The following is adapted from Your Real Life.
Being authentic means being true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character, and resilience is being able to adapt well to and take back control from adversity, trauma, and significant sources of stress. So if you’re authentically resilient, you’re in your own skin, dealing with challenges the way that you do. And that is a magic power.
When you can turn on this power, regain control, and get back to your core values, strengths, and purpose, you can use those things to get over anything that you encounter in your life.
Here’s what a real, authentically resilient person looks like:
They can pretty much face anything.
They understand their boundaries, and they usually have a plan to get through tough times.
They usually know how to focus their energy.
They’re confident in the things that they pursue as a result of having gotten over adversities in their own life.
And they’re not afraid to face those things—they’re less inhibited by fear.
An authentically resilient person is more open to freedom and less controlled by worry. This person is better balanced in their energy and their well-being, because they know themselves inside-out and outside-in.
You might be wondering what I mean by “authentic resilience.” Let’s start by defining the terms.
When I talk about authenticity, I’m talking about being true to yourself. Specifically, being true to your own personality, spirit, or character. Authenticity draws on the deeper set of your core beliefs, values, and strengths that you develop over your lifetime; it’s an actualization of those things manifesting in your behavior.
Rather than a trait, think of it as a process—a journey to understand yourself down to the core. Authenticity comes from deep within yourself; it’s an understanding that works from the inside outward.
Think of the popular iceberg analogy. If your authenticity as a whole is an iceberg, then the massive chunk of ice people can see above the waterline is your behavior: actions, words, expressions, and body language. The ice beneath the surface represents your core values and beliefs, the ways you think and feel, and your strengths and philosophies. These aspects of you that people can’t see are the pieces you need to understand to activate your authenticity from the inside outward.
But again, authenticity is refined over a lifetime. Just as much as it’s an inside-outward journey, it’s also a journey from outside inward. Our reactions to things outside ourselves in life—whether it be positive experiences or adversities—ultimately leads us to develop these inner strengths, ways of thinking, values, thoughts, feelings, and all the other inner components of the authenticity iceberg. It’s a cycle of evolution. Both authenticity and resilience evolve from this cyclical pulsation of learning and adapting.
My definition of resilience is the ability to adapt well to adversity, which can come in the forms of trauma, tragedy, threats, and other significant sources of stress. Resilience is how you process, react to, adapt to, and cope with challenges in your daily life. Simply, it is the art of taking back control from an adversity and learning from that experience—not allowing the adversity to dominate you, but rather, gaining dominance over the circumstances of that adversity and those that follow.
Many people mistake resilience for endurance and perseverance. While these can be important parts of the process of building resilience, they’re by no means the same thing. Perseverance is the ability to continue working at something, never losing sight of the goal in the face of obstacles. Endurance is being able to keep going at something for long periods of time.
These are very different from resilience (being able to adapt and learn from events, and from using that learning to cope in the next instance and the one after that). These traits are more like cousins than different sides of the same coin.
Another distinction I want to make is between resilience and numbness. Becoming numb in response to adversity can be part of building resilience in some situations (mainly in the “freeze” response triggered in the brain by the amygdala). However, this should not be conflated with long-term numbness. This is usually an indicator that something in the psyche needs to be looked at and addressed. Therefore, numbness is not another cousin to resilience.
Building Authentic Resilience
We learn resilience the same way we learn most things: by observing as children. We watch people around us in our families and communities and learn from the environment that we live in. In modern culture, many young people also learn resilience skills from figures in pop culture and media.
The important thing to remember is that building resilience takes time. It takes work, building up strength, and repeating resilience habits over and over again to wire (or unwire) those neurotransmitters in your brain until what you’ve learned has become so embedded that it becomes second nature.
Resilience and authenticity are embedded from every experience we live through. So if you want to hijack those patterns and rewire your brain to be more resilient and authentic, you have to undo that previously embedded learning—undo those synapses and break those neurotransmitters in order to rebuild in a new way.
When you hone in your power and become authentically resilient, you can live your best life and get over troubles you encounter in a way that benefits your entire well-being.
For more advice on practicing authenticity, you can find Your Real Life on Amazon.