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Resilience – Remaining Rooted and Grounded

Resilience – Remaining Rooted and Grounded

The old oak tree is swaying in the wind, being whipped on both sides by torrential rain and high winds as storm Eunice passes by my window.  I am safe inside, warm and look to see if the old oak and the other trees in the garden remain upright and rooted firm.  I am reminded that we are soon coming up to the two years anniversary when the world was turned upside down and life went into ‘pandemic’ mode. During those two years I have turned to the wonders of Zoom and other video platforms to connect with my mentees and have reflected on the resilience that we have all had to tap into in order to ride the storm.

A helpful phrase during the early weeks of the pandemic in March 2020 was this: “We are all in the same storm but not necessarily in the same boat”. I hasten to say that we have all had to tap into our inner most being and find those things that have helped us to be resilient. Some have come out of the ‘storm’ unscathed, others tired and exhausted, others, like myself who have shielded for almost 20 months, feeling anxious and fearful, making small steps in reconnecting with others again.

What is Resilience?

Psychologists define resilience as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress—such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and financial stressors.

Psychological resilience is the ability to mentally or emotionally cope with a crisis or to return to pre-crisis status quickly. Resilience exists when the person uses “mental processes and behaviours in promoting personal assets and protecting self from the potential negative effects of stressors

The Oxford Dictionary definition of resilience states it is ‘the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness’ and is also ‘the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity’.

The young people I have mentored over the pandemic have shown immense resilience over the passing months.  Yes, some have faltered, taking two steps back and one forward so to speak, others having their ‘duvet moments’ of wishing the world would go away and retreating behind the warmth of their duvet.  Yet above all they have found an inner strength and moved forward on their journey.

I am reminded of the strong woman in the Bible – Esther, who was raised up ‘for such a time as this’.  Esther was unsure of the situation she was moving into but trusted in her uncle and in God for the way forward.

Dr Ginsburg, child paediatrician and human development expert, proposes that there are seven integral and interrelated components that make up being resilient – competence, confidence, connection, character, contribution, coping and control.

There are many go to activities that help people move forward in times of trials.  Often in mentoring session with young people conversations flow whilst we are doodling on a piece of paper or colouring in a mindfulness colouring book.  Talking over and reflecting on areas of concern, listening and encouraging the steps forward.

Developing a mantra of self-worth and self-value has also been key in establishing good mental wellbeing.   Sometimes when things or work seem to be getting too much I’ve found it helpful to visualize dropping off the workload / worries at a designated spot or locking them away in a cupboard.  Picturing leaving them there and picking them up again in the morning. Encouraging a strategy of being kind to yourself, not being too hard on yourself when things seem to be spiralling out of control.

Resilience is also the ability to develop new skills and grow in confidence and self-efficacy through successful encounters with challenge.

In their helpful book, ‘Finding your strength in God’*, Tony Horsfall and Debbie Hawker encourage us to develop our resilience and to prepare ourselves for the challenges that life throws at us in an increasingly difficult world. Through biblical wisdom and psychological insight, they show how we can understand ourselves better, appreciate our areas of strength and strengthen our areas of weakness.

When things seem to be out of control, spiralling down, I remind my mentees of a five step simple exercise that helps to bring them back to reality, helping them to focus and feel good about themselves.  It’s called grounding and is a useful tool to help move anyone on who is feeling overwhelmed.

Grounding – five steps:   “I look around to find

  • 5 things I can see
  • 4 things I can touch
  • 3 things I can hear
  • 2 things I can smell
  • And 1 thing I can taste”

Giving people techniques and exercises that can help them resist the times of battering, anxiety and stress only helps to build up their self-actualisation and awareness that they can be resilient.

As Christian Mentors it is a privilege to be able to bring God into the mentoring sessions.  Our sessions are not only involving Mentor and Mentee we can discern and listen to the voice of God, calling upon Him in the quietness and times of prayer.

There is a wealth of Biblical verses** that can offer hope and self-worth to help build up resilience not only in our Mentees but in ourselves as well.  I am reminded of singing the old Boys Brigade hymn ‘Will your anchor hold in the storms of life, when the clouds unfold their wings of strife? 

We have an anchor that keeps the soul

Steadfast and sure while the billows roll,

Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,

 Grounded firm and deep in the Saviour’s love.

Will your anchor hold in the storms of life. Lyrics: Priscilla Jane Owens (1829-1907) Music: William James Kirkpatrick (1838-1921)

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain.”  (Hebrews 6:19).  Helping our Mentees to become resilient is helping them to move on in strength, knowing that they are able to take a step at a time to move forward in the realisation that they have been resilient in the past and can tap into that knowledge to help themselves to navigate through the next time when they need to tap into their inner resilience and know that they will come through, maybe battered and scarred but they have taken a step of positivity for themselves and moved themselves on.  As society would colloquially say ‘bounced back’… but as Mentors we know that our Mentees have come far to conquer and move forward in their resilience.

References  & Further Reading

*Resilience in Life and Faith: Finding your strength in God     ISBN     9780857467348 (BRF March 2019)

**Biblical Verses:

Philippians 4:13 I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.

Ephesians 6:10-14 Finally, be strong in the Lord, relying on his mighty strength. Put on the whole armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm

Ephesians 5:19-20 by reciting psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs for your own good. Sing and make music to the Lord with your hearts. Always thank God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Joshua 1:9 I repeat, be strong and brave! Don’t be afraid and don’t panic, for I, the LORD your God, am with you in all you do.

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.

Psalm 62:8 Trust in him at all times, you people! Pour out your hearts before him! God is our shelter!

Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God. And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you–this is the LORD’s declaration–plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

Caroline Hutchings is a County Ecumenical Development Officer for Churches Together in Northampton, Peterborough & Rutland (Shire & Soke). She is a trained Methodist Local Preacher and also works as part of the Chaplaincy Team at the University and College in Peterborough. Caroline has a passion for Mentoring and currently Mentors in schools through the work of CROPS (Christian Outreach in Peterborough Schools). Mentoring young refugees, homeless and rough sleepers in the City of Peterborough. She has worked in a variety of roles incorporating Mental Health and Wellbeing and Human Resources training and development. She is a professionally accredited Senior Practitioner Mentor/Coach with the European Mentoring and Coaching Council, (EMCC). She is a qualified Personnel Manager and Youth Worker and is a Youth Mental Health first aider.

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