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On Resilience

What do we mean we say about a person that he is resilient? We mean that he can recover from a setback and continue moving forward.

Resilience requires that we:

  • Accept what happened, or is happening.
  • Be clear about our feelings in the situation.
  • Understand for ourselves what this blow means to us.

None of this is easy, because growing from events which cause us pain never is. But each element will develop us and make us deeper and wiser. Let us look at each of these aspects in turn.

Finding The Strength to Accept The Situation

When we have to acknowledge a blunder or are confronted by an overwhelming situation, our first impulse may be to minimize it or avoid thinking about it. This is human. But in order to deal with it in the most reality-based way, we will have to give ourselves room and time to think about it.

It is really helpful to talk to someone. Sharing our fears in tough times makes it all less overwhelming.  Everyone needs support.

What Are We Feelng?

What are feelings for, anyway? Feelings tell us how we perceive reality. The key word here is “perceive”.

When we are feeling overwhelmed, it means that we perceive the challenge before us as just too much  for us. When we have suffered a catastrophic loss, we may feel that it is the end of the world. What matters right now is that this is how we feel. When we can put what happened or is happening into words and clarify to ourselves how we feel.

It is important to realize that while we are in the grip of strong emotions, we cannot think clearly. Strong emotions hijack the mind. This is the normal, human condition. We need to give ourselves time  to let our strong feelings subside – and it does take time. When we are feeling calmer, we can then go on to think things through.

When the Stressful Situation Goes On and On

We are currently dealing with a pandemic, and we may be doing so for some time. Staying resilient while enduring ongoing disruption, confusion and anxiety is a real test. And we must face the fact that ongoing stress with no end in sight is going to exacerbate our individual vulnerabilities. All we can do is accept the new normal.

We have no choice but to take things as they come, and trust in ourselves that we will find the resources and people to help us do the best we can. For those of us who feel more secure “knowing in advance”, and feel more comfortable planning for the future, “taking it as it comes” and dealing in an ongoing way with the unknown is a real challenge. When each day brings new uncertainties, it can make a person feel unmoored and disoriented, floating and directionless – lost in space. How to deal? Well, the best thing to do (and all we can do) is to sit down and try to organize our minds, to think about what we do know. What are the facts right now? Do I need more information in order to know what I have to do? If so, how can I reliably obtain it? After these efforts we have done all we can. There is nothing else do to but to have faith that time will bring serenity.


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