“Stress, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.”~ Roger C. Mills, from the book Realizing Mental Health
Let’s talk about the ‘R’ word. Tell me, what springs to mind, when you hear the word ‘resilience’? Does it fill you with a sense of assurance; a certainty that whatever life throws at you, you’ll survive and thrive; or maybe it gets your hackles up as a tool of blame and shame, used against employees, struggling in under-resourced conditions?
I’ve seen all these responses, and more, from different individuals and teams I’ve worked with, which begs the question, how can one simple word provoke such varied response? What does that tell you about how we experience the world?
All words are simply metaphors—human created imagery that points to a deeper truth—so what’s the word ‘resilience’ pointing to? Looking at its origins, it comes from the Latin salire (to jump) and re- (back), so what do we suppose we’re jumping out of, and back into, when we’re feeling resilient?
Here’s where it’s helpful to have spotted that literally all we ever get to experience as human beings is the Now, and it’s only the mind and its obsession with future and past, analysis and judgement; its endless stories of how things should be, that can ever give the impression of us experiencing anything else. When we’re not distracted by that mind chatter we find ourselves fully present to each and every situation we face; re-connected to an intuitive, inner resourcefulness; perfectly equipped to deal with life’s challenges, big and small.
So what if resilience isn’t something that can be diminished, built, or trained, but is simply our unchanging, inbuilt capacity to fall out of our insecure, obstructive thinking and back into the rich resourcefulness of present moment consciousness?
My 8 year old daughter was recently playing with the idea of time travel, noting with dismay that finding herself in the distant past she’d be “gutted that there was no television” … I agreed, but suggested she’d get over that fact pretty quickly. Her innate capacity for resilience means she’d ‘jump back’ from the disappointment – in other words, she’d naturally stop thinking about it after very long, and as a result, her attention would return to the awareness of all life had to offer her, in the here and now.
We all face challenging circumstances—life would be pretty boring if we didn’t—but our capacity for resilience is in no way at risk from any of them. Like a football held underwater, psychological buoyancy is built in, and it’s made visible by letting go.
So next time your head’s full of feeling like you can’t cope, just remember there are no tools, techniques or special arrangements required for you to wake up to the fact (time and time again) that to be human is to be distracted by the mind’s endless, meaningless, self-referential demands.
When you do, you’ll realise you never were separated from wisdom, intuition and the next step towards a solution that’s just right for you.
If you’d like to learn more about our essential resilient nature, a short conversation on the topic, between two doctors, can be found on my YouTube channel at https://gilespcroft.link/resilience.
Dr Giles P Croft gilespcroft.com Healing • Coaching • Speaking