The Original Map of Resilience

The Original Map of Resilience

Transitioning into retirement means reading many good new books and re-connecting with many good old friends. It also means tackling the de-cluttering postponed for at least five years while I was a bit (gratefully!) over-booked on the circuit and with clients. 

I started with the low-hanging fruit: piles tucked in one place between the couch and the wall, going through out-of-date catalogs for PBS/the Great Courses/Wilderness Travel (great photographs, even when we couldn’t travel).  

And mysteriously tucked in there, I had completely forgotten I had created this, was the hand-written “map” for Book II, mind-mapped a good two years before I actually began writing Resilience: Powerful Practices for Bouncing Back from Disappointment, Difficulty, and Even Disaster. 

Resilience had evolved a different structure by the time I wrote it, but the original trajectory of resilience still has merit. I mapped the losing of resilience first:

Presence (well-being) — Creativity (flow) —Productivity (satisfaction) — Busyness — Pressure (expectations, old tapes) —Stress — (survival responses) — Overwhelm (derailed by confusion). 

Then I mapped the reverse, a map of recovering resilience:

Trauma (overwhelmed, derailed by confusion) — Stress (survival responses, contraction) — Pressure (activates strategies of coping/defense) — Busyness (engaged, skillful managing, navigating) — Productivity (satisfaction), pride/reward) — Creativity (flow) — Presence (well-being).

At the time, the map was useful for tracking my own states of being as the becoming known in the world and teaching more and more was pressuring the ways and means I had become accustomed to before the success of Bouncing Back changed the landscape and pace of my life so much.

Then I had mapped those trajectories of resilience to the power of connections/relationships to recover resilience:

Trauma – when confused, dissociated, lacking self-focus and self-awareness: need to connect with safe persons. When compartmentalized, fragmented: need to re-connect with self

Stress: when acting from lower brain, implicit memory, part of inner child: ask for help, soothing, comfort, compassion. (yes, people can trigger stress and defenses, but they also provide refuge and resource)

Pressure: when slipping into grasping, aversion or shame: adult self, wiser self, compassionate friend can recover inner secure base of resilience

Busyness: inner secure base of self supported and resourced by social connections, safety net of circle of support, recover centeredness, groundedness

Productivity: when work becomes colleaguial and collaborative, social-emotional intelligence of “tribe” supports meaning and purpose

Creativity: when work is flowing, anchored in deep well of acceptance and empathy, resonant moments of meeting

Presence: experience of inter-connected beingness, the sacred, me and you becomes “mwe”

Then I mapped how neuroscience could illuminate and guide this trajectory:

Trauma: tools of working with body memory, factors of post-traumatic growth (acceptance, resourcing with people, resourcing with the positive, finding the lessons, re-writing the narrative)

Stress: tools to work with the revving up and the shutting down of the autonomic nervous system

Pressure: tools to shift from contraction, negativity, reactivity to receptivity, openness

Busyness: using processes of brain change to integrate and strengthen functioning of pre-frontal cortex (CEO of resilience)

Productivity: executive functioning of higher brain for motivation, analysis, discernment, planning, decision making, choices, perseverance

Creativity: using play space of default mode network for intuition and imagination

Presence: brain firing in synchrony with other brains, aware of Awareness

I had mapped this trajectory integrating past-future experiences, integrating tools of mindful self-compassion to recover resilience at any state.  Oh, I had such fun creating this map at the time. I had such fun discovering and recovering it now. 

And it was a profound lesson  that even when things get “lost” they can live on and evolve anyway.

I recovered other things in this one particular pile of de-cluttering. A beautiful card from my friend Marilynne when my brother died. Generous referrals to resources when my friend Rick Hanson learned of my concern about the effects of a slight concussion. The notes from someone else’s presentation at a conference on learning and education that I had taught at years ago: Rainy Brain – Sunny Brain: The Science of Resilience and Optimism.

Lost and found, forgotten and remembered, or somehow integrated into the unfolding of my own thoughts whether I could now remember the source or not.  

Does it makes me more enthused for more de-cluttering? A little. Does it make me grateful for memories of a life richly lived, richly blessed? A lot.