Reprinted from my column in 110 Magazine
“Fall seven times, stand up eight.”
This proverb has always resonated with me. My guess is that it may also resonate for you as well. As part of our human experience, we face adversity and the “secret sauce” of this metaphor, this part about standing up after every fall is what I would refer to as resilience. The human spirit is resilient. Notice the stories of the hero’s journey that we love so much and how we rejoice when someone overcomes adversity. There are many famous heroes we are familiar with, and the truth is, each person has their own individual heroic story of resilience. When we catch that You Tube clip of the man wrongly imprisoned for 25 years and watch him collapsing in relief as his sentence is exonerated, we celebrate the resilience it took for him to get to that moment. These types of stories remind us of what lives within our own hearts.
When we begin to perceive “setbacks” as setups, and know that our breakdown will lead to our breakthrough, then transforming chaos into clarity is possible. This is the resilience I’m talking about. Webster defines resilience as the ability to recover quickly from illness, change or misfortune; the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness; the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity.
Imagine the palm tree bending in the storm rather than breaking or a rubber band being stretched to its limit and returning to its original form. When faced with trials, tears and pain, how does an individual get back to their original form, back to center?
Some folks have had a rough start in life and must first heal and learn techniques, while others have had instruction early on about how to calm the mind during troubled times. Look at this center you create as a bank account. Every time you do inner work, be it meditation, prayer, journaling, experiencing nature, breath work, etc. you make a bank deposit that will be available to withdraw when “shift” hits the fan. Without prior deposits at the Bank of Peace, you can expect to be overdrawn and depleted in handling the current challenge at hand.
Falling (problem) and getting back up (solution) as in the proverb resonates with us because we all know that the storms come our way in life. We have all known some form of trial or tribulation and understand what it takes to stand up when we have felt knocked down.
Cultivating a belief in our ability to stand up, along with a process that works for us after we fall allows us to bend instead of break. When we step into our true essence to be and do the best we are able, we can step into accepting that “shift happens” and we move through our challenge while reminding ourselves that life is for me, never against me, and that all circumstances, situations and people show up for my good. These little reminders, coupled with our acceptance, bring our minds back into alignment with the highest versions of ourselves.
Research shows our brains are hardwired to focus on stress and the negative. This is our built-in biology keeping us safe from threats. Our minds however make up the meaning for a given event. We often add a negative narrative before, during and afterward that prevents our return to peace. Being aware of this we are able to remain mindful and tune into the good, focusing on gratitude and what to be grateful for. I once heard a woman speak about the death of her daughter and when she’d notice herself focusing on her pain and the terrible car accident her daughter had been in, she would begin to move into what is referred in psychology to as “benefit finding.” She’d remind herself that her daughter didn’t feel any pain, as her passing was sudden and immediate. She would focus on the loving support system of friends and family and her two sons who still needed her.
A study was conducted in 2005 wherein researchers had people think of three good things that had happened to them each day and after six months the results showed they had higher levels of gratitude, greater happiness and less depression. Making an intentional effort to pay attention to and find the good in our lives is a way to return to our center.
I’ve always believed that our process and pain prepare the way for us to realize our purpose. Our struggles do not define us, but rather shape us into the highest and best version of ourselves. Remembering this, while understanding that what is going on is larger than what we can always see. When we recognize that life is always rooting for us and that we are the conduit for the highest expression of love humanly possible, this is at the heart of resilience.
Much Love, Amy xo