Resilience—what a miraculous word! What a hope-inspiring word! What a gift, when we understand and embrace it.
- the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
- the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity.
Synonyms: jump back, recoil, buoyancy, spring
From Harvard Business Review and what it means to us.
In “The Failure-Tolerant Leader,” Richard Farson and Ralph Keyes argue for essentially sidestepping the need for resilience by creating an environment in which both setbacks and successes are treated as positive learning experiences. Leaders can create a constructive environment by breaking down social and bureaucratic barriers separating them from their followers, engaging at a personal level with the people they lead, openly admitting their own mistakes, and – perhaps surprisingly – avoiding giving out either praise or blame, and instead taking a nonjudgmental, analytical posture as they interact with staff. In “Building Resilience,” University of Pennsylvania psychology professor Martin Seligman similarly argues that businesses can help employees become more resilient. Drawing on insights from a U.S. Army program that helps soldiers bounce back after trauma, Penn’s Resiliency Program teaches students to think positively about setbacks so they don’t learn helplessness.
All of us face setbacks, difficulties. We get “Lifed.” We get knocked down. Maybe for you it’s a physical hit—cancer, chronic fatigue, shingles, recurrent colds or allergies that kick you in the butt, maybe it was a car accident or a fall. Maybe you’re among those of us who experienced a loss unexpected and overwhelming—loss of a dream, loss of a job you counted on, loss of a spouse, a friend, a child. The older I get, the more I work with people seeking natural solutions and drawn to Heart Nature, the more I come to see that these are NOT rare occurrences. They are not necessarily even avoidable. They happen to all of us, indiscriminately.
And it sucks. But in my life I have the privilege to watch resilience unfold in those around more. Bouncing back even stronger and more vibrant from tragedy, drama, pain or loss. It’s AMAZING to witness and inspiring. Because it reminds me that we are not passive victims of the fates or life. We are active participants and co-creators—we are not HELPLESS or HOPELESS. We have endless reservoirs of support and supply available to us. Many times though, we are unaware of those and they remain untapped.
When we face difficulties and challenges and BELIEVE that we can be resilient, they truly do become stepping stones to more joy and vibrancy and goodness in our lives. I will stand and testify to that. But resiliency doesn’t just happen. It’s a conscious choice. It’s a work of exploration and cultivation. It’s powerful and exciting and much of it happens deep underground, deep within during quiet midnight hours and dark nights of the soul and behind closed doors where no one else can see. Sometimes we don’t feel the strength to even begin. And that’s okay. Because there are little, teeny tiny things that you CAN access to crack open the doors and develop the strength that will carry you through.
It doesn’t happen alone. There are secrets to resilience to be shared. Those I see who are MOST resilient have been willing to trust enough—to believe that if they share their pain and heartache and need that they will be embraced and supported. When we are willing to break through the barriers of the need to look like we have it all together and allow ourselves to connect with others as REAL, vulnerable, struggling, we ACTUALLY discover we are not alone. We are among friends and those friends aren’t there to fix us, they are there to walk with us because they too have been “Lifed” in some way. This willingness to connect can be ONE key to developing resilience and bouncing back. Finding a community or even just a few individuals who are willing and able to connect without judgement—sharing their own struggles as well and not “fixing” the other—THIS is key as well. Because, as Brene Brown points out in her book, The Gifts of Imperfection, not everyone person or community is a safe place to bear your heart and grow resilience. Choose carefully. People have to EARN the right to hear your heart stories. (BTW, her book is an amazing treatise in developing resilience in this way.)
On the flip side, watch out! Take note that SHARING our challenges and struggles is not the same as BEING our drama. Elizabeth Gilbert shared beautifully in Big Magic, Creative Living Beyond Fear, about how sometimes we become attached to this idea of Suffering. We may romanticize it or decide that our suffering is what makes us special. There exists the idea that to be of value, we must somehow be struggling. So sometimes we hold fast to our pain, thinking that IT IS us and we interact with the world solely from that place.
Can we let it go? Can we choose to NOT be defined by our experiences? We must if we desire to be resilient. We cannot hold onto our painful story AND move forward into a resilient, thriving life. Learn from it, yes. Extract gifts and lessons and compassionate awareness and connection to others through it, yes. But become our pain? Allow it to define us? No. If we want to bounce back, to thrive, to experience more life and joy and create NEW stories, we must choose to let go.
In the Chronicles of Narnia, the children stumble into a land where “It is always winter and never Christmas.” To me, this dark, unending winter of dormancy is the epitome of what it feels like to experience loss without the hope of resilience. We go dead and cold. We wait, but the celebration never arrives. Nothing can bloom or grow. We can choose to stay in that story forever and some do. But if you feel like you’re in that space, I’m here to share hope. When Aslan the Lion arrived, that magic spell was broken. And Father Christmas arrived, and slowly, ever so slowly, little signs of spring began to appear.
There are many paths to spring, to resilience, to new life after tragedy or setbacks. There are many, many supports out there that light the path. This week I want to hit on a few for you to explore if you find yourself in that winter space desiring the cultivate resilience. Are you willing to to hope even if it looks or feels hopeless? We’ll hold that hope for you here at Heart Nature. This week I’ll share some ways I’ve cultivated resilience and stories of others in our community that inspire with their amazing resiliency.
Just as pain and trials are no respecter of persons, I believe that hope and resilience are available for all as well. No one can do the work of hope and excavation and building that resilience muscle for you. But you won’t be alone while you do it. We are here for you as we link arms in our journey along the path.
- Posted by Dawn Behm
- On June 1, 2017
- 0 Comments