This article is an excerpt from The Top 10 Traits of Highly Resilient People: Real Life Stories of Resilience Show You How to Build a Stress Resistant Personality, published with permission from the publisher.
Top Resilience Trait #3 : Persistence
Persistence is an essential quality for resilience that can be cultivated by anybody, regardless of your situation, experiences or current approach to life’s challenges. It does not mean the dogged pursuit of accolades or approval from others, but rather the inner quality of determination that means you keep putting one step in front of the other, even when times get tough.
The most resilient people have incredible tenacity. They believe in the exponential power of small steps and no matter how they feel, they find the energy, willpower and courage to keep on taking them. Even when the outcome is not guaranteed and the destination is uncertain, having persistence is a key trait when it comes to not letting your circumstances dictate your destiny.
Without persistence you will give up too easily, let the opinions of others dictate your direction and let circumstances weigh you down. A lack of persistence can mean you stay stuck, you feel powerless and you lack any sense of vitality. Far better to find a way to take the smallest step forward, so that you start aligning with your best self again.
Persistence can often be perceived negatively, as there are times when it is driven by the pursuit of an outcome that is more about proving yourself and satisfying your ego. This type of persistence tends to be exhausting to maintain and it has little to do with resilience.
Scientists studying resilience have found that those who keep working towards overcoming their situation by maintaining constant focus and effort, are the ones who emerge most successfully from whatever it is they are dealing with. This is true whether the situation is a scary diagnosis, a mental health issue, loss of a loved one or any number of other life transitions. The motivating factor is generally stronger than any sense of fear that arises when looking at the big picture, and momentum is created by belief in the power of repeated small steps.
To do this requires a strong sense of trust in yourself and in the possibility of a different life. It requires cultivation of the inner belief that you have exactly what it takes to make it through challenging times, even when it feels as though you are trying to walk through treacle. The most resilient people use their challenges as fuel to help them move forwards, which means they become self-reliant when it comes to finding motivation.
Persistent people are motivated not only by the possibility of a more fulfilling future on the other side of their current circumstances, they also delight in the process required to get there — whether they realize it or not. With every small win and every shift forward, they gather more evidence that they have what it takes to shift their reality. This creates a powerful self-fulfilling prophecy, which boosts their confidence and conviction daily, giving them greater staying power.
To develop more persistence, we have to use our insight to identify what lies behind our desire to give up when we are trying to overcome challenges or make changes. Do we give up out of fear, lack of conviction, self-pity or exhaustion? Do we feel as though we are powerless, a victim of circumstances or the only one in the world experiencing this? If these feel true, what contradictory evidence can we gather to boost our belief in our capacity to keep going when the going gets tough?
Our first story is a powerful example of how important it is to examine our inner beliefs, especially when it comes to transforming your future from one of victimhood to powerful creator. Susan Edwards completely rewrote her personal story in her mid thirties, by taking ownership of her circumstances and using them to fuel her as she made up for lost time. Her wounds became her life’s work and thanks to persistence, she has subsequently impacted the lives of thousands through her workshops and seminars.
Our next story is from an extremely resilient woman who obstinately refused to give up on herself, despite her life reaching depths that she describes as feeling like a dark cold mist had formed. Berit Bosdal’s story transcends continents, spans years and gives us hope that no place is ever too far from home that we cannot find it within us to rise again. Along with persistence, this author also acknowledges curiosity as being a powerful ally on her journey. May your curiosity be awakened as you read her story and may her final recommendations help you to strengthen your own persistence.
The third story in the chapter on persistence illustrates how deeply powerful our connection with our body is when it comes to accessing the inner belief we need to become more resilient. Written by Cynthia Harrison, a soulful woman who had an extremely difficult childhood, this story transcends decades and shows us what it takes to keep going even when you have no support and no one hears or sees you. This author learned to listen deeply to her body and to respect the voice within. These qualities became her strength, even when all she could do was sit in a park and cry.
Watch the interview with Cynthia here:
In our final story in this chapter, Ann Marie Wyrsch paints a very clear picture of what it’s like to grow up in a family affected by addiction. Her childhood primed her for a life of missed connections, but she found her way to the 12-step recovery community which helped her make sense of her life. She offers her own 12 step process for the recovering/discovering adult who may have also experienced addiction or codependency. Ann Marie has given us permission to share her chapter in our magazine. Read it here.
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