Tuesday, January 14, 2014

So What Is Resilience Anyway? ...

We have the human capacity to become resilient, which allows
us to deal with the bombardment of events causing so much stress.
And in dealing with these events we become stronger, more confident in our abilities, more sensitive to the stress others are
experiencing and even more able to bring about change to minimize or eradicate sources of stress ...      

Edith Grotberg

Hi everyone! Welcome to our new year-long focus on the art of resilience. There will be posts on other things from time to time, as issues shimmer into my awareness, but resilience will be at the heart of our musings for 2014.

During the years my husband and I walked by the lake in the very early hours of the morning, we frequently enjoyed deep, questioning conversations about a broad range of topics - personality development, spirituality, nature, music, politics, art, literature and many others (- in between the more mundane ones about schedules, meal planning and the odd argument or two!). When either of us presented a question, the other invariably asked some variation of, "Well, it depends on what you mean by that? You need to define your terms." So, that's what I want to do today - to define our term, resilience.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines resilience as:
The ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity; or the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.

Linda Graham, author of Bouncing Back: Rewiring Your Brain for Maximum Resilience and Well-Being offers a slightly different definition:
The capacity to respond to pressures and tragedies quickly, adaptively and effectively. 

I would go a little further and say that resilience is more than just responding well to current difficulties. It also includes developing the wisdom to avoid some of life's potholes and learning the tools to withstand situations that seem over-long and insurmountable. It also involves changing and becoming as the result of the challenges we meet - an opportunity to become weller than well or more whole than we would have thought possible prior to the problem or crisis. Given this, the definition I would prefer is that of psychologist and author of Resilience for Today, Edith Grotberg:
Resilience is the human capacity to deal with, overcome, learn from, or even be transformed by the inevitable adversities of life.

And to go a step further still, when we become transformed, we can then be of greater service to those around us. Our growth and transformation allow us to become more open conduits of love, groundedness, wisdom and calm for others enduring trying times and we have the opportunity to become activists to alter the original sources of our stress.

Put differently, there is a sense of higher consciousness or spiritual development that can evolve as our resilience builds. We become more whole within ourselves and, thus, more able to pass on tools of resilience to our loved ones and to the broader world.

No comments: