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Published on November 05, 2020

Knowing your strengths

Create room for resilience to reduce stress

By Louisa Stringer, Certified Caregiving Consultant (TM symbol) with Cape Wellness Collaborative

This is the second part of Stringer’s column on resilience

If we all knew how to reduce stress with one simple practice, our lives would be so much easier. In September I shared about the importance of not being ashamed of stress, and how acceptance can open the door to strength.

I have a picture, cut from a magazine, framed in my house, of an individual standing next to his bike, contemplating a beautiful valley somewhere in the mountains. The words that accompany this picture are simple: “They say you get to know five people in your lifetime. Shouldn’t one of them be you?” I keep it hung on the wall in my house because it challenges me every time I read it. It feeds a need I have craved my whole life; the need to know who I am.

Knowledge builds resilience

In my work with family caregivers, my favorite question by far has to be summed up in one simple word: How. The word “how” turns any work we want to do on ourselves into a question. It provides a challenge we so desperately need to help us on our journey to better knowing ourselves. For family caregivers (and everyone really) the better we can answer the “how” questions' the more capable we are of having the strength we need to go forward as caregivers and people.

The first step in knowing our strengths is spending quality time with ourselves. If you can carve out at least 10 minutes a day (which truly we all can) to listen, contemplate, admire, and learn about you, then you have already had a great start. Sit on that furniture you spent so much time carefully picking out, quietly, with no distractions and just be. With this practice, most of the time our weaknesses, fears and stress come to the surface. Process and nurture those thoughts that are coming to you because they are showing you where you need your strength. Ask the “how” questions without being prompted. It is here we learn who we are, we know who we are, and we are strong in who we are. This knowledge provides resilience and that resilience is strength.

Find your ladder

St. Isaac of Syria suggests that if we “dive into ourselves, there we will find the ladder by which to ascend, as stated in Psychology Today. As individuals living on this earth, we owe it to ourselves to dive into who we are. Allow yourself the feelings, all of them! Allow all of who you are. This is you. When you meet yourself there, your ladder will show itself and you can use those strengths you have found in getting to know yourself to climb up that ladder, rung by rung.

Louisa Stringer, CCC ™ is a practitioner and advocate trained in mental health first aid.  She offers caregiver support and outreach with Cape Wellness Collaborative, a local non-profit organization which provides free integrative wellness therapies for anyone in the Cape community facing cancer.