Key Point: Resilience is a mindset and a learned skill. I was riding my road bike on a beautiful day overlooking vineyards, and a stunning lake in Canada’s spectacular Okanagan Valley. It was a perfect vacation day. As I was cruising down a steep hill, I felt a bug hit my bike helmet. Moments later, I felt movement inside my helmet and in my hair. “Geez,” I thought… “What if that bug was a bee or wasp and it got inside my helmet?” Yup… Wasp. Before I could safely pull over, stop and frantically get my helmet off… Bingo – A big wasp sting on the top of my forehead. Ouch! If you have ever been wasp stung or bitten, you will agree that it hurts like heck. But with my motto of “suck it up,” I decided to ignore the throbbing pain and ride on. Being a little distracted by the wasp sting, I took a swig from my water bottle and didn’t properly put in back in my bottle holder. A mile/kilometer or so later, it falls out and I accidentally ride over it , sending the bottle lid down a fairly steep ditch. Hey… I paid $10 dollars for that Eco-friendly water bottle and wanted to find the lid. So rubbing my forehead and cursing under my breath, I stumbled around in my spandex and bike shoes until I found it. What a string of crappy luck. I seriously thought about quitting the ride. But I began to challenge myself on resilience, “Come on Lorne… This is a little molehill of a challenge… You want to quit just because you get a wasp sting and your water bottle was run over?” So I jumped on my bike, and an hour later, as I was finishing up my route, the wasp sting was now a subdued ache, Eco water bottle secure in my holder, and all was better with the world.
Later that night, I sat on our porch on a delicious summer evening and watched a full moon torch the lake surface… It was so beautiful. Interesting day… A wasp sting to the head concluded with one of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen. In some way it seemed like a minor metaphor for life and the challenges we face. When we have the practice of resilience, we normally come out the other side to experience life’s better moments.
The above set of minor bumpy events made me wonder how people learn to deal with the REAL difficult events that challenge and change their lives. The death of a loved one, loss of a job, serious illness, terrorist attacks and other traumatic events: These are all examples of life experiences that really test resilience. Many people react to such circumstances with a flood of strong emotions and a sense of uncertainty. Yet, research notes that people generally adapt reasonably well over time to life-changing situations and stressful conditions. Resilience is a mindset and learned process. It is an ongoing progression that requires time and effort and engages people in taking a number of steps. According to the American Psychological Association brochure on this topic, the following reinforces our capacity for resilience:
Character Moves: (A paradox in each move).
- Let yourself experience strong emotions related to the challenge, AND also realize when you may need to avoid experiencing them at times in order to continue functioning.
- Step forward and take action to meet the demands of daily living, AND also step back to rest and reenergize yourself.
- Spend time with loved ones to gain support and encouragement, AND also nurture yourself.
- Rely on others, AND also rely on yourself.
This brochure is more comprehensive. Resilience capability leads us through that “wasp sting” and most often, some time later, the full moon does come out with a burst of beauty. Our capacity, mindset and learned ability to be resilient allows us to get there and appreciate it. Quitting (other than to reenergize) will end the ride but do little to contribute to the journey.
Resilience in The Triangle,