Building Resilience

I started this post several months ago but the roll outs and mandates came along and our focus turned totally to supporting people not only on the physical level of having their jabs, but answering many frantic and panicked emails.

Some people seemed to deal with lockdown and restrictions well, keeping their eye on the prize of a return to freedom. Others have not fared so well and we can often feel the chaos and anxiety that is a nationwide energy at times.

Resilience has certainly been a term and a concept we’ve discussed through these very long and often surreal months. Resilience is now an essential tool for us all to develop because no doubt there are going to be more months of this inconsistency and changeable narrative moving fowards.

Many people are living what they see, what they hear and what they are told.

They are then coming from a place which is “out there”, rather than within. Living someone elses vision, words, mandates, fear, rather than living their own truth.

And living in this “out there” way causes trauma, anxiety, distress on every level of our being.

Resilience can be a learned skill but in my world it is also something that relates to our inheritance, our upbringing and our constitutional health.

What is Resilience?

I find a dictionary definition, regardless of how well it fits our purpose, a useful starting point for a conversation. So here are a few different thoughts:

Resilience:

    1.  the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness;
    2.  the ability to withstand adversity and bounce back from difficult life events;
    3.  the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity.

Some examples of resilience could be things like:

  • Coping well with a trauma or tragedy; events like 9/11 come to mind here, but even something more personal like retrenchment, burglary or a bushfire
  • Processing the loss of a loved one or a divorce and coming out the other end relatively intact mentally and emotionally
  • Recovering well from a surgery or illness
  • Being able to accept criticism as constructive rather than negative
  • Seeing an event as a learning experience rather than becoming a victim
  • Not being so invested in perfection for the sake of perfection
  • Not living in a world full of fear and potential catastrophe

And for children, many of whom these days live with one or both parents who are anxious and fearful, this could be some of the above, as well as for example:

  • Not taking the normal friendship challenges to heart
  • Being able to let go of Mum or Dad
  • Accepting that you can’t always get it right first time
  • Understanding that your tribe might not be here right now, but they are out there somewhere
  • Not living in fear of being kidnapped, burgled, catching “you know what”
  • Being able to accept a B+ instead of an A
  • Understanding that you have to make mistakes to learn how to do something

Being resilient does not mean that people don’t experience stress, emotional upheaval, setbacks and suffering.

And it also doesn’t mean there is no emotional pain or sadness.

The road to resilience is often paved with emotional stress and strain and for many people working out how to be resilient comes after a lifetime of dramas and traumas which have coloured how they react.

Developing Resilience

The good news is resilience can be learned.

It involves developing thoughts, behaviors, and actions that allow us to recover from traumatic or stressful events in life.

Some counsellors are really good at providing strategies for life and I quite often suggest a child or adult finds such a therapist to help them develop these life skills.

It isn’t that they necessarily need the “talking it out” part of the counselling, they just need some guidance on ways to react in certain situations.

For some people it’s as if there is so much going on in their lives and in their heads that they are unable to think clearly as to what is an appropriate way to react, and they can get stuck in their heads or they hesitate in the moment.

“Your sensitivities are not pathology, but path . . . the shakiness, tenderness, grief, rage, melancholy, and not knowing . . . these too are not pathology, but portal and path.” Matt Licata

Butterfly Mind

Butterfly Mind” is often the problem in our world. We all have minds focussed on a million and one things, or maybe only half focussed. Watching the kids, chatting on the phone, seeing our notifications pop up, cooking the dinner, writing the shopping list or thinking about our next assignment ALL AT THE SAME TIME!!!!

A good way to think about this is to consider the difference between a butterfly flitting from plant to plant, fluttering, beautiful, perfect and short lived, and the mighty Oak tree with its roots deeply and firmly in the earth, reaching up to the sky, resilient to the weather and the events of the world.

Whenever I think of Oak trees, the song “Heart of Oak” comes to mind, because even those Oaks which didn’t weather the increasing needs of man, lived on in buildings and ships which have endured for hundreds of years, still sheltering and protecting families in their homes, and people as they traversed the globe.

This is the official march of the British Royal Navy, so it’s essentially a song about fighting for our country, but equally the lyrics are fitting if we consider building resilience, standing firm and overcoming our fears.

Heart of Oak are our ships,
Jolly Tars are our men,
We always are ready: Steady, boys, Steady!
We’ll fight and we’ll conquer again and again.

Sometimes we see one single Oak rather than a forest and that may be a result of man’s greed for its beautiful timber, but that single Oak will stand firm and provide a home and a solace for animals, birds and of course the butterfly!

If we live as the butterfly – and this does seem to be a theme of our world – we will find ourselves blown about by our emotions, tossed about by the winds of change and finding beauty tattered by adverse circumstances. We have no roots, no grounding, no strength and our fragility maintains in a continous state of fear of what may come to hurt us next.

Whereas if we can live in the energy of the Oak (which is incidentally a homeopathic remedy I often give out to help people build courage, strength and resilience if life is a little tough), we can stand tall and firm when everything around us crumbles. Yes our leaves may flutter a little in the breezes of life and some will fall as we struggle to throw off some of the behaviours that don’t serve us, but in the spring of new opportunity we have the chance to make good again.

Create Boundaries

Dean and I have walked the spiritual path for nearly 100 years between us in this lifetime! Both since childhood delving into the mysteries of life and self but we’re still a work in progress …

One of the tenets of our lives is that life is an illusion. That what we see is what we’ve created to be our own personal illusion; how we feel, how we see life, how we relate. It’s all totally unique and it is totally possibly to change what we see and what we understand by rethinking that illusion.

That part takes practice but can change dramatically the boundaries you set for yourself and those around you.

Other more physical boundaries are easier to change

There are many things we can do easily – perhaps with a little intention and focus – to change our immediate situation.

  1. Learn to disconnect; turn off the news, shut off your notifications, stop watching FB and Telegram or limit yourself.
  2. Stop talking about the situation continuously and find things to provide a positive distraction; a new hobby, a walk in nature, etc.
  3. Understand that through these times not everyone in a family may agree. That sometimes family members may want you to do something because “they are very worried about you and it would make them feel better“.
  4. Agree to disagree with love rather than anger.

Look to our Ancestry

I’ve written a lot about our ancestry and also our constitution in the past few years and this is often where our lack of resilience comes from.

And if you seem to have much less resilience than you imagine you should despite your best efforts, you can be pretty sure that somewhere in the past is a history of trauma or troubles that were so harsh or devastating that they have left a taint which manifests as fragility or anxiety that runs through the line.

Certainly you can see this in parents and their children, and particularly in parents who feel they must shelter their children from the world. And that’s not to say they shouldn’t, but that sometimes the anxiety and fear that goes with that desire, is what produces children who lack resilience and live in fear themselves.

Practice Forgiveness

The art of forgiveness is often not about forgiving someone else but about forgiving ourselves! Because really everything that we see out there on the palette of our life, is what we have manifested for ourselves, created as our illusion.

I don’t believe in coincidences and I don’t believe that life is random, so if we come from that angle, you create what you need to work with and experience life through. You can change what is out there in your life and we’ll talk about that a bit further on.

So forgiveness of self – with a smile – can be a powerful tool for change.

Learn to Let Go

And following on from forgiveness comes letting go, because we do have a tendency to dwell on and mull over things so that they take over our life and become a giant elephant in the room. Dwelling on an event or a person or whatever it is often makes us a victim or makes them the bad person, and while we live in this energy we make ourselves vulnerable to being wounded again.

Practising letting go, because it is definitely something you have to work on, helps us build resilience, to find a point of calm and to ground us.

Surrender

This should probably have come before ‘letting go’ because it can be hard to let go of something if we don’t surrender to the process. There is no failure in surrendering to a situation and it can be a huge relief to do this after a long and bitter fight where it becomes evident we cannot win. There is no shame in surrender, in fact the ability to surrender with grace is an achievement of which we should be proud.

Live in your heart

This is such an important thing to learn to do in these times. There is no ‘us’ and ‘them’, there is only the collective and we are all part of the one. We may each have our individual path which causes us to unconsciously behave in a particular way – sometimes angry, sometimes hurtful – but understanding that we are all part of the same can help us to live without getting caught up in the anger and hostility that is rife at present.

Be grounded

In order to maintain our equilibrium during these times we need to be grounded, to stand firm in our base or we will flutter like the butterfly, blown by the winds of destiny, out of control with nowhere steady to land. To stand in the eye of the storm – the centre of the storm – and to be the observer rather than the victim of the circumstance is something to strive for. Yes we may have to pass through the other side of the storm, but in finding our centre, we can weather this too.

Find your Centre

We all have different ideas about this, but Dean’s perspective on this is that you need to find a spiritual connection to what you resonate with. This can be the still point from which you create your world view and your personal life view. It should bring you peace and joy and it should resonate outwards to those around.

 

Tools for building Resilience

Yoga

Yoga is a great tool to help you find your centre and stay firm in your base. But in this case it’s not so much about the physical aspect of the practise, but about the mindfulness and the breathing. Working with the breath, focusing on the in and the out and learning how to use the breath in times of anxiety, panic and so on, is a tool I frequently recommend to clients.

If you’re not familiar with working with the breath, here’s one link but you might prefer to look for something similar on YouTube.

Check it out here: 8 Breathing Exercises for Anxiety

If you have trouble sleeping, Yoga Nidra, sometimes known as ‘Psychic Sleep’ or ‘Sleep of the Yogi’ is a lovely way to help you relax and drop off.

Here’s the yoga nidra version we used at the end of many of our yoga classes

Free download here: Yoga Nidra

Meditation

Meditation is the tool everyone wants to learn and many people practise successfully with great benefit. Learning to go within in times of stress is an important tool because being grounded and centred can help us find reslience when everything around us is in turmoil.

Trouble is, for some people, meditation isn’t always appropriate in its most pure form. So if your mind is in a whirl, your heart is racing with anxiety and you are living on your adrenals, it can be very difficult to settle down and focus on the breath or on clearing the mind and letting it all go. Your shopping list pops up, your to-do-list appears, you start thinking about that assignment or what to wear to dinner, so it can be a self-defeating process.

Sometimes a guided meditation or relaxation can be a better starting tool if you have a butterfly mind or constant and loud chatter going on and it can avoid self-recrimination over a failure to achieve your goal!

Mindfulness

Aain a tool that has become a major seller, with colouring books, YouTubes, podcasts, downloads and so on. I wanted to give a clear idea of what I think this is so I did my usual and searched and this definition said it all for me:

“a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique”

So apologies to any of you who are successful practitioners of true mindfulness, but this kind of says it all to me. A very long definition, keeping the mind full of stuff, to help you avoid what you really need to be focusing on, which is actually nothing!

Make space & time

This would have to be one of the most important things we can do because while we are in “butterfly mind”, dashing around, not 100% focussed on anything, flitting from one thing to another it’s hard to be in our base, to have that grounding that we need to weather life.

We are often living on borrowed time, burning the candle, cramming things into every waking moment and some people describe it as feeling as if they can’t catch their breath. According to one of those definitions I love, adrenal fatigue is the notion that our adrenal glands become overworked by stress and stop producing the hormones we need, including cortisol. Medically this is declared a myth, but you do feel the energy of someone who lives in adrenal energy when they present in clinic and it is a draining, often hyperactive energy.

Some of the techniques above are good practical ways to start to deal with this feeling, but what you really need to do is take a breath, make some time in the calendar and go chill out. Don’t meditate, don’t focus on mindfulness or go to the gym to run off all that excess energy (really, excess energy – more like adrenal fatigue running the show) … go out in nature, breath in the air (assuming it is fresh), get your feet or hands in the dirt if you have a garden (and if you don’t then plant one), walk on the beach, spend time with your children minus phones and other devices, really tune into life.

I work with a lot of people who exhaust themselves with work, who pop into the office on the weekends, who are up late writing and rewriting assignments (yes I’m guilty of all of this), but several studies show that reducing work time and having more time out can actually be more productive. I always say to clients who are also guilty of this that building in some time to walk around the garden, the block or go out for a coffee can actually make them more productive and encourage them to have a go. Because constantly pushing yourself to meet deadlines by working 24/7, not eating regularly or well and not taking time to smell the roses is going to bring health issues in time. We are not all Oak trees with hundreds of years of strength and resilience in us, we definitely have a use by!

Nourish yourself

We need to eat well, drink enough and do it regularly and some of us do need to take some well indicated and quality supplements, herbs or homeopathics to keep us in peak condition.

Many of you are great with your nutrition and understand that you need to fuel your body if you want it to do the job well.

On the other hand, some people will skip breakfast – the most important meal of the day after potentially a 12 hour fast – and go to work with an empty tank. They’ll then survive on coffee, chocolate, no lunch and late dinner, before doing it all again.

Now I don’t like cooking, unless it’s baking, so I get that, but we cannot fuel ourselves on sugar, coffee or nothing at all and expect to do a good job and to get to the winning post.

I’m not going to talk about nutrition here, but it is definitely one of the fundamental points of keeping us grounded, keeping us healthy and keeping us resilient, particularly in this current climate.

Again, nutrition can be an area where the butterfly mind takes over and people become obsessive about diet and what they can and can’t tolerate. They may also become obsessed with taking anything and everything they think might be helpful, essentially making choices from fear rather than grounding. Our choices in nutrients can lead to health imbalances just as much as our choice in foods, so finding a point of balance and seeking professional support is important in this area too.

Nourish and nurture others

This would extend beyond your family and is a resonance in many cases, rather than a physical process.

If you nurture others, being universally-centred rather than self-centred, this resonance and care rebounds and multiplies and increases in the collective.

Nature yourself

Make sure you take time to walk in nature or at least have some connection with nature. It brings a connection with the life energy of the planet and nurtures our centre and calms our angst.

You may live in a high rise apartment, but even the energy of a house plant or tomato plant on your balcony can give you a connection to nature. Breathe in the energy of the first and ever-present species of our planet, who will – hopefully – be here long after we are gone. Nature will enfold our civilisations more quickly than you can imagine if we were to no longer exist, and absorb them back into the forests and jungles!

Create your life: Vision Boards

Sometimes people just don’t feel like they can build resilience without certain things in their life and that totally makes sense. This may not even be material things as we often found when we taught the art of creating prosperity back in Perth.

Some of our wobbly base can be put down to “lack” of something that is essential, and creating a visual reminder of what we are trying to achieve can be a positive and useful way of focusing our intentions.

There’s lots written online about this, but it’s a useful tool to build resilience.

Here’s a blog I wrote some years back which may benefit from a little tweak in view of recent times, but will no doubt offer some useful information as a starting point.

Read the post here: The Art of Manifestation

Finally…

… some support suggestions from the store

Soul Harmonics Resilience is the latest addition to our beautiful and supportive essences. So new that we still haven’t found the time or location for the image! Including Oak in the mix, use daily or as required to ground, support and bring courage and resilience into your life.

Soul Harmonics are a range of essences that nurture us from base to crown and beyond, so take a look and add them to your life.

Some of our EnviroSprays such as Protection, Peace Be Still and Ground my Life can be a great support in our busy and crazy lives.

Something simple like Aconite can be good for those moments when fear pops up, as can Gelsemium if that fear is paralysing.

Or take a look at our WyldChyld Essences – not just for children, they are becoming more and more pertinent to the times we live in.

 

Resources:

Resilience Skills, Factors and Strategies of the Resilient Person