Earlier this year, like most of us in 2020, I found myself in the midst of doubts about a job loss. Like most, I tumbled upon the Linkedin Learning on Resilience. Though I can’t seem to recall much of what was covered in the learning capsule, I started researching on the word origin.
So, the word resilience comes from 2 words in Latin – ‘Re salire’
‘Re’ – in latin means ‘Returning’ and ‘Salire’ – in latin means ‘leap back or jump back’
As I researched on the the word and read more on this particular human characteristic, it reminded me how much this word defines our present times.
While our previous generations primarily (70’s to the early 90’s) came largely from lower middle class families with parents in government jobs, teachers, engineers who worked for a number of years with one employer, they experienced what I call, a life of dreaming of ‘a better tomorrow’. Depending on the part of the India, that one grew up in, there was a constant reminder of shortage, minimalism, conservation and the idea that ‘life is tough’.
Our parents still take much pleasure in watching movies of that era as a reminder of how little did they value ‘things; and treasured ‘time and people’ around them. In the absence of technology and connectivity, languishing lives were often a part of how things ended.
But the world we live in is different.
Time and change are words we use synchronously. And it isn’t even too far apart. Decisions change within less that 4 – 6 hours. Research shows that in a day a person makes 35,000 choices – the most trivial to life-altering.
And many of them have lasting impact.
Resilience is ‘bouncing back’, when that impact hits home. As a working mother, parenting teaches so much on resilience. The moments I have failed as a parent to show my child the person she ought to be, becomes a moment to spring back up – Recognise, Apologise and have the ‘Let’s try that, again’ attitude.
As a female colleague at the workplace (with a gap of 3 – 6yr) non-corporate work experience, you are tested – skills, acceptance and constant decision changes for the sake of the well being of the business, is the place one can feel ‘disabled’ – Resilience here, for me, is acknowledging change, opening my mind and heart to know that there will be an impact and sometimes, as tough as that maybe, being the goalee, at that goal post, when the hardest kick is what you have been served.
As a woman hitting her forties, resilience shows up in the form of acknowledging that we live in a broken world, a world with broken promises, while still yearning to fulfil them to the best extent possible.
Resilience is bouncing back – HBR’s article by Diane Coutu on How Resilience works is a great read. As the article points us to the fact that many people survived intense pain and agony, by being realistic of a time when that pain would end. And dreaming of how they could use that pain to contribute to others who do not have the language or the empowerment to speak even to themselves about ‘pain’, which is a life of constant self-denial, lack of appreciation and choice.
My addition to that article would be that one truly needs a heart of resilience, not just actions that carry that out. A heart of resilience is where resolves are made. A resolve to experience every element of pain. While for me this understanding comes from reading and understanding my faith (and not positive psychology or humanism), I offer here what most researchers have found out over the last couple of years.
- Data shows that chasing happiness can make people unhappy
- Though life expectancy has drastically improved in our time and age, we have become too resistant and sensitive to pain. There has been a 30% increase in suicide rates in the US alone, as of 2017. This is a country claiming to provide its citizens, the best living standards that exist.
- A life of ease is dangerous – It makes us forget our purpose
Let me also bring in some clarity between some of the common terms we may interchangeably use:
- Resilience is NOT ‘Suppression’ : The act of Resilience is different from the act of suppression, where a ‘wrong’ is accepted as ‘right’. Tolerating abuse, harassment and human rights violation is NOT resilience.
- Resilience is NOT tolerating pain that’s self inflicted : The act of causing ‘pain to oneself’, physically or mentally, is arising from a place of not having choice. This too is NOT resilience.
- Resilience is NOT grief : The act of grieving is deeply recognising loss. But that alone is not enough.
Resilience is ‘Bouncing Back’ – Resilience is bouncing back to face the curve balls that life throws at you. With the attitude of ‘Bring it on, Baby! I will catch you’
- Resilience is a resolve to suffer well – to be open, to be joyful, to be in a receiving posture for life, for sake of making life meaningful in a way that matters to you.
- Resilience is an active conversation with yourself – Readying your mind, body and soul that you are entering a day, a season, a permanent phase of life, accepting loss and/or willing to undergo change and the pain associated with that change
- Resilience is a choice that one is taking, when an alternate easier path (or a perceived easier path!) may exist before you
Dear reader – Like me, I know that life has posed some tough moments to you. Reflect on the moment. Reach out to understand what is your act of Resilience and your thoughts around it. Structure those thoughts around some of these : Be true to yourself as you answer them.
- What is the new resolve that you want to choose? A change you know you need?
- What real, hard facts are available to you, at this point, of the area of your life that needs change?
- What actions have you taken in light of these facts?
- What emotions do you feel in your body towards the actions you have taken so far?
Let me share an example.
If you have been a spendthrift this last year and have raked up debt on credit cards and loans, and are running away, in the understanding that you will be able to pay them off in a jiffy, I am inviting you to a deeper conversation with yourself.
- Resolves – Are you committed to a debt-free life? Are you committed to using money in a manner that builds and creates value for your self and others? Are you committed to allowing money to be a enabler and not a controlling factor of your life?
- Facts – What is the total debt amount? If divided, how many months will it take you to drive it down to zero outstanding? To pay it at the pace with the least interest being levied, what changes do you need to make?
- Actions – What actions have you taken so far? Are you satisfied? What will satisfy you? What will be the optimum way to handle this? Are there any first steps that you can take today or this?
- Emotions – What emotions do you experience, as you reflect and make these new resolves? Are these emotions empowering you? How often do you want to revisit these notes for you to re-align yourself to this resolve?
I’m sure your question may be that this seems more like ‘Goal Setting’ than ‘Resilience’ – However, may I point out that ‘Goal Setting’ often arises from a deep acceptance of where one stands in life , in a certain domain and what new points or places does one aim to go to.
As a conclusion, I invite you to a space where you can be resilient,
- To overcome grief of a loss
- To overcome habits that have immense control
- To overcome abuse and harassment inflicted in an unequal and discriminatory manner
- To overcome self inflicted pain arising from lack of choice