“The wound is the place where the light enters you.” (Rumi)

Life happens. This is to say, things don’t always go the way we plan, and we experience
painful setbacks in life. We lose a good job, suffer relationship heartbreaks, or experience the
death of a loved one, and may feel like giving up. But it is these harsh experiences that transform
our lives by helping us develop resilience to overcome life’s challenges, especially in the areas of
self-awareness, personal, and posttraumatic growth.

Enshrined as one of the pillars of the Positive Psychology Movement, resilience is a concept
as old as the seas, but its psychological importance to human development and the maintenance
of well-being cannot be disputed.

In its broadest definition, resilience is defined as the ability to bounce back from adversity. In
an article on the “Make It” platform published on cnbc.com, Ece Yildirim describes Kellerman
and Seligman’s definition of resilience as one of the best: “the ability to feel neutral – or even
positive – when you face challenge or failure.” (Kellerman & Seligman, 2023).

In her article, Yildirim identified the five elements of resilience proposed by Kellerman and
Seligman as: optimism, cognitive agility, self-compassion, self-efficacy, and emotional
regulation. While most of these elements are familiar, cognitive agility is the relative newcomer.
It refers to the ability to visualize various outcomes of a problem before making a final decision
on which solution to adopt. In effect, resilience could well be one of the most important
predictors of psychological self-awareness and emotional well-being.

From a psychological perspective, the “wound” can be a precursor of deepening emotional
intelligence. When we experience an emotionally wounding event, our resilience helps us to
recognize, process, and manage our emotions. This leads to an increased understanding and
appreciation of our personality, values, and motivations, ultimately increasing our self-
awareness. In a practical illustration, a person, for instance, may face a series of rejections in job
applications. Instead of succumbing to despair, he or she will utilize these experiences to broaden
their professional skills and eventually secure a position that aligns better with their skills and

Another relevance of Rumi’s “wound” is in the area of healing from trauma. Prior research in
this area tended to focus on the lasting effects of trauma, as shown in treatment interventions for
PTSD. In recent times, however, the focus has shifted to life after trauma, or Posttraumatic
Growth (PTG), with current research being spearheaded by Tedeschi and Calhoun (1995),
among others. PTG refers to the positive changes that occur within oneself as a result of the
struggle with traumatic events.

Tedeschi and his fellow researchers report that individuals who have been through a traumatic
experience often report a positive change and newfound appreciation for life. For instance,
someone may be struggling with the loss of a loved one. In order to heal, such a person may
undertake grief counseling and join support groups. Through these resources, they may regain a
sense of purpose, meaning, and develop a deeper appreciation for the present.

The “wound” can also be a catalyst for a growth mindset, which is broadly defined as the
belief that one’s abilities and intelligence can only be developed through dedication and hard
work, and is often a reaction to failures in our relationships, academic lives, careers, and
business. For instance, a student struggling with a particularly challenging course employs

resilience by seeking help, joining a study group, and utilizing campus resources. This proactive
approach may not only help him scale over the immediate academic hurdle but also instill a
lifelong blue-print for tackling future challenges.

What are some practical steps to develop resilience in our lives?

One way is to cultivate a growth mindset: the belief that our abilities and intelligence can be
developed through constant dedication and hard work. Learn to see every problem or setback as
an opportunity to learn, overcome, and grow. A growth mindset keeps you resilient and helps
you bounce back from setbacks, ultimately propelling you towards your goals.

Another way is to seek mentorship and support from your network. Surround yourself with a
supportive network of individuals who believe in your potential, offer advice, feedback, and
accountability. Regular check-ins and discussions about progress helps you stay focused and
motivated. Make an effort to join communities or groups related to your goals, as they provide
valuable networking opportunities and insights.

In essence, Rumi’s poetic wisdom finds not just theoretical but also practical backing in the
lives of everyday people. The “wounds” we experience, whether in our personal lives, health,
relationships, academics, or careers, are not mere setbacks; they are opportunities for learning,
growth, and transformation. In Rumi’s vision of the world, these wounds lead to the epiphany of
pain: they are the broken places where the “light” of self-awareness, resilience, and a growth
mindset can enter us, guiding us towards a more fulfilling life.

– Johnson Arloo

Phone: 615-777-9303
165 Chestnut Drive Ste C
Madison, AL 35758