“How can I be resilient when I feel so…Scared/Anxious/Sad/Angry…?”
This is what I’m hearing from my healthcare colleagues on the front lines.
Most dictionary definitions of resilience note the ability for “elasticity” and “flexibility” during a crisis so we can come back to “normal”
I would challenge that the goal would instead be to come back to a “new normal.” We want to grow into a new self through a crisis so our heart and mind are now grown into something even better and stronger.
Resilience is NOT…Something we HAVE…It is SOMETHING WE GROW
Resilience is NOT…Something we FORCE…It is SOMETHING WE ALLOW
So we need to think of tending to our INNER environment, the landscape of our heart and mind, far more than we are paying attention to the outer landscape.
No, that doesn’t mean you don’t stay informed during this pandemic. But it does mean you cannot expect to get through this and find resilience if you give the external world more power than you’re giving yourself.
So, let’s talk about three practical steps:
GIVE YOURSELF GRACE
You get to feel everything. Fear, anxiety, anger, joy, guilt, all of it. Feeling challenging emotions does NOT mean you aren’t resilient, it means YOU ARE FINDING RESILIENCE by allowing and accepting what comes up every day. You are human, accept that you will have challenging emotions. As you feel them, stop take a breath, put your hand on your heart and send yourself love for this moment of suffering. It’s human, it’s universal. If we are rigid with ourselves, we cannot expect to be flexible and resilient through this crisis.
FIND GRATITUDE EVERY DAY
Rewire your brain and tend to your heart. When we look for gratitude every day, we create space for images of good next to the challenging. Your nervous system needs a balance of images to hold because it will ALWAYS default to the dangerous and fearful ones. That’s our evolutionary mode. That’s how we survived to this day. But that’s not how we will thrive to the next. Do your stress hormones and immune system a favor and spend some time focusing on the good. I know it can feel difficult at times to find gratitude. But it’s out there. It’s the shelter you’re staying in, it’s the food you’re eating, it’s a walk with no destination in the neighborhood, it’s the fact you’re able to even walk if you’re privileged to do so. There will be a great deal of loss through this so please, balance it with the bounty of what’s around you each and every day. It will make a difference, trust me. (Watch my TEDx talk on the power of gratitude!)
Share your gratefuls at night with your family or through email/video with others. Or write letters of gratitude. Both are ways to shift the lens you are seeing the world through.
FIND MEANING EVERY DAY
To grow resilience, we must tend to our inner landscape and make it LARGER than the crisis that disrupted it. Whether large or small, we must find meaning every day. Can you find the good in humanity right now? Look for the helpers, the individuals and teams working every day to make sure we find a way through this? The healthcare workers, the people stocking your grocery shelves, the custodial staff cleaning the ventilators, the individuals checking on the elderly and most vulnerable…They’re out there and they remind us that humanity is good and we’re all in this together. Maybe you can make a ritual for the beginning or end of your day so that you can mark each day as sacred? Can you start your day with a prayer, an intention or at least 5 minutes (or dare I suggest an hour?) of no screens so that you tend to the inner landscape of your heart and mind before the external world starts to control your day? Can you connect in true presence to someone you love today? What a gift that is. What will be your way to mark this day because each day you are here, getting up and facing this again, you are growing your resilience.
- Getting up every day and doing it all over again
- Finding even one piece of good in the world and yourself every day
- Saying that you can find something larger within
Resilience is making your inner environment even more powerful than this external crisis. The more spacious and aware you are on the inside, the more you will be able to hold on the outside. Remember this and we will all come through this stronger and more connected than ever.
Comment below and share how you are growing your resilience so we can all learn together!