May you remember your resilience.
by Kari Bergman | Feb 2, 2021
Pain is inevitable. It is part of life in human bodies. Our experience of pain and therefore, our experience of life is greatly impacted by our response to it. In each moment, we get to choose a path of resistance to our circumstances or open to the path that honors our resilience.
Especially in ongoing pandemic, pain is ever present. It is loaded and ready with each refresh of the news feed and it resides within everyday moments, like:
- Isolation and loss of connection with coworkers, friends and family
- Growing pains as we shed old ways of being to become a fuller version of ourselves
- A sense of groundlessness as we struggle to know what is “normal”
- Fear and uncertainty within the events unfolding around us
We can certainly go on, but we won’t. You are not a stranger to pain. We do want to give you an imagination for what is possible in your experience of it.
In his book, My Grandmother’s Hands, Healer and Trauma Therapist – Resmaa Menakem writes,
“Resilience is built into the very cells of our bodies… [and] manifests in a form that’s more about being than doing. Resilience helps us stay grounded no matter what happens to us.”
We will dig deep into resilience in a few, let’s first spend some time exploring resistance.
Shinzen Young, a buddhist American monk offers a helpful equation pointing to the role resistance plays in our human experience.
Suffering = Pain x Resistance
Resistance creates the bulk of our suffering. In this sense, resistance is reactionary and driven by our survival brain. When we find ourselves in a painful experience survival mode kicks in and we fight, flee or freeze. Each of these is an act of resistance — a refusal to accept what is.
When in a painful experience, you likely hear some of the following internal messages:
This is your Inner Critic.
It’s all-time favorite messages are these:
“I am not enough.”
“I am too much.”
Survival mode drives our Inner Critic which itself developed in response to real or perceived danger in our childhood. As adults, our Inner Critics operate in a variety of unhelpful ways in an effort to mitigate pain, failure and disappointment. Originally designed to protect us, they now cause our greatest suffering.
Resilience gives us the ability to grow up and out of Inner Critic survival mode.
The first step in reclaiming our resilience is to acknowledge our default behaviors and thought patterns. Shedding light on our Inner Critic takes its power away. From a place of awareness, we are then ready to take the next step: respond with compassion and curiosity.
With these two steps firmly planted, we are able to “stay grounded no matter what happens.” We shift from resistance-based suffering to resilience-based healing.
Take a deep breath, down into your belly. Imagine you are sitting at the edge of an inflatable pool. It is brimming with water. Rather than kick at the edges causing the water to slosh around or cursing it for being so full, you kneel beside it and with a calm hand push down slightly on the edge, letting the water run out. Watching it flow into the grass and soil below. Using its own momentum and cohesion it drains and makes some space. Now imagine this pool full of water is your pain.
Resilience is our capacity to be with hard things and maintain a state of calm in our mind, heart, body, spirit.
We connect to our resilience when we look at a difficult situation and imagine a future where we will hold gratitude for the experience.
What is filling up your kiddie pool to the edges right now? What are the messages looping on repeat in your mind? Where can you soften? What edge can you let down? What gift may be held within this experience?