It’s been a month of trying to figure out what shelter in place means, what’s essential and what’s not essential, how to homeschool, and work from home and stay sane. It seems as if we should be settling into a routine, and in some ways, I suspect everyone is. But it’s also been long enough that everyone is starting to feel the emotional strain of being home, decreased incomes, and the great uncertainties about our future.
Resilience is defined as the ability to weather trauma, uncertainty, and suffering. It does not mean we aren’t affected and we don’t suffer. What it means is we adapt, and sometimes grow. We don’t get stuck in the suffering, paralyzed, and lose long term ability to thrive.
If you are paralyzed by what’s happening, reach out for help. Call my office, or your primary care doctor, or your therapist, a clergy person, spiritual guide, or a friend. The truth is, there isn’t a single person right now that doesn’t need a bit more support – don’t wait till you are paralyzed to reach out.
But it’s worth noticing your strength and flexibility. When we become aware that we are managing things adequately, it relieves some of the pressure. So let’s look a little further at resilience, because it’s not really a simple concept. For example, a person can have resilience in their work place but not their personal relationships. A person can be resilient in the face of loss or grief but, when touched but uncertainty or malevolence, lose that capacity. And though resilience is the ability to adapt and grow in the face of adversity, it isn’t only something we recognize after the adversity passes – resilience is a process as well as an outcome. It can wax and wane day to day, it can be grown through behavior modification, meditation, and therapy, and I see it around me everywhere I look.
After a month of trying to juggle homeschooling, working from home or not working, decreased social interactions, increased screen time, terrifying news and reports of horrible suffering, what is resilience supposed to look like?
What it looks like is, you try a new recipe because you don’t have all the ingredients, and the delivery time for groceries is 2 weeks out.
What it looks like is, you brush your teeth later in the day. But you brush your teeth.
What it looks like is, you are so exhausted by mid day that you need a nap. But you get back up and make dinner.
You read the news, and then you clean the bathtub, do a load of laundry, and feed the dog.
You sleep more, but you get out of bed.
You cry sometimes, but you also laugh.
You lose your temper, but you apologize.
You feel fragile, but you keep showing up to your day.
You may not feel happy right now. That’s ok. You may be sad, and scared and angry. That’t appropriate. These feelings are not indicative of a lack of resilience. They mean you are human and you are awake. Take a look at where you are succeeding each day. Reach out for support, because we need each other, but notice that you are still standing strong.