The Steep Price For Perseverance, Resiliency & Peace Of Mind. But it’s Worth Every Compelling Effort.

By Nathan Nelson For USMilitary.com

Resilience is an important quality for every person to develop for their lives. Regardless of your profession, it is inevitable that unexpected negative events in life will happen and will have a catastrophic effect if you don’t develop resilience and perseverance. However, if you regularly focus on the important areas in your life that promote resilience you are much more likely to recover quickly when the unexpected happens.

In this article, I will discuss several elements of resilience and how each element had a positive impact to help me survive my catastrophic injury. I will draw on all the elements the military promotes to include physical, mental, social, family, and spiritual.

Taking Good Care Of Your Body Beginning Now.
Physical resiliency is tremendously important regardless of how active your life is or what profession you have.

A proper diet and frequent exercise that includes strength training, stretching, and cardiovascular fitness prevents frequent injuries and wards off disease. The medical evidence to support this abounds to such a degree that it is not even worth providing research papers to prove it. I would assert that every medical professional would encourage physical activity over a sedentary lifestyle for proper help and physical resiliency.

I exercised nearly every day prior to my injury. When a 107 mm rocket exploded within feet of me, all of that strength training and exercise paid off. Dozens of pieces of steel shrapnel would have destroyed my vital organs if my muscles had not absorbed them.

Although the blast fractured two vertebrae in my back, the physical fitness I achieved gave my body a fighting chance to survive. Exercise and diet have supporting roles in the other elements of resiliency as well. Exercise makes you feel good and promotes a positive mental attitude and a positive self-image. Additionally, exercise can be an element of your life that promotes social interaction.

Beyond Strong Positive Mental Attitude.
Maintaining a positive mental attitude has an incredible effect on all the other elements of your life. Find a time each day to focus on positive thoughts and watch the impact it has on your own mood and the mood of those around you. Nobody wants to hang around the “Negative Nancy” or “Dan the Downer” at work. Additionally, your family will spend more quality time together when they don’t dread you coming home with a poor attitude.

Count your blessings and you can look back on a fulfilled life. Remember, YOU are the one in control of your attitude. You can choose to focus on the things that are not going well, or you can focus on those things that are.

When I woke up at Walter Reed and found out that I would be paralyzed from the chest down for the rest of my life, I chose to focus on the fact that although I could have died, I got to spend more time here on this earth with my wonderful wife who was pregnant with our first child. One of the things that carried me through many of the frustrating times my recovery were jokes about the injury, although they were often at my own expense.

Upbeat Positive Network of Friends.

It is also important to maintain a solid core group of friends for when times become difficult. Obviously, this can have a positive effect on your mental outlook on a daily basis, but it can also be a source of strength when navigating life‘s trials.

Don’t be afraid to open up and become close to a few individuals whose friendship you value. Make sure these people elevate you and others instead of tearing you down and demeaning those around them.

Choose friends with a strong moral compass as their reputation can affect how others perceive you. It takes effort to maintain the strong bonds with other people. Often life can get in the way and relationships that are not maintained can weaken over time. Make it a point to reach out over the phone and in person so your social network remains strong. You never know when you may need some support.

Don’t Dare Overlook Family.
Family bonds are even more important to keep strong for the purpose of resiliency. Your family is the closest group of individuals that will support you in times of need. If you are married, make it a point to spend quality time on a very regular basis. You may want to attend marriage seminars are retreats to learn additional relationship skills before problems arise so that you are not trying to fix issues after the frustration comes.

One element that has the most damaging effect to marriages is money. Keep your financial affairs in order by having a savings account with 3 to 6 months worth of expenses in order to buffer when emergencies arise. If you do have a strained relationship with members of your family, now is the time to make amends and begin the process of repair. Regardless of who is at fault, you will be better off having people love you close by in the event of a crisis.

God Who?
The most overlooked and underemphasized element of resiliency is the spiritual component. Because each individual‘s relationship with their spiritual self is personal, many people feel uneasy speaking about it. In the military, this was certainly the case when I received training on resilience.

But let me be clear: the spiritual component of resiliency is not just another element equal to all the others but is the foundation from which the others have meaning. Because I had a relationship with God prior to my injury, I had faith that God has a plan and a purpose for my life and this injury was just part of it. For more about this perspective see my Never Alone Military video here. I cannot stress enough the importance of working towards spiritual security prior to the challenges of life.

If all the other elements fall apart, A strong spiritual resiliency can carry you through.

My wife likes to say that everyone is climbing their own mountain. By that, she means that life is fall of difficult challenges and there will be many obstacles along the way. One day you may face financial difficulties, divorce, cancer, unexpected injury, or maybe the death of a close family member. These events can have a devastating effect on the rest of your life if you do not focus on improving the elements of resiliency first.

Physical health, a positive mental attitude, a strong core social network, close family bonds, and a strong faith are all important to bounce back when life trips you up. Most importantly, don’t neglect the spiritual component as it is the foundation of all the other elements of resiliency.

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