Stability and Sea Change
So much about resilience is the nimble dance between being stable – secure, grounded, resourced – and flexible – able to shift, pivot, change our minds, change course.
As we see in my 84 year-old friend Bev, sharing a lifelong love of literature with her long-time book club, 5 going-strong seniors now meeting monthly outdoors in a park, safely distancing by everyone sitting at her own picnic table six feet apart.
As we see in my friend Mark preparing to teach his high school biology class, including lab work, online this fall. Students will grow their own radishes from seed and share their successes via Zoom meetings.
As we see in a 40 year-old organization like Sounds True, committing to a two year anti-racism training in diversity, inclusivity, equity to challenge structures and patters unconsciously set in place long ago.
How can we become more agile ourselves as the ground continues to shift beneath our feet?
All three examples above, the personal, the institutional, the systemic, are anchored in:
Love of Learning
Yes, in all three examples above, the love of learning was already there. Bev and books, Mark and his commitment to igniting his students’ love of learning, Sounds True, whose motto for quite some time has been “waking up the world.”
Learning requires openness, curiosity, willingness to explore, willingness to grow. And when that love of learning can be applied to disappointments, setbacks, problems, frustrations, we shift into the resilience mindset that uses difficulties and even disasters as opportunities to grow. [See Free Guided Practice: How You Respond to the Issue…Is the Issue for specific instructions on cultivating a growth mindset.]
Not always easy, I admit.
There’s a trajectory of perceiving something has changed, resisting (even rejecting) the change; doubting the need or the value of changing, listening to other people considering the change, considering the change yourself, exploring the possibilities of change, (often retreating and then beginning again), allowing the possibility, experimenting with the possibility; experiencing the possibility (with still the option of retreating again if overwhelmed), provisionally tolerating the change, getting accustomed to the change; accepting the change (even if still reluctant), settling into the change more willingly, one day fully embracing the change – Wow! Why did I ever do it any differently?
[See What Makes Some People More Resilient than Others – Resilience for the Long Haul for specific suggestions on embracing change and the science behind them.]
Committing to Connection
Because everything is easier in connection, including changing habits, preferences, perspectives. As I teach rather endlessly, we regulate our sense of safety-danger through the social engagement system of our nervous system, and when we stay connected with safe others, the hormones released antidote all the stress hormones and create a sense of safety in the brain that primes the neuroplasticity of the brain for learning and growth.
[See Compassionate Connection and Radical Change for a beautiful example of this.]
The changes we are being asked to cope with these days keep changing themselves every day. Safe to go here, not safe to go there. It’s hard to keep our footing when the ground beneath our feet keeps changing. Practice little and often to get the benefit of the large practices recommended above, small experiences repeated many times, and re-stabilize moment by moment as you change with the changing times.