The Humanness of Resilience


Putting it simply, exploring the 4Ps of resilience

Resilience – an overly used and often times, misunderstood word. So, what does resilience really mean?

Resilience can only be understood by going through challenging times and emerging from them. Resilience can only be understood when one keeps on keeping on, even when things seem hard to carry on. Resilience can only be understood when you feel like you’re the only one left standing, or sinking in most cases, and there’s nobody else beside you to help you out.

In essence, resilience can only be defined when one discovers it for oneself, hence, the humanness of resilience. It is real, it is experienced, it can be felt, it evokes emotions, it gets lonely and it can be physical, too. However, when all is said and done, and even as the flesh becomes weak and weaker, that’s when the humanness of resilience kicks in. The grit, the tenacity, the “I’ve gotta keep going”, the mindset shifts and the “me becomes the we”, thinking about/for others, and the “what ifs”.

Being a bereaved mother and a relapsed breast cancer survivor, resilience becomes really real to me. It seems like there’s no other option for me but to keep going on. Departing from this world would certainly be the easier path of no more pain, worries and physical challenges, however, my time in this world is truly not up to me, as I’ve discovered, that there’s a greater calling called “purpose” in this jigsaw puzzle life of mine.

And so, here are my thoughts about the humanness of resilience, which I will use the 4Ps to elaborate.

1.      Positivity

There’re only 2 ways of approaching adversities and setbacks in life; positively or negatively, regardless, we still need to go through them since there are many things beyond our direct control (or prediction, if I may use this word) e.g. sickness, pandemics, economic factors. I’ve learned to choose the positive way of looking at things.

For example, my encounters with breast cancer treatment have been an “experience” for me – not fun at all, but thankfully, manageable. I know that I’ll never be 100% again like how I was before illness came to me, but I do know that I can function as best as I can whether I’m 20%, 50% or 80% functioning, and if I gave 200% of my 50%, I might even perform better than how I was in the past.

 2.      People

Although we often say, “It’s my life”, or “I can do what I want with my life”, truly our lives don’t belong to us. Why do I say that? This is because whatever we do or say, it’ll directly or indirectly affect another person in one way or another.

So why do I keep fighting on and living life as “normally” as I can? This is because it’ll ultimately affect the people around me and especially those whom I love most – my family. So, I keep going, keep fighting. That’s resilience. Knowing that my being matters to those I love most, and I want to spend as much time with them, creating fond and happy memories of being together. The shift from “Me” becomes to “We” in all my considerations.

 3.      Purpose

My time’s not up yet, and therefore there’s still a purpose here for me on earth. Losing a child to illness, and being a cancer patient, certainly triggers one to think of a temporal life here. My term here is to count my days backwards now, and making sure that my days count, too.

There’re always opportunities to make a difference to someone and somewhere. Just take a small step to try it out, listen to your heart soft promptings, what do you enjoy reading, watching or doing, that could be an avenue where your purpose is. Take a small step forward, and before you know it, it’ll send frequencies of great impact all over.

 4.      Plan

So, with the purpose, the positive energy, and the people around you, a simple creative plan is all that is left. As it is commonly said, “plan your move then move your plan”. Ask yourself, “What simple and creative steps can I take? “Who are the people I can talk to?” “What are the outcomes that I hope to see?” “What else do I need to support my plan?” “What drives me to start?” “How can I remind myself to keep on keeping on?” “What is the timeframe?” and so on. Do have a physical plan that you can see, track and review, so that you’re more likely to keep at it, and review/renew your purpose and steps.

And so, this is the humanness of resilience. To me, it’s about renewing your mind, recharging yourself and then rediscovering that there is life even with setbacks and challenges in your journey. It’s just the different lens that we see things through.

At the end of the day, there’s always someone else better or worse than we are, and it is the ability to be contented, count our blessings, be in the present, work towards being the best versions of ourselves, live for those whom we love most, and to collect fond and happy memories that will carry us through these tough times.

Now, that’s the humanness of resilience.

Josephine PL Ong


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