Tragedy: the common unifying force of life, no matter your genetics, your circumstances, your behavior, your health. As you season the likelihood of experiencing tragedy increases. A tragedy can be a death, diagnosis of serious illness, break up, job loss, legal difficulties, downsizing, loss of a contract, loss of key staff, loss, loss, loss.
Family and friends often text me, May the force be with you, when I’m in the midst of a personal tragedy. What is this force? How does a person, a family, an organization, or community survive a loss, a tragedy and regain best health? Resiliency. According to SAMHSA resilience is the ability to:
- Bounce back
- Take on difficult challenges and still find meaning in life
- Respond positively to difficult situations
- Rise above adversity
- Cope when things look bleak
- Tap into hope
- Transform unfavorable situations into wisdom, insight, and compassion
The American Psychological Association reports the following attributes regarding resilience:
- The capacity to make and carry out realistic plans
- Communication and problem-solving skills
- A positive or optimistic view of life
- Confidence in personal strengths and abilities
- The capacity to manage strong feelings, emotions, and impulses
I add my superpower as an attribute: accepting what is.
Can resilience be learned? How can we increase the resilience capacity for ourselves, our families, our organizations, and our communities? What tools can help increase our resilience capacity?
This post above was one of my first in August 2012 (lightly edited). It still works.
Since then I’ve realized that someone with resilience has spiritual strength. I actually first learned this from my Opa (grandfather), Henri van Leeuwen, who survived the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp during the Holocaust. He told me that his strong spiritual core made the horror survivable. Finding others with the same was key to maintaining that core. Having someone in our circle who has quiet resilience helps those around us face tragedy. Some people are born with a strong spiritual core. Others not. My Opa said it came to him at Bergen-Belsen. So it can be learned or found with guidance and example. Resilience is a muscle like patience. It needs exercise and often a coach. May the force…
Photo by Diana Beidler Simonton
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