For a long time I have been thinking about resilience. I see so many of my clients doing deep healing work and feeling less 'triggered 'and more resourced, more self-nurtured and self-compassionate. More...resilient. Moving forward! And it makes me curious about the notion of resilience.
Here are two explanations of resilience:
"the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; or, the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity"; or this from the American Psychological Association: www.apa.org/helpcenter/road-resilience.aspx "Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress — such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems or workplace and financial stressors. It means "bouncing back" from difficult experiences."
These qualities - recovery, elasticity, re-framing, bouncing back, nurturing oneself, being kind to oneself are qualities I see in clients over time. NOT a rush to get 'well', or a hasty denial of what happened. Or how one feels. But a strong sense of self in body and mind and heart: I can do this.
And interestingly, resilience is not necessarily something one is born with: it can be learned, practiced and developed in most people.
Another good source, I believe, is the series of podcasts from Dr. Rick Hanson: click here for the first podcast soundcloud.com/being-well/season-2-episode-1-introducing-resilience.
The above link is the first in a five-part podcast starting with "What is Resilience"? The following weeks the topics, related to resilience are: "Being on your own side"; "Self-compassion"; "Acceptance"; and "Enjoying life".
So how resilient are you? Do you want to learn how? Look for a four-week group I am starting in the new year, Monday January 7th to the 28th: Let's Talk About Resilience. In a small group setting I will give people the opportunity to explore individually, and with each other, their resilience: what it is for them and how they might learn, practice and strengthen their ability to recover or 'bounce back'. How to make lemonade when you are handed lemons!
Watch for it! Much love.
My heart is full this morning. I have come to a hallmark birth-day, this one a 'large number'! And I am so grateful for my life.
And I am grateful for the work I do and the people I interact with. I was at a therapist's training yesterday and looking around I sensed and could see the dedication and intention of each person in the room to do good, to help, to assist those in need. What a beautiful way to offer ones' self to the world.
And in each encounter with my lovely and precious clients, I am reminded again and again of how any goodness I might sense or feel, or that might be acknowledged is simply a reflection of the beauty of the person sitting across from me. The inner strength, the allies and resources, the lineage that has pushed them forward to do their healing. To break the patterns of dysfunction going back generations. To love and cherish their loved ones and progeny.
How much hope is there in that: each generation tries valiantly to do better than the previous one.
I am not naive enough to realize that is not everyone. But I truly believe it is most of us. Moving forward. Healing. Doing our work. Shining our lights brighter and brighter all the time.
So I am convinced more and more that I am simply a mirror. Reflecting. Loving. Encouraging. Gently 'pushing' and nudging each of us toward wholeness in all ways: body, mind, heart and soul.
One of the best parts of my work is helping people realize that many of the beliefs and values they think are 'theirs', are not. That we 'take on' or 'introject' beliefs, values, behaviors as small children. We take these on as a mechanism to survive. If you live in a family where you are not seen for who you are, if you are devalued as a child and not shown any respect, in order to survive a child must align with caretakers/parents. Aligning means safety. Aligning means survival.
However, I know personally that it feels as if the beliefs, the values, the attitudes, even the behaviors are mine. In therapy I have had to confront, or be confronted kindly with the question: is that your belief about yourself or about the world? Is that a behavior that was learned? Whose voice is that you hear when you are acting in that way? And how old is that voice? That behavior?
During sessions if a client talks about depression, deep grief, loneliness, despair I might ask the same as above: whose voice is it that you hear? Who else in your family - even going back a generation or two - had those same beliefs? Those same attitudes and behaviors? And how old is that part of you that is clinging to those things which are not yours? That you 'took on' or introjected as a child trying to be safe and stay alive?
It is a sobering experience. I remember. And it takes time and compassion, kindness to slowly recognize the voices, the behaviors, the attitudes. The beliefs. It reminds me of this poem by Mary Oliver.
One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you kept shouting their bad advice--
though the whole house began to tremble
and you felt the old tug at your ankles.
"Mend my life!" each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do, though the wind pried with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations, though their melancholy was terrible.
It was already late enough, and a wild night, and the road full of fallen
branches and stones. But little by little, as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn through the sheets of clouds, and there was a new voice
which you slowly recognized as your own, that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper into the world, determined to do
the only thing you could do-- determined to save
the only life you could save.
It is a remarkable thing, a true gift to be able to help people stop listening to those old voices, slowly pry those stiff fingers away and stride 'deeper and deeper into the world'.
It is a remarkable thing to assist others in saving their own lives.