About resilience.

noun: resiliency; plural noun: resiliencies

  1. 1.the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness
  2. 2.the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity.

Similar: flexibility pliability suppleness plasticity elasticity springiness durability ability to last strength sturdiness toughness strength of character hardiness adaptability buoyancy ability to bounce back bouncebackability

My therapist, flooded with self-deprecating comments from myself to me, used to often tell me that among all the qualities that I owned and never saw clearly resilience was the main one. I hang onto her words and I kept repeating myself that this magic and mysterious trait would keep me going.

Throughout this pandemic tsunami, I started understanding that actually most of us are, indeed, resilient. There are many of us, though, who can’t see it quite clearly just yet. But I also think that resilience is as important as baking powder 🙂 nowadays. It could prove to be our main “weapon”.

Being Facebook the nosy app that we all both hate and love, it showed me an Ad for an event hosted by The School of Life Amsterdam called Uncovering our Resilience and featuring the beautiful soul that is Elizabeth Gilbert. It was online, of course, and the fee was really affordable, so win-win situation, I bought the ticket.

And it was pure awesomeness, the 1 hour and a half flew quicker than our summer travel plans 🙂 and I had to quietly thank Facebook algorithm for messing with my head in the right way. Even the waiting music was so nice, she answered some of our questions, the vibe was cozy and there were so many attendees from all over the world, which was so very cool.

Elizabeth started with a story from her life as a journalist and I am so sorry that I did not write it down, because I unfortunately forgot the name of the main character of that story and all the details (Sorry!). It was about a young man who had all the right boxes checked, his future planned and shinny, but sadly he was involved in a car accident, resulting in severe trauma. He did not give up and after some years was a renowned Iron man competitor, proving that almost everything is possible.

Nevertheless, he was again involved in a tragic accident while competing, resulting in him not being able to walk ever again. This time around he gave up the idea of competing again, because he understood: that road was closed for him. He hit rock bottom in many ways until he figured out that life had to be lived on life’s terms. The idea is, basically, that there are times to overcome and times to surrender.

The idea of dancing with life and simply stop arguing with the reality touched me. Elizabeth beautifully explained that we should avoid running from experiences that have the potential to transform us.

She also told us about a really difficult time in her life when she was feeling like it was raining hammers. It impressed me that her prayer then was for God to make it worse, because she wanted to live the experience and just see what it was like on the other side. Now, the world does what the world does and we humans can bare very little reality. I fully agree!

Elizabeth sees this time as an invitation to be humble. Seeing what it is like to be alone with yourself is, maybe, the most uncomfortable sensation we can experience now. In this merciless culture of always searching for more in every field, what is bold now is to build a new life of compassion towards one self. We should dance with life now, not fight it.

I also liked her point about talking with our wisdom 🙂 Simply asking ourselves, what can our wisdom tell us about a certain situation. Once our wisdom gets a main part, the fear might quiet a little.

Creativity is getting such an upbeat now, even more than before, because it means that there is more space for curiosity than for fear, she says.

I resonated quite a lot with the mention of people talking either like they’re afraid for you and few others like they have faith in your capacity. So you need to have faith in yourself and constantly marvel at what life throws at you. For instance, this is interesting! This situation, as tragic as it might be, is interesting and can show us so much about ourselves, our fears, our emotions and our resilience.

We have not lost our faith that tomorrow will be the same and predictable. That is definitely interesting! Hard is where change comes, right? This is a fertile ground for creativity.

A quote (again, not sure who is the author) which plays piano with my mind: “If destiny did what we predicted, it wouldn’t have the reputation that it has.”

She also said that the best students were given the toughest tasks and that we should not miss our school! 🙂

I don’t believe in coaching in any situation, nor in the pressure of positive thinking at any cost. I think her talk applies to a certain category of people, who can afford now to go that deep into their souls. In the end, there is no pressure to do all this the “right” way. But it can prove useful to get some inspiration along the way.

We have frequently heard these couple of weeks that we were at war. I feel that is accurate, this is a war, albeit with other type of guns. Elizabeth challenged my concept stating that for her, this is not a war. Now, when healthcare workers, supermarket workers, drivers, teachers, everybody basically gets to have an active role in “fighting” this and making a difference, is, in her opinion, not a time of war, because we are not enemies, but everybody is fighting to help each other. I still think that is a bit of a romantic view, but it is one worth exploring.

In the end, you must be wondering why I featured this article with that beautiful dog. First, it is a beautiful dog who highly resembles one of my already dead beautiful dogs. Second, following the indications Elizabeth provided in her talk 🙂 I want you to take a look at that beautiful dog, imagine you found him/her abandoned on the street, after pouring rain, shaking, hungry, sad. What would you do for the poor beautiful dog?

You would not tell him, oh, you are so ugly, please be more beautiful, thinner, or gain some weight already, don´t eat so much, oh, you are eating too much, right?

You would not tell him: “You should have really tried harder!”

You would not keep him awake at night to think about what happened to him.

Right? You would speak gently to him, provide a cozy place to sleep, feed him good food and simply love him. Well, this is how we should treat ourselves, now and forever. Could we do that?

P.s. The School of Life Amsterdam has another interesting event this week – This too shall pass, featuring Julia Samuel, a psychotherapist specialized in bereavement and grief, do check it out! I have already registered, so I´ll try to sum-up her wisdom here, but it is not the same, of course.

Featured photo: Unsplash

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