“The easy days ahead of you will be easy. It is the hard days – the times that challenge you to your very core – that determine who you are.”  Sheryl Sandberg

All of us have suffered. Pain, sometimes resulting in trauma of some sort, has and always will be a part of our lives. We have failed. We have been ill. Within our close circle of friends and family we bore their hurt and anguish as well.

Life is regularly interrupted by emotional if not physical ups and downs – sometimes both at the same time. We question; why me, why me again, why now, why like this and when will it end? During this disturbance and sorrow we seek comfort. Comfort can take many forms through both healthy and unhealthy choices … physical and non-physical remedies. We also us seek out other people with whom to share our sorrow or alternatively seek the nonjudgmental, pure love and affection of a cherished pet.

These upsets, setbacks or just feeling out of sorts is a commonplace circumstance that befalls us every now and then even sometimes without any explanation or apparent causal effect. I have read recently that this phenomenon can be best described as being out of alignment. The natural or safe state of our emotional equilibrium can be jolted out of place – leaving us with a sense of searching, questioning, and fidgeting towards righting our position.

On Being, a broadly listen-to podcast by Krista Tippett recently aired a discussion with Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook fame and Adam Grant – a renowned multidimensional author. Adam, a friend to Sheryl and her late husband David, together wrote a book after her husband’s very sudden and untimely death titled Option B. I admit I have not read this yet but I plan to. However, this beautifully woven and stirring podcast on Resilience – is a lesson for all of us. Personally, it struck a resounding cord, and took me back in time as I reflected on aspects of my own ups and downs and up journey we call life.

Shit happens to all of us. And when that happens, we wipe it off, clean up and move forward again. What other choice do we have? But, we do have a choice in how or even if we pick ourselves up off the ground. We too often become absorbed in those “whys” noted above. We succumb to self-pity, leading to self-doubt and perhaps even a fatalistic view of our future.

Sandberg said that when bad things happen, one should seek to find the balance between no control and no order and the emotion one feels … and learn to accept this lack of control when bad things or hardship occurs.

Perhaps like you are doing now, I became motionless upon hearing those profound and deeply meaningful words uttered by Sheryl.

What did that symbolize in my life? “No control and no order” and “to accept the lack of control …”. Each one of us will have a unique interpretation of what this means only if we first make an attempt to decipher its adaptability into our own lives.

You see, whatever is going through your mind at this moment is proof that choice is an option even during the most difficult times of your life. Autopilot is only operational while cruising at 35,000 feet, but is not turned on when landing a plane. Autopilot is also not an optimal state during personal adversity and challenge – whatever form that may take.

This is the time to ask ourselves questions, for example, “what can I do now?” Not the reactive and reflex leaning “why” but the proactive, action orientated “what”.

But what prevents us from acting, doing and thinking differently from how we are accustomed is conditioning. Only as one arrives at the conclusion that the old ways are no longer serving us well can walls be torn down and in their place bridges constructed towards a new, fresh and liberating methodology. It is this psychocultural rigidity that inhibits our growth as truly evolved human beings. Not an easy lesson …

To put it another way, Adam Grant wrote,

“Too often, we get stuck in defending our old views instead of being open to exploring new ones.”

I believe that an emotionally healthier resilience for all life’s challenges that awaits us depends upon us moving closer to that which we are all capable of – exercising the choice that we have in most facets of life.


6 thoughts on “Resilience

  1. Stuart,
    You articulate the key to resilience beautifully!
    Crisis teams, physicians, military have figured this out for emergency management to focus on the task – WIN – What’s Important Now. It can be applied similarly to personal crisis or tragedy, or even minor upsets. Rather than ask “Why” and get stuck in a non-productive emotional rut, ask “What can I do now to work through this.” On reflecting afterwards, one’s success, even if partial, gives strength, and resilience is fostered for the next time. It really does work.

    • Thank you Nadine;
      The work you do benefits so many – your skill, energy and love is what is needed most.

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