Resilience. Authentic Self Counseling, Rochester, NY.

Witnessing Human Resilience

Resilience amazes me


I think I was first inspired by human resilience when I learned about the holocaust. Of course there are many events in history that demonstrate examples of resilience; however, learning about the holocaust when I was younger really hit home to me. It was only a handful of decades previously that the holocaust had happened… being in the same lifetime to meet survivors was too close for comfort.

In college I was excited to enroll in a class called “Auschwitz and After.” I was so excited to take this course but felt disturbed to be excited about something so tragic. The psychology around the holocaust was too intriguing to ignore.
Why it happened… how it happened… the organization of it all…. the vast involvement… power… fear… strength… I wanted to learn it all… understand it… but most of all… the aftermath. What do you do with your life after being a victim?! It is the resilience that draws me in the most.

I read an article about pregnant women in the concentration camps. Learning about their resilience allowed me to keep turning the pages. There was strength that would shine through the dark, horrific stories, making reading about it more tolerable for ME.

Some difficult events in life we train for…..

Athletes train for their sports. They train their bodies and their minds to concur the sport, the competition, and try to prepare for all types of conditions and situations that may come their way when it matters the most. I admire athletes. I am always amazed watching the Olympics and look forward to the years that the games are played.

I surround myself around endurance athletes like ultra runners and ironmen (and women). I am consistently amazed by their abilities. Through my friends and my own physical training, I have learned more about how the body responds to training, trauma (injury) and endurance. It has been a great learning experience. I place this hobby in my life as it helps me in my therapy in working with the other events….

The ones that we DO NOT train for.

The things that happen to us… that we don’t want to happen to us. Unwilling, unasking, and unnerving…

Physically, mentally, emotionally. We did not prepare for these events, but are unfortunately put in a difficult and often life or death situation. (Like being a victim in a concentration camp).

People don’t train for ongoing systemic abuse on the body and mind. Nor should anyone. It is horrific that abuse happens.

Childhood abuse is not just a thing that rarely happens. It happens every day. I see the effects that it has on adults. Children are not able to train themselves for such circumstances to live through, but they live (sometimes), they endure, and they demonstrate resilience.

You, my client, are my inspiration, my motivation, and my strength.

After hearing trauma story after trauma story I thought I would become emotionless. Stop empathizing and become numb. I haven’t. My heart aches with every story that I hear.

Then why are you a therapist – a trauma specialist?!?

Resilience. The fact that people endure. The fact that I see you heal. I am honored to be a part of such a difficult journey of recovery.

No amount of therapy can take away your past. Therapy can change the way how you look at the past and how you therefore look at the future. So you can move forward, live and enjoy life.

In recovery it is important to know that you can bend and are not broken even though you FEEL broken. You are not. You are strong. You are resilient.

You are alive. You have endured.

When you are in survival mode you might develop coping mechanisms that help you through so that you can survive. But when the danger is over (when you’re finally released from the camp or the hostage situation) and you are safe, you do not FEEL safe. You continue with these coping skills that become maladaptive and continue to keep you trapped, years and years after in reality you are no longer trapped.

At this point therapy can help your mind and your body to heal and recognize its current state and you are not just surviving anymore. You are living. You are enjoying. You can be happy.

I challenge you to recognize your resilience. Your ability to continue on despite adversity. By recognizing this you will create a platform for healing to begin.

It is important to know you are not your trauma. You are not your past. You are your resilience.