Resilience is a word that is tossed around a lot when recovery from an illness is discussed. Resilience is a wonderful quality to have and depending on what your life has put you through up to this point, you may have developed a strong sense of resilience. For some, resilience needs to be learned and cultivated. What I would like to talk about today is that while resilience can be a helpful tool in managing, fighting and recovering from an illness like IBS, resilience alone will not get the job done.

Internal support team

Anyone ever heard the term ‘white-knuckling it’?. This refers to the fact that you are trying to accomplish something by pure strength of will and resilience. This is not necessarily a healthy way to do things. We are human and as with all humans, we have a breaking point. Without having other qualities to support and aid the strength and resilience, we are often left crumpled up on the floor. Frustrated and angry that we were not ‘strong’ enough to weather the storm. What other qualities are important to have to support resilience? Self-awareness is an important one. Self-awareness allows us to take a good, hard, honest look at what we are doing well with and what we are struggling with. With this knowledge in hand you can make adjustments to your recovery/illness management regimen. So, already with self-awareness and resilience working together, we’ve got the start of a pretty good internal support team. Who else might we want on the team?

Commitment. Commitment is not the same as resilience. Commitment and dedication indicate that you have accepted your plight and have resolved to see the task through. We may have lapses in our commitment, but this is all part of the battle. Because of my particular spiritual beliefs, I would need to add compassion and empathy to our team of support. Compassion for yourself and those around you will provide a different type of strength than the resilient, tough guy/gal approach. You will gain strength from a positive outlook and a deeper understanding and acceptance of your world. Empathy is another strong quality. We are more easily able to accept our circumstances when we look outside ourselves and experience the struggles that other people go through. This helps us to feel, well, not quite so alone.

More than just resilience

We could make a list a mile long of human attributes that can help support you along your journey through illness. Patience, responsibility, self-acceptance, hopefulness, joy, respect and self-advocacy among many, many others. So let’s look at the team we’ve built up. Instead of just relying on resilience and strength, we have added commitment, dedication, compassion, empathy, self-awareness and the choice of whatever other qualities you feel are important for your support. You gotta have a lot of tools in the box to get on the good path to recovery from illness. If you just try to use a hammer to build a house…you’ll be living outdoors for quite a while.

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