Resilience ~ the ability of people or things to recover quickly
Resilience – When a Word Finds You
Do you make New Year resolutions, or lists of goals or aspirations you’d like to achieve over the coming year? This year the word resilience found me, and over the following few paragraphs, I’ll be sharing with you why it’s such an important word.
Several years ago some friends and I talked about finding a word to guide us through the coming months. I don’t recall which of us suggested it, but the idea was to come up with a single word, not a sentence or several. A word that might be more achievable than a list. Since then we’ve begun each year with a new word that appealed to us, and have shared and explained their reasonings. I don’t recall any of my previous words, but this year, 2022, when I was hoofing along the road on an unseasonably warm 1st January to start the #100daysofwalking challenge, a word jumped into my mind so forcefully it was hard to ignore. Resilience. This year my word has found me.
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The American Psychological Association (APA) defines resilience as:
“the process and outcome of successfully adapting to difficult or challenging life experiences, especially through mental, emotional, and behavioral flexibility and adjustment to external and internal demands.” It supports the notion that resilience can be cultivated and practiced with the necessary resources and skills”
Resilience isn’t something we are born with, it’s something we learn to develop and practice and I like the way it can be woven and adapted to our needs. I’ve used the word many times in my work life. It was introduced to me by Cultivate at Cloughjordan Eco Village and as a result I used to think of it in terms of helping to educate people to become more food secure, growing fruit and vegetables, developing communities, readying ourselves for dramatic climate changes that many are already beginning to experience. Nowadays, I’ve realised there’s a lot more to resilience.
So much of the way we live is out of our control. We can stress about that, ultimately making ourselves emotionally or physically unwell, or we can learn to live with it.
I’ve spent recent years in a permanent state of self-induced stress as I’ve juggled with life as a self employed wife and mother, and unfortunately the results are beginning to show themselves. However, during my daily walks at this quiet time of year, I’ve realised that emotional resilience is something tangible I can work on. It’s important not to let this word slide through my fingers as I awaken from my winter slumber.
I can look after, care for and be gentle with myself. I can give myself permission to take the time to do this. I can learn to say no and listen to my inner voice.
I’m grateful that a break over the festive season has given me the time to acknowledge this, and that grateful is a word I was leaning towards at the later end of 2021. Perhaps one word naturally leads to another.
As a parent I distinctly remember the feeling of shock and alarm when an air hostess instructed passengers to put our own masks on first in case of emergency. That simple instruction flew across every maternal instinct as I sat in my airplane seat holding our first born baby in my arms, on his way to meet his extended family for the first time. Yet, it was probably the most sound piece of advice I’ve been given. If we don’t have oxygen, how can we survive to help others? We have to put ourselves first in order to care for others. There should be no shame in it.
UK charity MIND describes developing emotional resilience as:
“Taking steps to look after your wellbeing can help you deal with pressure, and reduce the impact that stress has on your life. This is sometimes called developing emotional resilience.
Resilience is not just your ability to bounce back, but also your capacity to adapt in the face of challenging circumstances, whilst maintaining a stable mental wellbeing. Resilience isn’t a personality trait – it’s something that we can all take steps to achieve.”
The past couple of years have been immensely stressful for many, has anyone been left untouched by this global pandemic? And with a climate crisis bubbling away with increasing pressure, it’s unlikely that life will return to that as we once knew it. Those of us who’ve been involved with the environmental movement, be it for 50 years or 5, are going to feel the strain even more. I believe we’ll hear more voices from people like NASA climate scientist Peter Kalmus, or the scientist in the satirical Netflix film ‘Don’t Look Up’ who shouted at anyone who would listen “We are trying to tell you that the entire planet is about to be destroyed”.
Everyone, I am begging you: Every time you learn of a new climate-related disaster, please recognize that it will get worse, and worse, and worse, every year, without end **UNTIL WE END THE FOSSIL FUEL INDUSTRY**
— Peter Kalmus (@ClimateHuman) December 12, 2021
We are all going to need to develop every ounce of resilience to deal with what’s coming.
The past couple of years have made me realise how much we experience is out of our control. Yet, if we let it, if we listen and trust, find a balance in life and work, allow time for ourselves, share our feelings and stop beating ourselves up for mistakes, we can learn and adjust and adapt. We can build our resilience and as we do so, we can become stronger.
We will be in a better position to face what’s coming, and unlike the comet that’s hurtling towards the planet in Don’t Look Up, we might just be in a position to stop, which is not yet the inevitable.
How is your resilience? Are you up for working on it too?