Resilience is the power or ability to recover readily from illness, depression, or adversity. It is the ability to bounce back after experiencing tragedy or loss.
Most of the Ten Sentiments relate to making a decision in your mind to apply one of its virtues to overcome adversity. What sets resilience apart from the other virtues is that it includes the involvement of other people in your life.
Resilience involves relationships and openness. People who are resilient depend on others in a healthy way. They communicate their inmost thoughts and feelings – good or bad – and seek help in dealing with troubling thoughts. As is share my hardship with others, I can be encouraged to be resilient in the face of adversity.
I think the best examples of resilience are found in those men and women who serve in the military. Soldiers in combat see the most horrible things. Perhaps the worst thing a Soldier can see, is the death of a ‘battle buddy’. Although Soldiers aren’t physical brothers and sisters, when they go through hard times together, they can develop bonds between them that are stronger than with their own blood relatives. Many times we hear of Soldiers who are injured in combat and how desperately they want to get back to their units to be with their buddies. Why? They love one another and would literally die for each other.
I have experienced this myself during my time in the Army. Specifically, while deployed during Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom. We lived in some horrible conditions in the deserts of Saudi Arabia and Iraq. We’d joke that our living conditions were unfit for criminals imprisoned in the United States. But that was how we dealt with those terrible conditions, we helped each other laugh and remember this suffering was only temporary. We’d recall the good times and look forward to going home.
When a Soldier experiences the death of a buddy, it is devastating. No training can prepare you for that. I’ve never experienced such a loss and I never want to. The Army has experienced high numbers of suicides in recent years. Some were a result of losing a ‘battle buddy’ coupled with the inability to be resilient. I am convinced that if these Soldiers had someone they felt comfortable to talk with about their feelings, they would be with us today. Frankly, I hate to admit it, but there is a stigma in the military about seeking help for mental health issues, but the military is trying to remove that stigma.
My wife helps me to be resilient. I can be open with my feelings with her because I know she cares about me. I know she has my back and wants the best for me. She is compassionate, understanding, and above all, patient. I think that is what I need most, her patience. I have good days and bad days. I can’t do all the activities we used to do, but she doesn’t make me feel guilty about that. She understand me, and I think that is something we all need.
The virtue of resilience has helped me overcome being afraid of asking people for help or needing a caregiver. Getting help is not a sign of weakness, it is acknowledging my need for other people in my life and a part of being human. We all need a little help some time, even Soldiers.