Shit Happens. Shift Happens, Too – Resilience in the Face of Disruption
In coping with the swiftness of the changes sweeping through and disrupting our lives, often our livelihoods right now, I’m diving a little deeper into how to cope, because truly for many folks the disappointments and difficulties are beginning to tip into potential disaster.
I’m returning to the 5 C’s of Coping (now 6) that I offered in Bouncing Back, which did win the Books for a Better Life award at the time; the truths and the tools are still very relevant now.
Many tools for recovering the baseline calm of our nervous system are now archived on my website, as in Radically Shifting from Anxiety to Strength and Calm and Keep Calm and Carry On. What’s most important is to calm down from too much revving up of the nervous system – anxiety, fear, panic and to re-engage with the world if we have shut down – gone into denial, passivity, depression. We do have a natural baseline range of resilience that we want to respond to any stress or sense of threat from, and the wisdom of our body – breath, touch, movement – can help us get there, immediately and enduringly.
Waking up to “we’re all in this together” allows us to feel our own personal sorrows and struggles while caring for the sorrows and struggles of others – without getting overwhelmed and lapsing into despair. Recognizing our common humanity in our common predicament helps us feel more supported and less alone.
Here’s an interview with Chris Germer and an exercise to use the power of self-compassion to recover quickly from a shame/fear/anger attack, always useful: The Yin-Yang of Mindful Self-Compassion
Mindful awareness of what’s happening and our reactions to what’s happening can be our salvation in times of all the pieces of the puzzle being suddenly tossed up in the air.
Here’s an interview with Ron Frederick and an exercise that teaches you how to pay attention to your emotions as they are happening: Emotional Mindfulness Strengthens Resilience
It is in the shelter of each other that the people live.
– Irish proverb
People are refuges in times of hardship; we find calm and strength in others that helps us re-find our own. People are also resources for the new strategies as well as the practical and logistical tools that will help us get through our days.
Here’s an interview with Michelle Gale and an exercise in Holding the Messes of Life with Ease and Balance that shows you how to find both refuge and resource in connection with others.
So much of recovering our resilience when disaster strikes is learning that we can. Remembering moments of previous competence helps us be more confident now. Even if we don’t know what to do (yet) we will figure it out. That’s strengthening the resilience mindset as well as strengthening our tools of resilience. Ironically, even though the elderly among us are at the most risk in the coronavirus pandemic, people with life experience of having coped with illness or war or recession or a natural disaster before have a head start in knowing they have survived before and can figure out how to survive again.
Here’s an excellent interview with Elisha Goldstein on Resilience Is a Verb that includes a very effective exercise in changing how you talk with yourself to deepen your trust in your competence.
My friend and poet extraordinaire Doug von Koss sent me an email shortly after we all went into shelter-in-place:
Good morning change. What do you have for me today? Whatever it is, I can handle it.
It takes courage to face so much new, so much unknown. Here’s an exercise in Practice Making Choices – Do One Scary Thing a Day with some of the science behind why that’s a good thing to do.
May these tools help you find your way to the shifts that are required now to navigate the new rhythms and terrain of your life.