Choosing Resilience in Financial Recovery

Crumpled money image from

The media doesn’t report about a recession much anymore, but the stories coming my way tell me that the financial recovery is far from complete for many people.

At this time last year, the economy hadn’t improved enough for us to stay in our same circumstances without some change.

I spent several fall days taking down and repainting the red exterior doors in our home. Although tedious, the project gave me a sense of purpose as we contemplated whether or not we would sell our home sometime before spring.

Just over one month later, we listed our home for sale. Letting go of our family home was one of the most challenging decisions we made during the four years of up and down income that came as a result of the recession.

But after choosing to move on—literally and figuratively—we  rebounded. A year later, we’ve recovered from the change of address and from the years of stress and struggle.

How did this happen? How did we recover financially and heal emotionally?

My answers won’t be everybody’s answers. But hearing messages of resilience–a word I never before used to define myself—showed me some common truths.

Resilience is within all of us, and we can all develop resilience.

Psychology Today says that resilience is “that ineffable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever.”

Some people, you say. But not me, right?

The first message of resilience came from Kari Archibald, a faculty member in recreation management at BYU Idaho, who talked recently about  The Promise of Renewal. She said,

 Although we have the inherent gift of resilience because of our divine nature; we sometimes forget how to renew ourselves.

We have an inherent gift in our natures to be resilient. We just have to seek it and develop it. She continued,

It is through experience that we learn and develop new capabilities. A resilient person recognizes their strengths and uses them. Many of us, however, freeze in fear and discouragement when faced  with a challenge that is beyond our capabilities.

Resilience is modeled, taught and learned in a family.

The qualities of a resilient person from Psychology Today are “a positive attitude, optimism, the ability to regulate emotions, and the ability to see failure as a form of helpful feedback.”

I’m not a naturally optimistic person, but parenting has a way of teaching a mom or dad the exact thing she or he needs to learn when it comes time to teach a child.

Kari Archibald reminded me of another message of resilience I received during this year of recovery, an article about raising resilient children. She quoted the author, Lyle Burrup, who  said,

As children develop resilience, they believe they can influence and even control outcomes in their lives though effort, imagination, knowledge and skill. With this attitude, they focus on what they can do rather than on what is outside their control. Another mark of resilience is to see great purpose and meaning in life and people. A sense of purpose will help our children avoid giving up, in spite of setbacks and pressure to do so.

I immediately shared this tool with my teens to use in our daily problem solving. Every negative circumstance is a chance to practice and eventually adopt this mindset as our routine reaction.

Resilience brings growth from misfortune.

The final message of resilience came from my husband in the form of  a TED Talk about a video game that boosts resilience.

When game designer Jane McGonigal found herself bedridden and suicidal following a severe concussion, she had a fascinating idea for how to get better. She dove into the scientific research and created the healing game, SuperBetter. In this moving talk, McGonigal explains how a game can boost resilience — and promises to add 7.5 minutes to your life.

You should watch it. I was skeptical, too. But then she shared this big truth,

Some people get stronger and happier after a traumatic event. . . . Scientists call this Post Traumatic Growth, and it can be a springboard to unleash our best qualities and lead happier lives.

She’s right. I feel happier and more capable now then before our family went through the recession. I’m not going to become a gamer, but I will apply some of the keys to mental, physical and emotional resilience she shares.

Resilience is also a byproduct of faith. 

Resilience seems to be more than just an optimistic view of bad circumstance or a quality wish we had; it is a proactive choice.  Just like taking a little seed of faith and acting on it causes faith to grow, grabbing hold of small portions of healing, renewal, forgiveness or strength multiplies these characteristics in us.

In my experience, when this emotional growth is accompanied by faith in God, the results are amplified beyond what sheer willpower can accomplish.

A year ago my choice to paint those doors acknowledged the possibility that leaving our home might open us to something better. Today, we are happy, healthier and positive about our present and our future. We are resilient.

Recovery from the financial crisis comes in unique, individualized choices. But even in the struggle to know which choice is the right one for a particular individual or family, choosing resilience is not only possible but vital for renewal.






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