For generations we’ve learned that true strength, grit and resilience comes from the ability to pull yourself up by your bootstraps and move on. Get back on that horse. Don’t wallow for too long. Carry on! For me, this was my super power and I was a master at this time and time again. My tenacity and perseverance allowed me to keep going when the going got tough. No obstacle could stop me. I continually achieved my goals and then some. Resilience was my middle name. Or so I thought.
My Cup Runneth Over.
But something was missing. While I was taking quick action to move on, what I didn’t realize was that I had become saddled with unaddressed, buried emotions in the process. All of it just sat there in the corner of the room covered with a tattered blanket of stress and unhappiness. My over-achievements and trudging forward became less and less effective. Over the years this had serious impact on my physical wellbeing with chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, and autoimmune diseases.
Like any finite container you keep pouring into, it eventually becomes full. Trying to stuff more into it is an exercise in futility, only increasing the pain and preventing you from living fully. I’ve had years of catastrophic stress hit my life with my child’s mental illness and later a heart breaking divorce. I found myself without reserves. My container was overflowing and starting to crack. For the first time I was lost and feeling unable to move. I couldn’t pull myself up like I used to. No amount of tenacity was going to fix this and that scared me to my core. After all, who was I without my super power?
Don’t Get Up.
Here is what I’m learning – that resilience is NOT about how fast I get up after a fall. We’ve been conditioned to believe the speed at which we move after a fall is strength. We encourage others to move on when things get tough. We celebrate and applaud those who do, seeing them as role models for grit. Don’t get me wrong, we do need to get on with our lives at some point….but not before we understand the fall.
Understand the Fall.
I just started reading Brene Brown’s book, Rising Strong. In it she describes the most resilience people are those who take stock when they find themselves facing challenges in their lives. Despite the pain, they stay face down with vulnerability and curiosity, taking in the surroundings from this new perspective — exploring what it looks and feels like, seeking the lessons, and listening for the healing that is needed. Resilient people allow themselves the time they need. They sit with it and in the muck, even if it’s tough and they want to run for the hills. They befriend what’s there as part of their journey at this time and when it’s time to part ways, they do so with gratitude and grace.
Resilience Comes From the Fall.
This isn’t easy work. Being face down sucks which is why we want to hop up and start running so fast. Before you get up, stop and take a breath. Acknowledge that you’re down and make a decision about how you’re going to proceed. Because here’s the truth — allowing yourself to fully experience the fall is the only way to true fulfillment… to the joy and peace you long for, to health and happiness, and to the authentic life you were meant to live.
I find myself face down again recently… sprawled out on the floor wondering how I got here. The hard-wired familiar response to get up and run is coaxing me with the ease of ignorance and false bliss. Today I’m choosing another path to resilience. Despite the immense pain, fear and heartache I’m feeling, I’m going to stay face down for a while and see what’s here for me… the good, the bad and the ugly. This time I won’t rush through it but give myself the time to be here while holding onto the hope of powerful growth and transformation.
I imagine that with each moment of facing my truth with vulnerability, each moment I let the full experience of this fall into a conscious space in my life, each moment I allow myself to acknowledge and feel it all – my container is slowly emptying. And in this beautiful new space I’ve created is where I will engage the full force of my super powers and soar to unlimited heights.
If this resonates with you and you’d like some help with your own resilience, please contact me today. I’d love to hear from you.