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Building Resilience

“None of us knows what might happen even the next minute, yet still we go forward. Because we trust. Because we have Faith.”   -Paulo Coelho


It’s easy to trust when life is giving us what we want, when our relationships are stable and communication flows. Leaning toward trust when our health is broken, our relationship connections are tattered and we can’t find the words to express our own needs is where trust becomes our capacity for resilience. In the moments when life is falling apart, when our best laid plans are dashed and lying in a heap of disappointment that we have the opportunity to grow more resilient. This deep inner work is one of the highest forms of love. It is the work that transforms us into our most authentic and compassionate selves.

I often tell my kids that life is first a problem solving adventure. Watching as they can easily become overwhelmed with life’s adversity has shown me time and again that the outcome often has less to do with the external life circumstances than what we bring to the challenge from inside. I have tried to teach them by example that what transforms all life challenges into something that makes us more whole is our capacity to not give ourselves away. This is a kind of radical trust, tapping your inner resilience, which keeps you present to the truth about yourself and doesn’t allow you to make the situation worse with a downward spiraling story line of victimization and blame.

Resilience, like love, is a skill that we all contain, like a seed of goodness that lets you befriend yourself when things go wrong. It is a form of self compassion that holds your back and encourages you to try again. Like love, it takes practice.  Resilience encourages you to know and play to your strengths.  We improve this skill in regular daily choices: by choosing foods that nourish instead of junk that fills, by spending time with people who appreciate you, instead of people who undermine, by giving our attention to things that spark our curiosity and desire to know instead of getting lost in negative storylines that surround us in the news and on Facebook.

Maybe the best reason to dedicate yourself to building your own muscles of resilience is because it is the only way to ensure living in resilient relationship. Many a valuable relationship has been abandoned because one or both of the partners did not have the ability to see beyond their shared adversity and hold onto the many gifts that were also present. Resilience becomes more powerful when it is shared just like love, the multiplier of having someone show up with true tenacity of spirit buoys even the darkest moments. All long-term loving relies on each partner’s ability to believe in a future that might not always be apparent.

This is the ultimate form of showing up for someone you love- having the courage to bear the disappointment of life together and the patience required to hold the discomfort and not make the situation worse by spinning it into a storyline that cements everyone’s pain. The most heroic stories we tell and the love stories that get passed on through centuries share this one truth that overcoming the odds of life with compassion, trust and faith is the only life worthy of our efforts. You have everything you need to write your own heroic tale: trusting life begins with building your muscle of resilience.