Well, that’s the first step towards resilience, in my mind.
When I used to think about “resilience”, I always had a vivid picture of Wonder Woman standing with her hands on her hips and deflecting bullets with her indestructible body.
Understanding what I do now, this was undoubtedly a naïve perspective on this particular mindset.
Resilience is a Mindset
I pondered this too because I always placed it in the emotions box.
But is a mindset that leads to a particular emotion, which leads to feelings and then behaviour and ultimately pushes out results at the end of it all.
It is described, in a nutshell, as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties.
From this we can absolutely agree that the capacity to do something stems from a mindset. And we could also agree too, that a journey through trauma, anxiety or loss for example with a resilient mindset, short-cuts that journey.
WE ARE RESILIENT PEOPLE WHETHER WE KNOW IT, OR NOT.
Lucy Hone said it well, in that “Adversity doesn’t discriminate.”
If you have ever lost someone you loved, experienced infidelity, civil unrest; or you are a woman who has had a miscarriage, an abortion or have had difficulty conceiving a child that you have dreamt of for your whole life; perhaps you have lost a part of your body to disease – a part that determined your gender, or was a part that elicited your most intimate feelings – perhaps you struggle with your mindset?
These are your resilience stories – and while it feels and sounds counter-intuitive, we need to lean into them to boost our confidence and project us forward.
OUR PAIN CAN BE OUR PURPOSE
Watching my dad take his last breath was a life-changing event.
I will remember that moment for the rest of my living days. My sister and I had arranged a home care nurse for him a few months prior, and for the most part, it was to give us peace of mind while we were both at work and looking after our own lives.
It was common ground for us that taking the best care of our parents was our joint responsibility. It was unspoken, but we both knew that is what it was – our responsibility. For my part, it came from the deep love that I have for my folks and the sacrifices that they had made for me. I am sure that my sister would say something quite similar, although she would say it is far more depth and eloquence.
In any event, it was a Sunday, and we were watching some television, both knowing that the moment was about to arrive.
It was the change in his face, the transformation of his breathing, and his changed eating patterns that gave us the heads up that that Sunday was likely going to be the day that he would be called home to his beloved wife, his son and his mom and dad.
So, we waited, watching some arbitrary programme that now, I can’t even remember what it was. We had popped our heads in regularly to check in on him while he slept, and that break in front of the tv was a wonderful respite to preparing me for the upcoming event.
Our caring nurse called us in, and my heart skipped a beat – this was it. I had been preparing for it all week, watching these changes, but it still came as a surprise.
We walked in, and I remember going to this beautiful place in my head when I was processing things. It was as if I was outside of my body, watching what was happening in that room.
Then, once I felt strong enough, I came back to the moment and sat at the foot of his bed – watching without blinking the slowing of his chest – the struggle for air – the gasping – the gasping – the gasping into this peaceful silence.
It was beautiful.
It was beautiful because I believe that at that exact moment, the soul is released, and it goes to this beautiful place, with no cares, no pain, no struggle.
I still felt this immense pain in my chest because it was also that moment that my own identity changed.
I had been there when my brother passed, and I was there too when my grandmom and my mom died. So my dad taking his final breath, for me, was the last of my connection to a life that I had become used to.
This one event was the straw that broke the camels back as it were because it set me off on a journey that I am now looking at the finish line.
It was a journey where I learned so much about myself and all of the emotions that I had pushed way down deep because it wasn’t the right time for me to be feeling them, or I thought that I didn’t have the space to handle them or I just wasn’t prepared to work through them.
This one event, when I look back on it, is my resilience anchor – it’s a stacked anchor that when I illicit, I can short-circuit a journey through the more difficult times.
I can lean into a particular emotion and accept that the bad stuff, because of what life is, is going to happen.
Warning! This doesn’t mean I go off looking for the bad stuff! I accept that when it happens, it’s part of my journey through life.
we are hardwired to notice the bad stuff, but we should focus on hope
In the days when the cavemen roamed the earth, this hardwiring was great for them. It was a safety mechanism and was in place for them to understand when danger was about.
While this mechanism still exists in our brains, our world is vastly different. I am not suggesting that it is a world without danger, but in comparison, we have very little to be concerned about when we leave our homes to do the grocery shopping.
But for us, as a journey through to resilience, we can focus on the hope that everything will be ok.
I always do this – focus on hope – and I am seldom wrong in those instances.
aside from knowing that the bad stuff will happen…
So, aside from knowing this but not intentionally looking for it, what other mindfulness do you need to grow into resilience?
The thing is that there will always be things outside of our control. Knowing this helps to understand where our focus needs to be when we are leaning into the bad stuff. My go-to practice for everything is gratitude.
Being grateful for everything that you have, even during loss, will make the most significant difference in the world. It resets a “lack mindset” into an abundant one, and this simple practice of always counting your blessings is massively impactful.
And then, my go-to question for everything I am doing these days is:
“Is this mood helping you, Robyn?”
If you are honest with yourself, and you can be accountable to yourself, answering this question can change your trajectory in a moment.