Resilience During Difficult Times

As this year is starting to wind-down, I am painfully aware of the exhaustion, disappointment, fear, grief, sadness, and anxiety the community and world are feeling.

As a mom, a helper, and a human, I continually search for ways to help myself so that I can be there for others.

I do the meditating and the exercising and the (trying) to eat healthy and the breathing and the list goes on.

These coping strategies help, but on these things alone, the gas eventually runs out and the engine sputters.

They can take the edge of the moment, but sometimes they fall short of touching the depth of what we’ve all experienced the past few years, and continue to experience.

I’ve been doing some exploration to see why those coping skills are missing the mark for us and asking, what exists at that edge between coping skills running out and the freefall?

At that edge is resilience.

Resilience is what we are made of when our tank is on E.

Resilience develops throughout the course of our lives as a complicated interplay of nature and nurture.

It can also be cultivated and grown through the courageous act of showing up and answering the call to be fully present for each moment of our life.

The ultimate coping skill for us all is really learning to just be there with what’s happening, with our bodies firmly planted in the moment, without creating a narrative about it.

Instead of making up stories about what’s happening or trying to create a future that we don’t know yet, we can take inventory of this exact moment with questions like:

What’s happening in this VERY moment? What things are actually okay right now? What do I see, taste, smell, hear, feel?

When we want to pace and ruminate and Google and catastrophize – instead, we make a cup of tea and pay attention to the temperature of the water on our tongue.

Instead, we ask for a hug, bury our face in a familiar shoulder and feel our heart rate go down.

Instead, we stop ourselves in our hurry to the coffee pot in the morning, just long enough to glance out the window to catch a surprisingly pink winter sunrise.

Instead, we remind ourselves that we don’t know about tomorrow, but we do know about today, this moment. (We’ll deal with tomorrow, tomorrow).

Because that’s all there is right now (and always).

Resilience can be grown, and is a renewable resource.

It will ebb and flow for us all in different seasons.

The greatest gift we can give one another in this season, and moving forward, is borrowed strength.

When others around us our suffering, we can’t pretend to know, but we can allow the strength of our presence to be borrowed by someone else who needs it.

Through a kind word, through offering to take something off of their plate, and sitting with them without jumping in to fix or solve too quickly as they move through their own hard emotions.

And on those days where our own fire might go out, we can count on someone else to lend us a match.

We can work on skills to help take the edge off of the hard things in the world right now.

But we might have to dig deeper than that, and that’s where resilience comes in.

In this digging and excavation, we can discover the indestructible power of being present; being here now; and facing the realities of our lives with acceptance, openness, willingness, and hope.

And when we’re on E, we rely on one another.

As the year winds down, let’s ditch the resolutions and instead make this the year of giving and receiving help from one another without reservation.

May this new year, 2022, ring in with gentleness and grace.