UK Council for Psychotherapy

UKCP

Accredited Psychotherapist

British Association for
Counselling & Psychotherapy

BACP

Accredited Counsellor

Counselling & Psychotherapy
Central London, Camden, Kings Cross, London NW1
Glen Gibson - Dip. Counselling, MA Psychotherapy, Dip. Psychotherapy
UKCP & mBACP Accredited male Therapist, Counsellor & Psychotherapist

therapy@counselling-london.org.uk 020 7916 1342

Our Resilience, Hardiness & Protecting Our Personal Boundaries

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Resilience, Hardiness & Healthy Boundaries, Parameters

Boundaries & Parameters

Our Personal Boundaries When younger our boundaries may have been ignored, invaded, engulfed, disrespected (see also Our Painbody), affecting our boundaries now, as if we view external events, others, as the cause of our own pain, hurt. We may continue to let others to set the agenda for our life. The personal boundaries and parameters we have hold and protect us, support our inner authority, wellbeing, help build our tolerance. Our boundaries are our way to contain things can help strengthen ourselves, they can help give us the power to tolerate any situation & anyone. Setting boundaries and parameters can support our self-discipline, when we need to call upon it. And our discipline can be supportive through our compassionate determination. Setting our parameters and boundaries & maintaining them doesn't mean we have to suffer in silence or be stiff. With our self-chosen healthy boundaries our toleration of other people & problems can be managed easier. We can be open, compassionate, flexible, connected & strong, no matter what is happening around us, so we can flourish. Boundaries counselling, resilience therapy can explore these boundary issues with you.

Self-Control We are all tempted by certain things in life - overdoing, overindulging in things, behaviours (see also Anger Counselling & Anger Therapy), which don't support our healthy lifestyle, some of which can lead on to unhealthy habits or addictions (see also Our Biological Drives, Instincts, Urges, Impulses, Passion, Desires, Aspirations, Imagination). Balancing between withholding or sharing all our thoughts, and whether or not to share our feelings may be issues for us. Our self-control - the ability to control and take charge of our emotions, thoughts, behaviour & desires (and transform them when we need to) helps us establish good habits and can give us a sense of wellbeing, enhances our ability to focus, concentrate, and supports our ability to make good choices (e.g. do we choose to get frustrated, play, laugh, have fun, be carefree, lighthearted with our sense of humour). The counselling & psychotherapy can support us in cultivating, practising self-control in the areas where we need to. (See also Our Responsibility)

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What Are Personal Boundaries Boundaries are the physical and emotional limitations - the parameters we set for us - with or without others. They can be seen as the loving ways we take care of ourself. Our personal boundaries give us a frame - our own framework - what separates us from anyone else, and awareness of our boundaried and coherent sense of self - who we are as a separate human being helps us in creating boundaries. Our boundaries and parameters support us taking control of life's challenges, especially if we are feeling insecure or are overly affected by others. The boundaries and parameters we have support our will, so we are not easily captured by our desires, so we are not borderless. Our personal boundaries are our own caring protection field. They give us our internal structure, beginning with being grounded in our own body - our personal space where we begin & end. Similar to the borders of a country, our physical boundaries protect our bodies. How we feel about our body may be another influence. They are our internal support system helping us set limits on us and protect us from physical, emotional & mental overload. Our healthy boundaries can support our steadfastness in growing & flourishing from the inside out - our own ground & personal space. Our personal boundaries can support us, when things are daunting or if we are overwhelmed. They give us a greater emotional robustness (emotional boundaries, emotional resiliency) and support our toleration, perseverance, "stickability". Our personal boundaries and parameters can support us from getting distracted, help us focus. They are our foundation and assert "this is me". At a fundamental level our personal boundaries are when we are pushed so far that we say "No more". To build our healthy boundaries & protect us in the world, it helps to get to know our personal vulnerabilities, nurture, respect & care for us, respecting boundaries. Healthy boundaries support us with inevitable changes & conflicts. Our boundaries enable us to take personal responsibility and give us focus, enabling us to get us off any hooks we have put ourselves on. Boundaries counselling and boundary therapy can support you with your personal boundaries, setting boundaries.

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Setting Our Own Boundaries & Parameters Setting our boundaries can also support us in living our life for the good. The limits we choose to set are the personal boundaries and parameters we create. These limits enable us to support, nurture & protect us & be in healthy relationships with others. Our boundaries can also give us restraint when we need it, so we don't overdo things, e.g. remain aware of the impact of what we say, even in our relationship. And we can utilise our boundaries in how we respond to our uncomfortable feelings, thoughts. Maintaining boundaries is based on the relationship we have with ourselves (how we are with us), and when supported by our boundaries, we can manage ambivalence, contradictions & irritations by being able to tolerate things. As we acknowledge, listen & follow our own caring inner voice that positively guides our actions, trusting this - our conscience of what's right & wrong, we can make a commitment to care for ourselves in a way a good parent would. From this internal caring place we are less worried about how we are seen in the world, without the necessity to receive validation, approval, affirmation, reassurance, confirmation, permission, recognition, appreciation, praise, attention, adoration, admiration, acceptance from others, as we honour our internal sense of what is best for us, and that our actions will not harm others. Setting boundaries may be important to us and boundaries therapy and boundaries counselling may assist. In setting our healthy boundaries we may want to consider:

  • Valuing ourself, taking into account our best interests
  • Identifying what we want & need, what we desire in our heart or hearts
  • Setting our intention
  • Focusing on our values as boundaries in all we do
  • Being firm

How We & Others May Respond To Our Boundary Setting Some of us may falsely believe that when we set boundaries and parameters it enables us to control how others treat us. Yet we can only set our boundaries for us, not for others. We may ask others not to treat us in a certain way, yet they may, because we have set boundaries for them, not for us. Telling others that they should change doesn't mean that they will, and can disempower us. Although we have no control of how others treat us, we do have control of how we treat ourselves and how we respond to the ways others treat us. One challenge may be to remain openhearted, make self-compassion more of a priority, so we are still able to stay in a relationship with others without retaliating, trying other ways to control them. Therefore using our personal boundaries to disengage by compassionately managing our own uncomfortable feelings, may be important. Fully accepting our helplessness over other people's behaviour, that we are powerless over whether they are respectful, loving or not, does not mean that we are powerless in choosing our responses. A further challenge may be to compassionately manage our own feelings of loneliness or helplessness, maybe grief or heartbreak. And when we are compassionate to ourselves, then we will naturally be unavailable to other people's unacceptable behaviour, supported by setting our own boundaries that we don't like to be treated this way, and if others continue, we will leave. This can empower us. (See also Healthy Boundaries & Resilience In Relationships)

Setting Our Personal Boundaries & Parameters With Others Some of us may confuse boundaries with a way of controlling others. Stating our personal boundaries and parameters in a respectful & positive ways can benefit both us and others. If we don't want to allow ourselves to be influenced by others, making us do things beyond our values or at a level we feel uncomfortable with, our boundaries and parameters can support us. Our boundaries let people know who we are, what we want & are prepared to put up with and ways we want to be treated. They state our limits, what we are prepared to accept & tolerate. They let others know where we draw the line, so they know our limits and where we stand. Being in touch and effectively communicating our healthy expectations (adjusting unreasonable ones along the way), for example in how we allow others to treat us, defining our personal boundaries & ground rules (including ground rules in our relationship) supports our self. Our boundaries are unique to us and may not make sense to others. They need to be flexible, bending at times, dropping them at other times, especially when we are prepared to compromise. If someone encroaches on us, crosses our clear boundaries, then we can speak up in a firm, direct & honest way (see also Assertiveness).

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Our Personal Boundaries, Setting Boundaries & Our Parameters Can:

  • Support our life entitlement
  • Enable us to assert & validate who we are
  • Help us get our needs met
  • Protect & take care of our inner space by filtering what enters it
  • Enable us to take personal responsibility
  • Help us take our own particular stand, because it reflects who we are
  • Support our hardiness
  • Ground & anchor ourselves
  • Support our internal reference point
  • Support our commitment to us
  • Support our principles, less so our beliefs
  • Help us become our own guardians, with our own conscience, integrity, less loyal to externally imposed structures
  • Enable us to become less dependent on outcomes, less attached to what "should" happen
  • Help us weather setbacks, unpredictability, able to make sense of life, handling adversity
  • Help put the brakes on, and loosen them when we want to
  • Enable us to see things through (develop resilience, being resilient)
  • Help us to manage & filter our thoughts, e.g. "No, I am not going to go there with that thought"
  • Support our concentration
  • Help contain our feeIings, needs, desires & responses
  • Stop any unwanted cycles of behaviour
  • Support our selfcontrol, including any unhelpful habits & addictions
  • Empower & nurture us, by being open or vulnerable with others, yet wisely selecting who we talk to about our vulnerable thoughts & emotions (emotional boundaries, emotional resiliency)
  • Enable us to disengage from others, when they are treating us disrespectfully (respecting boundaries)
  • Help us not take things so personally, be more immune to other people's opinions, projections, actions or behaviours (most of what others do or say is not because of us)
  • Support our toleration
  • Help us to connect with us & others
  • Keeps us safe, make intimacy safe
  • Help us to manage our independence & dependence (living in an interdependent world, as individuals from different cultures, backgrounds, countries we all have our challenges in how to set appropriate limits, and to shape our own destiny, in relationship with others)
  • Bring focus & serenity in the midst of challenge or chaos
  • Put our attention to where we need to
  • Help us sustain what we need to sustain
  • Support us in what we do with our time, energy & resources

What We Resonate - Noticing Our Energy, Vibration What we put out energetically, transmit to others, whether we are too open or closed, available or unavailable, whether we are willing to expand or contract, comes from our own intent influencing the outcome and the counselling & psychotherapy can explore this further (see also Our Inner Strength, Inner Will - Being Internally Powerful, Personal Will, Personal Power, Personal Empowerment). The counselling may include looking at the influence of our consciousness, thoughts, perceptions, attitude, feelings, desires, momentum, beliefs and actions and how we envision things, are in our self and body, what energises us (Chinese culture refers to our life energy as qi, chi, ki), vibrates in us (see also Internal Interconnectedness - Connecting Consciousness To Our Past, Present, Future, Sensing Our Aliveness, Space Beyond Us), affecting what we attract, repel, transform. We are a complex pattern of energies and may also want to be in touch with the different forms of energy: the energy of nature, the will, our physical energy, vitality, our sexual energy, spiritual energy, the energy of love, our emotional energy, the energy of anger, how we might de-press our energy, our creative energy, our being in the moment, our relationship to others' energies (so we are not easily invaded by others' energies, vibrations) and the wider world.

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Boundaries In Childhood Affecting Us Now When we were young we receive a range of subtle & direct boundaries - healthy, loving, firm, fair, consistent, flexible, too tight, too loose, invasive, intrusive, abandoning, controlling, inconsistent, chaotic or non-existent. Our boundaries may have been transgressed and we may continue to transgress our own boundaries now. What wasn't tolerated as a child may be a boundary issue for us now as if at some level we are still living as an eternal child. As children we have little influence on our boundaries - now as adults we are freer to choose. Setting boundaries and building healthy relationships (see also Relationship Style, Attachment Patterns) can be a challenge as adults, if we didn't receive appropriate models when younger. Boundaries counselling, boundaries therapy can be a space to reflect on impact of boundaries on us when younger and build upon our own healthy boundaries now.

Early Influences Affecting Our Boundaries Now Through early, healthy relationships we gain a solid sense of who we are with our boundaries. These early relationships help us connect to us and with others. Our experience through relationships with others, teaches us what works for us, and what doesn't where also as we are loved, accepted exactly as we are this enables us to accept, love ourselves.

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Renegotiating Our Personal Boundaries & Parameters Now Without healthy boundaries and parameters, it is as if something was lost or removed in our childhood. This can affect how we express and get our needs met, and how we receive & give - our intimacy needs. Therefore for some of us, something can be missing as we try to make sense of the world, believing that others have the solution. We may withdraw, try to fit in, overanalyse, or forever be striving to work things out. What might have been lost in our early relationships, has the potential to be healed through our relationships now, as an adult. How our boundaries and parameters affect our relationships can be considered in the boundaries counselling & boundaries therapy.

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Protecting Our Space From time to time we all need our personal space, free of interruptions, distractions, disruptions, even if they are pleasant ones. We may not be able to stop this altogether, yet it may be a challenge for us to protect our space, let people know when we are available, unavailable, not allow ourself to be interrupted so easily, asking others to be clear about what point they are making (clear boundaries). How we politely, yet assertively do this may be challenging. Listening to those close to us we may sometimes get drawn into their emotional state, which might not always be helpful. Our emotional boundaries (filtering our emotional expression at times, our thoughts) and being centred in our ground may support us with this, and this can be considered in the boundaries counselling work.

Self-Support As we recognise the importance of achieving what we want, some of us may want to create healthy boundaries to support us in our emotional & psychological health, and intrinsic sense of worth. Healthy personal boundaries give us a sense of safety & security in the world, especially in times of emotional pressure. Setting boundaries can give us the capacity to nurture & affirm who we are & support us in how we are with our self. Having our own personal boundaries and asserting them is our own way of protecting & caring, so we don't abandon us. When we feel overwhelmed, we may want to take responsibility for how we respond to this, and different ways of responding work for different people.

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Flexible Boundaries, Adaptable Boundaries Healthy boundaries can be flexible when needed, so we are fluid, adjusting to change and the unexpected, behaving or responding differently if we need to. Our personal boundaries and parameters, assisted by flexibility, adaptability, can help us become less invaded, more resilient, tolerating the effects of our experiences & connected to who we are (internal resilience). For example, we know when emotions are ours and when they end (about us) & another person's emotions are theirs and when they begin (about them) - emotional boundaries, emotional resiliency. Adaptable, flexible boundaries can also help us respond to the unknown, unpredictable. It can be important to be focused, yet flexibility is also important, so we make the best & creative use of everything, adapting to situations as they arise. Living, thinking, understanding, behaving in inflexible ways may not support us. Being firm yet having flexible boundaries maybe a challenge. Knowing when to move from firm or fixed boundaries to a more flexible boundaries and parameters may help us. Some of us therefore may want to enable our boundaries to be adaptable & flexible, especially to do with our thinking, behaviour. Having our heart open, being in touch with our imagination & creativity may support our flexibility. Boundaries counselling & boundary therapy can help investigate your flexible boundaries.

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Breaking Boundaries We may have urges, needs & desires, want to do & say things that might not always be in our best interest (see also Self-Sabotage, Destruction). Most of us have had the experience of hearing a guiding voice inside us, that says "No, it's best not to do that", but we go ahead and do it anyway, transgressing our boundaries, even though we are reasonably sure that the outcome won't be good to us, or will harm others. Breaking boundaries for us may have become automatic and we may want to free up our options, so breaking boundaries becomes more of a choice than an automatic response. Setting boundaries which we are willing to stick to without transgressing them may be challenging and the boundaries counselling, boundaries therapy can consider this with you.

Respecting Boundaries It may be important for us to respect boundaries. We may struggle to respect boundaries - however good, finding it hard to say in a respecting & caring way, something like "No, I'm not going to do that, even though I want to - if I did, it goes against my grain & I may mess my, or others Iives up."

Holding & Maintaining Boundaries Sometimes our fear or guilt when we say "No" can make it hard for us to stick to our boundaries and parameters. We may fear rejection, abandonment or become dependent on validation, approval, affirmation, reassurance, confirmation, permission, recognition, appreciation, praise, attention, adoration, admiration, acceptance, not wanting to upset others, including our partner, be afraid of confrontations, try to please. Having self control, setting boundaries, maintaining boundaries is something we may struggle with. We may find it hard to honour ourselves with real commitment, in a way that is nurturing, loving, supporting & protecting as a good parent would. This aspect of holding & maintaining our boundaries can be included in the boundaries counselling.

Wanting Instant Results - Instant Gratification For certain areas in our life we may be seeking a quick fix, struggling to delay immediate results, manage our anxiety, seeking instant gratification (often through our unhelpful habits or addictions). We may have an insatiable instant need of gratification - treating us & others as objects, which at some level may be linked to our uncomfortable, unbearable feelings. Our urges may be strong and transmuting them into something more creative may be challenging. We may struggle to see the bigger picture - look to the longer term, hold our boundaries without transgressing, be in touch with our source of motivation. We may want to find ways of utilising our boundaries in delaying our gratification (deferring gratification), being anchored, centred and grounded in our own body, so we don't get easily carried away in situations and the therapy can support us with this.

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Supporting Our Self-Esteem Our "self" is supported when we have our internal boundaries, which in turn boosts our esteem. Our internal resilience, hardiness & healthy boundaries can protect us from our "buttons being pressed" and our over-sensitivity or responding to our hooks, triggers.

Appropriateness of Setting Boundaries Our personal boundaries and parameters (e.g. rigid, fluid, adaptable, flexible, barrier, loose, porous, uncontained, clear) can serve & limit us and are dependent on many factors (e.g. how we adapt to situations). Some people may want to look at this in the boundaries counselling.

Unhealthy Boundaries Our unhealthy boundaries may include on the one hand sharing too much - believing we have to share all our thoughts, or have to express all our feelings (oversharing), doing things we don't really want to do. On the other hand, being able to express our feelings, needs may be important for others.

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Rigid Boundaries It is important we have ways to protect ourselves. Yet some of us can have overly rigid boundaries (often linked to processing the same fixed, beliefs, concrete thinking, all-or-nothing thinking - keeping the brain in the same pattern) and actions, inactions, holding on to inflexible, redundant rules, old roles, fixed identifications, behaviours like a solid wall of protection (e.g. stubbornness, we would rather be right than happy). We may try to abuse our power, control others, situations, circumstances. Others may withdraw, even sulk (often because we have hurt feelings or emotional pain), shut down, close off as we put up our wall with an impermeable boundary. We may become depressed. Frozen inside, we may become stiff, closed or find it hard to let people in, love, care or nurture us, or receive physical affection. Defended, we can put up resistances, barriers & road blocks, have rigid perspectives, relating states. We may sometimes unhelpfully hold on to rigid views (see also The "Should", "Shouldn't", "Ought", "Must", "Never", "Always" Beliefs). Boundaries therapy & boundaries counselling can explore the advantages, disadvantages of rigid boundaries, roadblocks and any useful road maps (including integrating our shadow), as a way forward if that is our need. In our relationship we may have healthy boundaries or have put up walls have disengaged from our partner.

And I've got a wall around me
That you can't even see
It took a little time
To get next to me
Paul Simon

Barrier Boundaries To protect us, when we felt unsafe as children & later growing up, we separated from danger, which we needed to do. However we may have continued to close off, shut down, cut off a part of us (including our vulnerability, tenderness) by creating boundaries between us & what we perceive as threatening. Yet we may be keeping us & others out in ways we may no longer need to or hold on to our grief, unshed tears. We may continue to subtly or overtly use ways of protecting ourself, which we still need at times, yet they may not be so necessary now. The boundary we use can also become a barrier, if we are always ready for attack, be on the defence or become a frightened observer.

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Loose, Porous Or Uncontained Boundaries Some people can have boundaries which are loose, and can struggle in setting boundaries with others (see also Self-Control). Others can have strong or rigid boundaries in certain areas, yet have holes in other areas. We may have developed porous boundaries, feel uncontained at times (and for some of us this may be connected to struggling to grow up or certain conditions, e.g. ADD/ADHD). Tending to soak things up, like a sponge, we can end up with porous boundaries, easily punctured, allowing others to take advantage of us, not knowing we have the right to stop this or how to stop this. We may allow things to engulf us, fear engulfment in our relationship or over-give. Our own invasive thoughts may become too intrusive, letting go of these may be important, as can deciding whether we need to share all our thoughts, feelings, tears with others. We may find it difficult to protect ourselves from emotional, sexual, physical or even religious or spiritual invasion. We may become controlled or manipulated. The counselling can support you with setting boundaries.

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Setting Clear Boundaries - Our Parameters Sometimes the fuzzy boundaries we set can be blurred, unclear (some of which may date back to our attachment patters, reflecting our relationship style now). We may discover that having clear boundaries and parameters communicates our self-worth and is important for us and for others, so we are not vague (see also Being Vague, Being Clear When We Need To in our relationships). It may be a challenge for some to clarify what our boundaries, parameters are and then articulate our clear boundaries, especially responding to someone's negative energy through taking loving action. When we have clear boundaries and parameters, we are in touch with our separateness and uniqueness, and the therapy can support you in setting boundaries. We individuate, and are able to express and respond from our own values, conscience, integrity & principles. We may want to notice what happens when he have clear boundaries and when we don't. The counselling can support you in setting clear boundaries and parameters. (See also Difficulties Being In Touch With & Asking For What We Need, How To Know, Name & Respect Our Needs - Speaking Up For Ourselves & Letting Others, Our Partner Know What Works Best For Us)

Our Will For some people acknowledging the importance of taking care of themselves is one challenge, and the further challenge may be to do it - make it happen. Our boundaries can also support us with our motivation & what we are determined to do. Our will can also support us when setting boundaries and this can be included in the boundary therapy work together.

Relationships Having clear boundaries between ourself and others may be important. Our personal boundaries will affect our relationships in many ways (e.g. enmeshment, co-dependency) - for details see Healthy Boundaries & Resilience In Relationships & Being Autonomous Yet Part Of A Couple.

Being Resilient, Hardy

Take a deep breath,
Dust yourself off,
Pick yourself up,
Start all over again.
Dorothy Fields
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Internal Resilience We all need to heal our wounds. We also need the right nourishment to develop resilience, sustainability, hardiness & to be in our own ground, so our physical & emotional needs are met or are in balance, that we are able to adapt to change, no different to that of healthy plants (see also Relationship Style, Attachment Patterns). Our inner strength and personal will helps determine how we are in responding to challenges. Our emotional resilience (being able to ride, withstand and respond to the challenges life throw at us (e.g. loneliness, heartbreak, grief, loss, helplessness, pain, hurt), bounce back, grow and strengthen), psychological resilience (linked to our esteem, sense of independence) and hardiness can be supported by both who we are & what we do, tending to our own needs (see Externally Based Sense Of Worth, Unworthiness), our commitment, sense of control, and ability to see events as challenges, in which we can grow without being diminished or remain immersed in self pity. We may need to know when to stop and think and when to act and other times to notice what we are thinking and how this makes us feel - if thinking unhelpfully we can choose to think resilient thoughts, affirmations so we feel calm, able to face challenges. None of us go through life unscathed, without failures, disappointments, difficulties, setbacks, and our internal resilience is also determined by how much we let go, the choices we make when we respond to life's adversities, challenges without disintegrating. We can learn to hold our wounds that were previously raw, overwhelming to buffet ourself against storms, to be anchored, centred, grounded. What others do around us can't rock our boat - only we can rock our boat. And part of building the personal toolkit of our internal resilience, robustness, includes no longer abandoning ourself, being in our loving adult with our determination, open to love, physically fit, accepting, expressing our vulnerability, our natural buoyancy, vitality, that nothing can bring us down, destabilise us so we also don't victimise ourself. What we can courageously draw from inside our character (e.g. our good humour, perseverance) also becomes our resilience supported by our will power and resolve, ability to withstand adversity, our deliberate self-control, as we hold our deep belief that we can flexibly handle what comes our way, find alternative approaches without being overly-rigid and the resilience counselling and resilience therapy can support us with promoting resilience, sustaining the things, which support our resilience. We may want to be in a resilient relationship.

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Nothing is so strong as gentleness, and nothing is so gentle as true strength. Ralph W. Sockman

Building Our Resilience What supports our resilience may include:

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Elbert Hubbard

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