Congregation at Duke Chapel

Activating your Resilience

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Activating Resilience and Deepening Your Spiritual Life

presentation at Adult Forum by
The Rev. Debra Brazzel
November 12, 2017

Spiritual Principles on Resilience

Gratitude and praise

Solitude and silence

Community - Wherever two or three are gathered

Union with God in Christ through the Holy Spirit

We are made strong in our weakness

Keep your eyes on Jesus - seek what is good and beautiful and true and worthy of praise


Scriptures on resilience:

"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." 1 Thess. 5:16-18

"O Lord, you have searched me and known me.
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
     you discern my thoughts from far away.
3 You search out my path and my lying down,
     and are acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before a word is on my tongue,
     O Lord, you know it completely.
5You hem me in, behind and before,
     and lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
     it is so high that I cannot attain it." Psalm 139:1-6

"And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone." Matt 14:23

He said, "Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by." Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. 1 Kings 19:11-12

"Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body." 1 Cor 6:19-20

"Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Phil 4:6-7

"For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them." Matt 18:20

"There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all." Eph 4:4-6

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. 2 Cor 4:8-10

"I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me." Phil 4:12-13

"We boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us." Rom 5:2-5

"I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." Josh 1:9

"Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." Phil 4:8

Cultivating Resilience - the American Psychological Association:

Make connections. Good relationships with close family members, friends or others are important. Accepting help and support from those who care about you and will listen to you strengthens resilience. Some people find that being active in civic groups, faith-based organizations, or other local groups provides social support and can help with reclaiming hope. Assisting others in their time of need also can benefit the helper.

Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems. You can't change the fact that highly stressful events happen, but you can change how you interpret and respond to these events. Try looking beyond the present to how future circumstances may be a little better. Note any subtle ways in which you might already feel somewhat better as you deal with difficult situations.

Accept that change is a part of living. Certain goals may no longer be attainable as a result of adverse situations. Accepting circumstances that cannot be changed can help you focus on circumstances that you can alter.

Move toward your goals. Develop some realistic goals. Do something regularly - even if it seems like a small accomplishment - that enables you to move toward your goals. Instead of focusing on tasks that seem unachievable, ask yourself, "What's one thing I know I can accomplish today that helps me move in the direction I want to go?"

Take decisive actions. Act on adverse situations as much as you can. Take decisive actions, rather than detaching completely from problems and stresses and wishing they would just go away.

Look for opportunities for self-discovery. People often learn something about themselves and may find that they have grown in some respect as a result of their struggle with loss. Many people who have experienced tragedies and hardship have reported better relationships, greater sense of strength even while feeling vulnerable, increased sense of self-worth, a more developed spirituality and heightened appreciation for life.

Nurture a positive view of yourself. Developing confidence in your ability to solve problems and trusting your instincts helps build resilience.

Keep things in perspective. Even when facing very painful events, try to consider the stressful situation in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective. Avoid blowing the event out of proportion.

Maintain a hopeful outlook. An optimistic outlook enables you to expect that good things will happen in your life. Try visualizing what you want, rather than worrying about what you fear.

Take care of yourself. Pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Engage in activities that you enjoy and find relaxing. Exercise regularly. Taking care of yourself helps to keep your mind and body primed to deal with situations that require resilience.

Additional ways of strengthening resilience may be helpful. For example, some people write about their deepest thoughts and feelings related to trauma or other stressful events in their life. Meditation and spiritual practices help some people build connections and restore hope. The key is to identify ways that are likely to work well for you as part of your own personal strategy for fostering resilience.

Benson-Henry Institute's Stress Management and Resiliency Training (SMART) Program:

Meditate. Practicing a meditation technique counters stress by eliciting the relaxation response, which helps lower blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, oxygen consumption, and stress hormones. Elicit the response with yoga, tai chi, meditation, guided imagery, or deep breathing exercises.

Reframe your situation. See the upside rather than the downside of a predicament. For example, if you're sad that your grown child isn't calling as often as you'd like, try instead to be proud and happy that you helped your child become an independent adult.

Lean on your social network. Friends and family are important stress buffers. "You can cope better if you have people you can share your stressors with, or people to help you," Malloy says.

Cultivate positive thinking. When you're stressed, it's easy to think about what's wrong. "We'll have people focus on three things that are going well, or three things they're grateful for each day," Malloy says. "It could be as simple as enjoying a cup of coffee or having a nice chat on the phone."

Laugh more. "Laughing can decrease stress hormones and boost the immune system," Malloy says. Try watching a funny movie, reading a funny book, or even forcing yourself to laugh. "Laughter is contagious, and it's not always dependent on humor," Malloy says.

Be optimistic. "Think of a positive outcome, not a negative one," says Malloy. "Consider an upcoming situation, and visualize the positive qualities you want to bring to it."