I make a detailed list of my positive experiences of my military or civilian life and share this with significant others. I go on a “meaning-making mission”. When meaning is found, I do not set aside the search for meaning, rather this is an ongoing process. The journey continues.
Traumatic experiences can clear the way for meaning-making, a sense of purpose that we would not have found otherwise. The healing process forges new meaning that can make way for growth. Resilient individuals tend to be highly generative and try to make the world a better place. They often serve as volunteers, mentors and political activists. They re-engage life.
Consider that in the sixth century, St. Benedict founded his monastic order on Mount Cassino, Italy in order to help individuals cope more effectively with trauma and illness. The organizing principle of the monastic order was “Ora et Labora” (Pray and work). The sense of having a mission was viewed in the sixth century, as well as now, as essential to building resilience”(as cited by Nathan Ainspan, Walter Penk and Dolores Little).
“We survived and we have a chance to live and we are choosing life.”
“God has given me a second chance.”
“I survived for a purpose, to help prevent this from happening again.”
“I am no longer willing to be defined by my victimization.”
“I moved from being a victim to becoming a survivor and even a thriver.”
“I can make a gift of my pain and loss and share it with others so they can be wiser and better prepared.”
“I try to pass along the knowledge I have gained through my experiences.”
“I now know God.”
“Recognizing the fragility of life, you can refocus on what’s important to you, and not waste time on things that aren’t.”