Resilience is the power or ability to return to original form after being bent or stretched. It is elasticity. It is the ability to recover from any adversity; mental, physical or otherwise.
The word resilience came to me in response to red-ribbon week at my children’s school and the subject of bullying. For me, the subject and sensitivity to bullying has gone too far. Bullying is certainly nothing new; we’ve simply given it a new name and focused our attention on it. There have always been individuals who cause pain and suffering on the minds, hearts and bodies of others because they themselves are suffering. That hasn’t changed. What has changed is our awareness and nonacceptance of it, and our sensitivity to it. That sensitivity and lack of resilience has created the assumption by many that if anyone has an opinion that differs from ours, they are bullies. Over-sensitivity has caused far too many of our people to take their own lives and take others with them. This sensitivity and lack of resiliency is fueling more and more anger in our societies. The result is the inability to understand each other without judgement, which, in turn, stunts our own growth.
Resilience is the ability to not take the perceptions, choices and actions of others personally.
Resilience comes from knowing that you don’t need to take personal ownership of other people’s issues. What others say, think, feel and do is always about them and not about you. There will always be people who don’t agree with you, who don’t like you and don’t think the way you do. There will always be people who are better looking, more talented and more popular. There will always be parties that you don’t get invited to because you don’t fit their agenda. There will always be people who don’t resonate with you or have chemistry with you. There will always be people who hurt others because they themselves are hurting. That is simply a part of life and always has been. It is no one else’s responsibility to make you happy.
Do you remember the saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me?”
Yes, names do hurt. Not getting invited to the party hurts. Having someone tell lies about you hurts, and yes, hearing an opinion that is the opposite of your own hurts. But it doesn’t need to break you. Unfortunately, people have become so overly sensitive that they now break like china dolls, lashing back in anger and resentment at what feels like the slightest insult against their own beliefs without any real attempt to understand. We have become so sensitive that we have forgotten what bullying really is. Until you have had your head pushed in a toilet, been beaten up in a bathroom, had your faced smashed into a locker, and been thrown into a dumpster, like I was, don’t whine to me about how someone hurt your politically correct and overly sensitive feelings.
Until you have been shot in the head by the Taliban like Malala was, you don’t really understand the full scope of what bullying, and resilience, can be!
Let us continue to teach kindness, compassion and understanding, and also teach resilience. Let us teach our children how to create an environment where we are all free to speak and embrace conversations where we can agree to disagree. Let us teach open-mindedness where conversations can lead to breakthroughs in understanding. Let us create an environment where freedom of speech really is free. Let us use the many voices and perceptions to create a new world that is win/win, where there is no right vs. wrong; instead, there is only understanding. And while there are those whose words and actions are intended to be hurtful because the purveyors themselves are dealing with their own suffering, let us include them with compassion into the conversation, work with them to heal their own wounds and create resilience within themselves.
Every advancement of the human species has come through new understanding, courage to speak even in the face of the greatest adversity and resilience to overcome.
Nothing great was ever accomplished in this world by keeping thoughts and opinions small out of fear of other people’s perceptions. Resilience is using all of that which hurts us to make ourselves stronger and less likely to break. It gives us the flexibility to see other people’s perspectives with a more open mind. It gives us the resolve to be more of what we have the capacity to be. It stretches us and causes us to grow. It gives us the ability to bounce back in the face of failure and adversity.
All great things in this world have stemmed from resilience.