I’ve written about resilience before, but given the changes our world is currently undergoing, the topic is more important than ever.
Why? Because we are all challenged, to our limits and sometimes beyond.
What does this have to do with resilience? In general, resilience is the ability of a system to cope with change. In psychology, it is the psychological resilience to cope with crises and use them as an occasion for personal development. The opposite of resilience is vulnerability.
I always think of succulent plants when I think of resilience… Do you like succulents?
Specifically, I love the Crassulaceae. These succulent, plump plants, like sempervivum, sedum, or many saxifrage varieties, are often habitants of the most inhospitable places on our planet: Stone fields, deserts, ruins, barren rooftops… wherever they settle, they exude vibrancy and lush presence. The sempervivum plants have the aura of round-cheeked moms, welcoming and friendly. And aloe vera, also a succulent, is widely known for its regenerative ability, not only allowing its own leaves to heal even after suffering frost, but also helping other living things heal and stay healthy. For burns and sunburn, the gel made from its fleshy leaves is a valuable first aid.
To me, these frugal plants are the perfect symbol of resilience.
Not only can the aloe transform from an apparently frostbitten plant corpse back into a living plant after a frost, no, apparently it is now pre-building and sprouting even more leaves. Even the simple sempervivum on the balcony, the only plant capable of surviving our poor watering habits, delights me with its fat, plump leaves, which slowly but inexorably grow more. These creatures hoard water for a rainy day, while making their surroundings friendlier and giving hope. And in doing so, they are an inspiration to me:
Like a succulent, I want to store good things for bad times.
In tough times that I must get through because they are part of life, because life is a wave model, I want to rejoice in my memories, in the beauty of the golden days. I can let my gratitude for the good help me get through the bad. And the clear view of what I have experienced so far shall help me recognize the possibilities for development in time. Then I can share this with others, if necessary. Resilient, experienced people are the rocks in the surf for everyone else in hard times, because they radiate confidence and trust. (Here you can learn more about the muscle called courage)
Resilience is learned:
In childhood, many environmental factors determine how resilient the young person develops. This means that it is also possible for an adult to train his or her resilience! Self-esteem and self-efficacy are the most necessary foundations for the attitude, „Whatever life brings me, I’ll get through it!“
Contrary to what you might think, resilient children are not tough and stoic; on the contrary, they are able to talk about their feelings, and are more willing to get help than the less resilient children. They are also less aggressive, more inquisitive, and significantly more cooperative. Taking responsibility strengthens resilience.
Apparently, strong resilience also requires an awareness of one’s own vulnerability.
If we are aware that we need help, and we go and get it, then we are significantly more resilient. Being aware of (and able to sort out) our own feelings is often accompanied by good empathy. As a result, we are more willing to help and show solidarity. Because we are all mortal and vulnerable – together we can get through everything better. And the more aware we are that we are part of a larger context, and that we are also responsible for the nature that surrounds and contains us, the more likely we are to succeed in saving „our“ world.
What we can do today is to strengthen our own resilience – this will ultimately benefit everyone.
How do we do that? By strengthening our self-esteem, taking care of our physical well-being (with tension and relaxation in balanced alternation), assuring ourselves of our self-efficacy*, and staying connected to our pack – be it family or elective affinity. Maintaining the proper balance between self and others may not often be easy, but it is one of the fundamentally important things worth working on. (If it doesn’t work at all take a break from persevering: resilience thrives in the dance between resting and running.) As taking responsability strengthens resilience, you could also adopt a succulent plant…
Whatever you do, do it for yourself – you are WORTH it!
You are a part of this world, and only if you are all right are you strong enough to support other parts of the world. I wish you much strength and serenity in dealing with the world, others, and yourself. Live long and prosper!
Heartfelt, wherever you are,
* Experiencing your self-efficacy is part of what my creative workshops are all about. In several ways Intentional Creativity strengthens resilience, including this one.
P.S.: You can find more about my creative offerings on my English-language website www.johannaringe.com.