Dr. Rivera

Dr. Karla Rivera is a district-wide psychologist here in Irvington. She is here to provide support for children and families as we face these challenging times.

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Bouncing Back- Your Path to Resilience

We have spent much of 2020 just trying to get ourselves and our children through a most challenging year. Hopefully, in spite of it all, we have done our best to stay well both emotionally and physically. With a new year comes a light at the end of the “pandemic tunnel”, but we still may have some challenging months ahead before life returns to normal- so how should we spend them? 

While we’re all eager to leave 2020 behind- this strange year also offers opportunities for reflection and growth- a chance to evaluate 

where we have been and how to forge ahead.  

 Resiliency means bouncing back or growing through adversity.  It means not just surviving, but finding ways to thrive during difficult times. According to Barbara Rubel, expert in grief and loss, “trauma and loss can be catalysts for growth. The most difficult situations can facilitate opportunities to make meaning and build resilience”.

It may feel too soon to think about “bouncing back” when you may feel like you are just keeping your head above water- but if you think about it, you may be surprised by all the ways you are already showing resilience in your life. 

Think about your experiences over the past ten months of the pandemic (yes, it’s been 10 months!). Are there things that you’ve learned that you will want to hold onto? Are there any positive changes you have made that you want to keep?

Have you had to find new and creative ways to manage work or your home life- what new skills have you developed? Are there new healthy practices you have adopted for your children or yourself?  

Maybe you have made positive changes in how you relate to your children, or in the time you spend together? Have you grown closer as a family? Do you have a better understanding of what your child is like as a student than you did before, or what their classroom experiences may be like? Have you found successful ways to manage your child’s virtual schooling? What obstacles have you had to overcome together?

What about other relationships in your life? Maybe you have grown closer to friends and loved ones, and maybe you have contemplated relationships in your life and found there are changes that need to be made- this is also growth. 

 Any positive changes you have made through these trying times reflects how resilient you already are!

There is no such thing as being too resilient, so here are a few ways of thinking and being that help us to thrive in the face of adversity.

  • Adapting to your circumstances, accepting that what you believe or thought would happen has changed, but making the best of it anyway and looking for any positives.
  • Understanding that overcoming a painful experience you are having will make you stronger when you encounter future challenges. Knowing that you have survived something incredibly difficult, and therefore can also survive difficult situations in the future. 
  • Acknowledging habits that we have that may be destructive and working to change them takes courage and allows for positive change.
  • After adversity, resisting the urge to get “stuck”, striving to be loving, positive and productive despite hardships we have experienced.
  • Understanding the power you have to affect your emotions by what you tell yourself about a situation. Telling yourself that you can’t cope can lead to overwhelming negative emotions- simply changing the message you tell yourself to, “I CAN get through this; I’ve overcome hardships before”, will positively affect your thoughts, feelings and sense of competency. 

You may recognize some of this in yourself, or maybe learning to think this way is something to strive for. There is always room to grow. Remember that everyday you try to make positive changes through these difficult times, you are already showing resilience and teaching your children to do the same!