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The Resilience Myth

Thank goodness they’re resilient…good thing you’re resilient…they definitely proved they’re tough….

As a society we’re hearing this more and more, and no wonder, we wake; turn to our devices, phones and news outlets only to hear about another gun fired, community ravaged by violence, natural disaster or verbal assault. With all this trauma, conflict and hardship we’ve socialized ourselves to the belief that resilience is how we get through; resilience is toughness, our armour, our barricade. It makes those of us observing the great upheaval being experienced by humanity feel better to think in this way. Our toughness will get us through.

The truth is resilience isn’t toughness, we shouldn’t make people heroes for enduring unspeakable hardship and suffering. Interpreting resilience this way can desensitize us to what is pressing down on people. Dismissing what used to be jarring to us to the point of complacency, shrugging good thing they’re tough is a convenient way to disassociate.

Resilience in our spirit and psyche is best expressed through the ability to bend or flow easily with the circumstances around us, bending us without breaking us. The ability to bend and not break can look like toughness but it actually about going with the flow of change, moving with the conditions that surround us with a level of detachment that protects us from trauma. It is the ultimate act of self compassion and empathy that can unify us.

You learn how to bend when you detach from what you think should be, roll with what is, and have faith in what will be. It comes from living with open hearted love, grace, empathy and compassion for yourself and for others, it becomes a fuel for how you move through life. It becomes the antidote for the struggle and strife we’re exposed to, we still engage, we still react, we care, likely even more than before, and we understand that through awareness, connection and caring about what’s impacting others, we can find collective action, healing and often reconnect with ourselves.

There is an inevitability to being moved by the events of life, the big and the small ones, the ones we create and the ones that seemingly just come at us. How we interpret and react to them is actually what we can control, we can bend or we can break, we can be rolled over or as Nelson Mandela famously said we can win or we can learn.

Choosing to learn and bend is the gift of life’s challenges, it is the gift of resilience. It’s not learning to be tough, it’s learning to flow, to be gentle, to learn, it’s our path to thriving.

And we can not thrive alone, we need to support each other, love each other, to truly engage with each other in good times and especially in the worst of times.

We like to wear independence as a badge of honour beside the toughness badge, but like it’s partner, it’s absurd to convince ourselves we can get through this life without pulling each other up and through.

We’re here to learn, to lean in, to try, to connect, to bend and to grow. The one absolute truth I know is that we are here to love, to express love to give and receive love, to be love.

If we live with love, or even better as love, perhaps we wouldn’t hit the breaking point or have to learn how to bend at all. It’s the human condition that continues to shake us and yes break us, ironically designed by us so of course; can be shifted in our favour by us. As it is with everything, yet again, it’s all up to us.

Peggy Taillon Founder and President HERA Mission @heramission 613-769-5499

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