Resilience as Bouncing Back, Bouncing Forward, Patiently Abiding
I recently had the privilege of creating a podcast for Coaches Rising on Patient Abiding: Fostering Individual and Collective Resilience. And in talking again with Joel Monk, with whom I share many mentors and colleagues, I heard myself think out loud that resilience isn’t just bouncing back, as I’ve taught from my book Bouncing Back, or bouncing forward, as my friend Michaela Haas teaches in her book Bouncing Forward: The Art and Science of Cultivating Resilience (originally sub-titled Transforming Breakdowns into Breakthroughs, which I thought much more getting to the grit of resilience).
But after two years of a global pandemic with co-morbid climate catastrophes, the hacking of democracies all over the world, and ongoing racial injustice and social inequity, resilience is sometimes patiently abiding, maintaining hope and faith in the face of not much movement. Abiding when shit is happening, but not much shift is happening.
Here’s the link to the 70-minute podcast.
Here are some of the highlights:
Abiding is more than enduring or tolerating. Abiding is anchoring in the states of kindness, compassion, generosity, gratitude, that fuel our individual and collective resilience by shifting the functioning of the brain out of contraction, negativity, reactivity, hopelessness into more openness, receptivity, optimism. The direct, measurable, cause and effect outcome of a practice in abiding is resilience.
Resilience moves beyond the personal to the collective when we fully rely on and share in our common humanity. It’s hard enough coping all by ourselves with ordinary adversities in ordinary circumstances. Even if we’re not the cause, nor complicit in our complacency, our culture’s hyper-individuality isn’t enough to navigate and resolve the current catastrophes impacting everyone on the planet, impacting the planet itself.
The importance of normalizing all of our strategies for coping as protective, even if sometimes dysfunctional, including our occasional spacing out when overwhelmed. Our strategies are brilliant for helping us survive thus far, and making it possible to learn 20 more tools in the toolbox.
What the conscious, compassionate connection of coaches and therapists provides in helping clients recover their inner secure base of resilience is the felt sense and trust in, “I am loved. I belong. I am worthy.” (Thank you, Spirit Rock teacher Vinny Ferraro for that phrase.) That felt sense of safety and acceptance allows us to keep on keepin’ on.
The importance of managing our own and helping others manage the reactivity of the nervous system so the higher brain can stay online to think through anything. Offering Deb Dana’s acronym SAFE – Stories, Actions, Feelings, Embodied somatic experience. The health or unease of the nervous system underlies and shapes all of our subsequent emotions, behaviors and thoughts, supporting resilience or derailing it.
[Sharing my experience teaching at a conference on domestic violence and sexual abuse in Jerusalem three weeks after terrorist attacks. After a day’s training in self-compassion, one of the clinicians came up to me and said, “All of these practices are useful, but what was truly helpful was that you were calm. Your calm helped us be calm.”]
Yes, adversities are AFGO’s – another frickin’ growth opportunity – if we choose to use them as such. That’s the resilience mindset or the growth mindset, and that mindset moves everything forward, for individuals and for communities.
And the teaching of many practices familiar to readers of these posts, participants in workshops, readers of my books, to cope with the full spectrum of disappointment, difficulty, and even disaster. To cultivate the positive to pull us forward, to use our mindfulness and our compassion to hold anything and everything in abiding, to nurture specifically the parts that are holding us back, that hesitate, that doubt, that refuse to move forward. Practices that change our relationship to our circumstances and our relationship to our self for experiencing those circumstances, even if we can’t change the circumstances themselves.
Hand on the Heart to activate a felt sense of safety and trust and antidote the stress hormone cortisol.
ABC model of aware, attune, allow, accept, be with, be-friend, compassion, care, curiosity to deal with any disruptive emotions or thoughts. Adding D to discern options and E to engage effectively.
Catching glimmers of the positive and taking in the good of them, savoring them for 30 seconds many times a day to build permanent resources of resilience in the mind and heart. (Thank you Rick Hanson)
Creating a coherent narrative to acknowledge any trauma as part of our story but not our whole story. (Thank you Dan Siegel)
Anytime a client learns a new tool or practice, highlighting that “you’re learning, and you’re learning that you can learn.”