A few weeks ago I became really excited about the implications of recent neuroscience research on resilience. I resolved to share my enthusiasm about the updated but simple definition and effective tools to become more resilient (without gritting your teeth or exhausting willpower). Before I could transmit the email Life gave me several opportunities to test my resiliency. Full disclosure, the challenges are pedestrian compared to the tragedies in the lives of personal friends or the front page of the New York Times. Conclusion: I did not score as highly on the resiliency scale as my Ego would expect.
First let me tell you an easily remembered definition based on what I have recently learned. For years I had thought of resiliency as the ability to bounce back from adversity. According to neuroscience research the definition of resiliency is more expansive, it is the ability to respond to Now (or Current Reality) with commitment. That requires one to:
- Acknowledge the truth of what is happening right now, regardless of how unpleasant;
- Identify the Right Action; and
- Become fully committed to the action.
Resilience requires one to negotiate uncertainty and to find purpose and meaning in the Now. Recently, it has been a challenge to accept my current reality: sequential business setbacks and the upheaval of putting my home on the market. Preparing the house for sale raises all sorts of unpleasant emotions that continue to swirl through my body: sadness, apprehension, tiredness, nostalgia, regrets, etc. I know the decision to sell the house is the right action but it still feels awful as I am still attached to the house (not Zen-like thinking).
It is not a picnic for me to negotiate all this uncertainty and to create a new narrative of meaning and purpose. Yes, this is a case of physician heal thyself. Although my professional work is to guide clients and give them tools to become more resilient it is still icky to do it myself. It takes effort and support from friends to refrain from indulging in repetitive thoughts, emotions, and stories and instead to remain focused and committed to the course I have chosen.
I’d love to hear and learn from your stories about your trials and tribulations, and your resiliency. Next time I shall share the tools arising out of neuroscience research.
Thanks and regards,