After many conversations with you all on Instagram this week, I think it’s safe to say that if you’re alive in 2020, you’re going through something right now. This is an important time to talk about being resilient.
We each have a unique set of personal battles. Whether you feel overwhelmed by the uncertainty of life, weighed down by the unkindness and toxicity of others, or burnt out from your own personal trials, this post is for you!
A few weeks ago, I was feeling frustrated and burdened about the unforgiving world we live in. I also felt anxiety about a loss of motivation and purpose within myself. I was burning out. I couldn’t stop thinking, “Why do so many bad things happen to good people?”, “Will things ever get better?”, and “Will I always feel this way?”
That day, I saw an Instagram post from my good friend Karina.
“I used to think the more my pain persists, the more I’d get used to it. I’ve found quite the contrary. Most of the time it just gets old and I get weary. Thankfully my robes don’t seem to mind their overuse.
So here’s a grainy picture of my present self reminding myself I can endure it again tonight like I did last night and will again tomorrow night.”
Karina takes medication that compromises her immune system in order to prolong the life of her kidney transplant. She deals with pain and uncertainty every day.
Karina’s perspective of pain helped me understand that although life can be incessantly painful physically, mentally, and emotionally, we can endure it.
Our bodies are designed to feel a range of emotions. We chase happiness like it’s a destination. But the truth is, happiness is a human feeling that comes and goes. Like happiness, sadness and anxiety are human, and they come and go too. Instead of shrinking, we can find power and passion in our humanness.
Because of her experiences and wisdom on being resilient, I asked Karina to answer questions about dealing with pain and anxiety, and offer advice on how to move through life’s battles.
First, a little about Karina (:
I am a 5ft tall girl who currently enjoys nightly baths accompanied by 70s love ballads. I am passionate about understanding divinity, music, dance, my family, old movies, colors and textures, organ donation, good robes, Russian literature, and trees. I graduated from BYU with a BS in Human Development and a Minor in Contemporary Dance. My most present ambition is to get yoga certified and own a little dog for myself. Most honestly my greatest achievement thus far is the person who I am today and that I feel myself changing and becoming something greater than I thought I could.
What has been the greatest lesson you’ve learned this year?
An almost impossible question to answer. The lessons I am learning and have learned feel layered and hard to rate one as more valuable than the others.
I’ve learned that things that used to impress me or intimidate me don’t anymore. I almost died last year as my body went into shock during treatments to salvage my kidney transplant in rejection. I was wiped of everything I knew or hoped or thought I knew. The way I looked, thought, felt, walked, etc. all were tampered with and that was frustrating.
It felt like the rug got ripped out from underneath me during all of it and I had to just be present in it all in order to merely survive. People’s (mine included) degrees, job titles, incomes, style, looks, intellect, relationship status, etc. held very little value to me. They stopped impressing me.
I was reminded that I just want to be kind. That’s all.
I learned and very much am still learning that the ambitions and plans I thought were so important at one time, really don’t amount to much in the end. In essence, that realization freed me from fear and allowed me to be far more impressed by the patient and relentless love of my family and friends, the dedication of my doctors, the natural bright colors of flowers outside, or the kind breeze on a hot day, or a smiling stranger. The rest means very little. I hope to remember this.
What does being resilient mean to you?
Resilience, to me, is the ability to remember and access the divine grit and tenacity within you as a human being and as a child of God, moving you toward something greater than your present circumstance. That doesn’t have to be a physical change or movement, but for me, is most often a spiritual, emotional, or mental movement to keep going.
How do you work on being resilient?
I have a slew of resources in my “tool box” for being resilient.
- First you have to be open to yourself and be willing to be open with those you love. I rely on my parents and sisters a lot to remind me of why they love being alive.
- I find an outlet either with dance, (lately ceramics), talking with my friends or family, writing (a lot of stream of consciousness), or listening to music. These things inspire me and remind me that I am made of divine substance that is greater than the trials of this mortality.
- Being totally okay with being absolutely miserable. Something about that gentleness with myself frees me to move forward.
- Remembering past times God and I have got through Hell together and believing we can do it again together.
How do you deal with sadness and pain?
That depends on the type of sadness and type of pain. I experience many in each realm: spiritual, physical, emotional, and relational. I cry a lot, maybe because I’m a pisces or just because my tear ducts are dry haha.
I try not to let myself go numb and tap into things that help me feel alive physically or spiritually like:
- Listening to my heartbeat by putting my hand on my chest
- Going on a walk
- Watching a movie that will remind me what it means to be human with all the frailty and power intertwined.
- I let myself talk a lot to my parents and God. Just spewing emotions into words without any care or judgment from myself helps a lot.
My mom always reminds me of the beauty of experiencing depth of emotions both good and hard. The wider my pallet of emotions, the more I feel my divinity and humanity as one. She often tells me it’s in the deepest of emotions that I have a great opportunity to create something really powerful and raw. Whether that’s in writing, designing, relationships, or dancing…she encourages me to pour the passion into creativity. I love that mentality.
For physical pain, I try to remind myself that my body is just a shell and that my spirit does not have to be touched by it.
I use many other external resources to help me cope and just survive day to day with chronic pain like:
- Hot baths
- Heating pads
- Deep breathing
- A slew of creams and oils to ease pain
There’s never one right answer to help soothe pain…each day it’s different. Sometimes I need a distraction and other times I need to sit in it and be as present as possible to simply focus enough to endure it.
To you, what is the meaning of gratitude?
I think gratitude is in the power of recognition and allowing your senses to be enlivened in the most subtle and grand of ways.
How do you deal with anxiety?
- Talking with someone. My parents mainly, other times my siblings or friends, or therapist when needed.
- Taking deep breaths and listening to calming music. Water does wonders for calming me down too (who knows also maybe my pisces nature lol).
- Doing guided imagery and bringing light, balance and harmony into a relaxing flow within my body as I imagine and focus each body part being overwhelmed with goodness.
- I am incredibly physical, so the most beneficial thing for me is having someone rub my back, my arm, hold my hand, or just be near me as I am there. I think I draw on the power of their grounded spirit and non-anxious body as a source of calming for me.
- Peppermint oil and heating pads.
For more tips on dealing with anxiety, read “7 Steps to Deal with Anxiety in a Relationship”.
To you, what does it mean to find peace?
I think it means being in harmony. Reconciling the dark and light inside yourself and around you. Knowing where you have control and letting go where you don’t. I think it’s staying open to whatever goodness and love is being offered from your environment (God, words, people, touch, music, nature, art, etc.) or being created within you.
What’s something you think every person should experience in their lifetime?
Loving someone else and feeling/embracing/welcoming love of others in their life. I truly believe you can get through anything if you know love and can remember it, hold onto it and hope for it, even when it feels distant.