Blooming Again

White Orchids

When I moved almost two years ago, my orchids quit blooming.  I have had four of them for years, and they had been good bloomers in spite of receiving only sporadic care from me.  I had come to the conclusion they did not like their new home, the lighting was off, or they were just too old.  I tried to give them to my green-thumbed sister when she came to visit, but she conveniently forgot them when she left!  I lost hope that I would be able to enjoy their beautiful blossoms again and planned on throwing them all out.  

And then, a few weeks ago I noticed new growth on two of the plants.  Each day I was surprised as the buds grew and finally opened.  A third plant also has a tiny tip of a stalk that makes me think it is reawakening!  Those plants are resilient!  Moving, changing environments and lighting, and some neglect may have caused the plants to look stagnant, but when the timing was right the blooms burst forth as beautiful as ever.  

Resiliency is the ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change (Merriam-Webster).  We have probably all met or heard of people with stories of terrible tragedy, having had traumatic experiences, or who grew up without the nurture children need.  And, in spite of those experiences, these individuals are able to somehow overcome and eventually lead satisfying, productive, and purposeful lives.  They are truly resilient individuals.  

The factors that can help protect individuals from collapsing under the weight of trauma, abuse, or terrible loss can also help us deal with the blows that life deals us at times.  Divorce, death of a loved one, chronic illness, and other challenges of life can cause stress that depletes us of energy, joy, and focus.  We may find it helpful to develop some protective factors that have been shown to foster resilience. 

A good support system can include friends, family, teachers, pastors, or anyone with whom you have a close, trusting relationship.  Recent research suggests that strong interpersonal relationships may provide the best protection in highly stressful environments.  

Being optimistic and looking for the positives in life can carry us a long way when life is not going the way we imagined. Realizing, too, that situations and feelings change may help carry us through when our emotions are painful.  If you have navigated difficult circumstances before, recall the successful outcome to help bolster your self-confidence that you can make it through this, too.  

Spirituality and faith can help give a sense of meaning and purpose in life when you are in situations that seem to make no sense.  Hope for the future, and the belief that we are not alone can help through the darkest times.

Good coping skills is another quality that resilient individuals have.  The good news is that healthy ways of coping can be learned if you have turned to unhealthy ways of coping in the past, such as substance abuse, drinking, or emotional eating.  

Flexibility and being open to change can help.  Circumstances may have us in a different place than we had hoped, but if we rigidly hold onto our ideal of how life is going to be, we may be increasing our own suffering.  Having an attitude of curiosity and openness to change may help us find a new path that we did not know existed.