Resilience has become something of a buzz word in recent years. The more uncertain the world becomes, the more valuable an asset resilience appears to be. We want to have resilience for ourselves so we can handle the daily ups and downs of life and we desperately want it for our children, knowing that life will inevitably present some tough challenges.
If you google the word resilience you will find countless references to ‘building resilience’. One particular article told me ‘it takes time, effort and practice to build resilience’. This may be reassuring for some but for me, advice like this would leave me feeling insecure and uncomfortable.
I certainly don’t have a resilience practice built into my life and nor do those I love and care for. Where’s our resilience going to be when we need it? If I’m struggling, does that mean I’m lacking in some way? Maybe I have a resilience deficit, maybe it’s my personality or my DNA – what’s wrong with me???
But what if there’s a radically different way to understand resilience? What if there is no such thing as a resilience deficit? What if resilience is not conditional on the events and circumstances of life? What if it can be covered up but never lost, damaged or stolen? What if you are already profoundly resilient, whether you know it or not? What if your ability to access your innate resilience is dependent on whether or not you know it’s there in the first place?
Until recently, I would have dismissed this as pie in the sky but after a year of researching this theory and trying it out in my own life, this is how I now see it as a deep truth.
Our wellbeing, by which I mean all those qualities we need to handle life – confidence, love, security, gratitude, kindness, peace of mind and resilience – are built into our system and everyone has them in equal measure. It often doesn’t feel this way – our wellbeing gets covered up – particularly when we believe that it is conditional or attached to things outside of us. But that doesn’t mean it’s not there.
Whilst I am fortunate enough not to have to put this to the test in a major life or death situation, I have come up against some situations where things have not worked out as planned. Whilst my mind has told me I can’t handle it, a deeper part of me knows on a profound level that I have all I need inside of me to handle whatever life throws at me. We all do. This knowledge is deeply comforting and grounding. And as far as I can tell, in today’s world, it’s the most important message we can give to our children.
Henrietta Nelson is a coach with Careering into Motherhood and also facilitates iheart wellbeing and resilience programmes for children aged 9 to 18.
July 23, 2022