Tapping into your resilience (during confinement)
A year ago I was at the top of my game, working, scheduling workshops and marketing my recently published book. I had plans to put my home on the market. That all changed in one moment.
I came home happy after a Friday evening of ballroom dancing with my friends. But that evening, I momentarily forgot about a large piece of broken glass that was in my office. I tripped and fell on it and it made a deep gash the full length of my leg. In the emergency room, I received 55 stitches and lost a pint of blood. Major leg muscles were damaged.
I kept asking the doctors if, eventually, I would be able to walk and dance, and they could not give me an answer. They suggested I get used to getting around in a wheelchair from now on. But I knew that I wanted to have full use of my leg again.
A therapist told me that if I really wanted to walk again, I would have to tap into my resilience using my imagination.
“We all have resilience,” she said. “Use your imagination by picturing what you want your body to be able to do, even though your body can’t do it now. Create a mental image of you walking and dancing. Make it like a movie that plays out in your imagination. That’s your vision.
“Picture it as clearly and fully as you can in great detail. Repeat it every day, even a number of times a day, especially when you get discouraged. Your vision tells your body how you would like it to act. Your body will find its way to heal itself.
“You may have to spend some time in a wheelchair and wearing leg braces,” she said, “but don’t stop holding your vision of walking and dancing.”
During the months of physical therapy I did as she suggested. While I was restricted by wheelchair and crutches, I would hold a picture of me walking carefree down the street without a brace or cane and effortlessly ballroom dancing with friends. Eventually, holding my vision paid off. I am walking, working and dancing again.
For many, the pandemic has created uncertainty about plans and dreams.
Our futures were put on hold. These in-between times are perfect for using your imagination to tap into your resilience. Use your imagination as a new way of coping.
I give you the same advice that my therapist gave me: Use your imagination to create a clear, detailed vision of your plans and future. Make a mental movie of yourself living that future. That’s your vision. Think of your weeks of stay-at-home restrictions like my periods of time in a wheelchair, using crutches and wearing a leg brace. But these are also the perfect moments to chart our futures.
Reimagine your vision many times during the day and before you fall asleep at night. Picture and feel it as vividly as you can. Reinforce your vision whenever you are tempted to get discouraged or frustrated with being confined at home.
Only you can re-create and redesign your life. Use this in-between time to do it.
Dr. Barbara Barski-Carrow, communication educator and expert in dealing with anxiety and trauma, has taken the time to reflect on the present situation in our country and offer some simple suggestions that anyone can use.