Between the Lines

“A good half of the art of living is resilience.” — Alain de Botton

Kathy Steffen

In our current world it can be a challenge to navigate and stay positive, and building resilience will help with what might seem overwhelming. There are lots of sayings: keep a stiff upper lip, be brave in the face of adversity, remain firm in purpose and such, but how? When I need to dig into myself and figure something out, I write. Not for anyone to read, but for me, I’m thinking out loud on a page. I’ve begun my own “Resilience Journal” and come up with areas to focus on and exercises to build up a stronger core. And dang if I don’t feel better. Use a dedicated journal for this so you can revisit where you have been and how far you have come. 

Be Honest: In your journal, write down one thing that is challenging to you. If you have several, choose the biggest challenge, the one that feels like it can’t be overcome. Now freewrite about it. Really let go and write down everything you feel. How has it affected you? What fear does it bring? What feels insurmountable about it? What cannot be changed that you have to accept? Go ahead, be honest. Be afraid on the page. It’s like letting a little steam off a pressure cooker. Plus, when you name something and really examine it, you diminish its power. You may even find some answers to help you deal with it.

End each page with ideas to battle the challenge you are facing. You know that thing you can’t change? Is there anything or any aspect about it you can change? Write about emotional ways you can fight back, or actual tasks you can do.

Be Optimistic: What is going right in your life right now? What gives you hope? What are you grateful for today? What good thing happened today? This week? Last week? What did you do that you are proud of or happy about today? This week? Last week? List something difficult you went through. How did you manage to deal with it? What about you made it survivable? What traits or strengths did you use to get through it?

Connect with Support: Who are your friends? List them and what you love about each. How can you meet with them? If/when you do set up a meeting, each of you take 10 minutes to just vent. Maybe share some of your journaling. No fixing, no advising allowed! See where your conversation goes from there.

Make Art: Circle keywords and thoughts. How can you turn it into art? Can you do a photo essay on what gives you hope? Can you write a short story about being grateful? Write in the voice of anger? What about a painting about fear? About hope? About friendship?

Look to the Future: What do you want to accomplish in the next week? Next month? Next year? If you could do anything without failing, what would it be? If you had no fear, what project would you begin right now?

Kathy Steffen is an award-winning novelist and author of the “Spirit of the River Series:” “First, There is a River,” “Jasper Mountain,” and “Theater of Illusion.” She is grateful to write from her safe-at-home in Spring Green that she shares with her husband and cats. Find out more at www.kathysteffen.com.