do this. Take sketching classes, learn yoga, train for a 10K race.
Be true to yourself by practicing authenticity. Facades end up limiting you severely in the end. Many people experience anxiety during this sort of self-discovery process. You may want to see a therapist or counselor for emotional support and confirmation of your blossoming self-identity during this journey.
Connect with your inner faith. Prayer, meditation, walks in the woods and community service are all ways to tune in with your personal power and inner beliefs. Teach these things to your children as well.
While help in the form of health care practitioners, therapists, medications or nutritional changes maybe useful supports to a struggling body in need, the greatest potential for lasting well-being lies in the power of the mind, the calling of your heart and the will to make your life your own. These are tools you are born with, which must be honed. Practicing gratitude and honoring both your ancestors and those near and dear as your allies will help you as you build your beliefs into your beautiful tomorrow.
Katina Makris, CCH, CIH, has worked in natural health care for over 30 years. A popular host of LymeLight Radio, Katina teaches internationally on topics including Lyme, autoimmune diseases, and integrative medicine. Her most recent book is Autoimmune Illness & Lyme Recovery Guide: Mending Body, Mind and Spirit. Visit www.katinamakris.com.