In the world of psychology, resilience, or the ability to bounce back from adversity, is an important aspect of emotional stability. Generally, it seems that when we are young, a strong sense of self, held by protections in our environment, helps us to develop a sense of resiliency later in life. That is, some children have the good fortune of strong role models who are able to project a sense of well-being for the children, despite adversity.
Additionally, it seems that some children tend toward a higher tolerance for challenges from the outside. As these children begin to devise their worldview, they see the world as a generally safe place to live in, and they project this belief into their adult lives. In other words, be it through nature or nurture, they exhibit resilience when the going gets tough.
Some of us, however, are not so lucky. Whether it is due to the lack of strong protections from the outside or from the inside, some of us seem to be of the ultra-sensitive variety. As a therapist, I have heard numerous stories of adult clients who have poor resilience due to the impact of childhood experiences.
A common scenario is that there was discord in the family, and these ultra-sensitive children attempt to help the adults by absorbing the negativity in the environment into their own psyches. They are deeply affected by the lack of safety in the environment and tend to develop a worldview that there are few safe havens in the human experience. And because of these beliefs, they attract people and situations that are aligned to this worldview.
While ultra-sensitive people seem to be at a disadvantage when it comes to resiliency, there is a silver lining in this cloud: intuition. I recall as a child that when my father was angry, I would retreat into my closet and play with my toys. At the same time, I was listening intently to what was going on around me. I did not know at the time that this intense listening was training for highly developed intuition. I learned to sense when it was “safe” to come out, when the coast was clear and the storm cloud had passed. Over the years, this ability to sense situations and people has held me in good stead, particularly when difficulties came my way and I was not sure which way to turn.
Learning to listen to your intuition can be challenging at first. Your intuition may tell you to take a turn that you do not understand. Listening to my intuition has taught me that there is a flow to allowing those waters to sweep you into a mysterious world in which things somehow work out in surprising ways.
A few years ago, my husband lost his job, just at the start of the economic downturn. We were able to sell our house, but the next step was unclear. We put our belongings in storage and took a road trip, looking for work and for signs that would indicate our next move. Gradually, as we considered various options, a strong feeling that I could not shake came over me: our next move would be to Colorado.
The rational mind was able to explain this by the fact that I had an offer to open a private practice in a colleague’s therapy office. But that was little to go on. We sensed that this was the right thing to do and we settled down near Denver. I was able to establish a thriving practice there, but my husband continued to struggle to find work in the poor economy. However, we had the sense that we were where we needed to be, and that gave us comfort.
What we did not know was that a dear friend of my husband was in the last years of her short life. This woman lived very close to our home in Denver, and in the two years that we were there, we bonded with this brilliant but unusual woman who had few friends. When she died of a brain aneurism, my husband was the one who found her body. When our friend’s brother came to settle her estate, he told my husband about a job in the Boston area that seemed just right for him. He got the job and we moved there a few months later.
While the financial situation did not greatly improve in Denver, I believe that if we had known that this woman was going to die, we would have chosen to be with her. And a blessing came for us as a result. I have easily re-established a thriving practice in our new location and we feel very much at home in the Boston area. Our journey was not logical, but it brought us great gifts that we continue to treasure. And our sense that we were where we needed to be helped us to cope with a number of difficult challenges.
How do you learn to use intuition to aid your resiliency? It is important to learn to listen to your instincts. It helps to take quiet time every day and set an intention to receive information you need. Then, open your mind to the information that comes, whatever it may be. I have found that if the information is valid, it presents itself over and over until I acknowledge it. Another way to expand intuition is to learn to listen to the body because it is constantly providing subtle cues that tell us the truth about things. Feelings of calm or upset can act as signposts in times of confusion.
Intuition is a gift that many of us ignore. Yet, when life throws us challenges that we cannot work through with the logical mind, intuition can be a great friend, a tool to provide comfort, understanding, and clarity, and a support to our resiliency in times of trouble.
Originally published on YourTango.