What is resilience and why is it important?

In this blog I will go into these two questions and build a picture of how much of life becomes a serious challenge without some kind of an understanding of resilience and how it translates into self-belief and self-confidence.

When challenge presents itself in our lives much of how we respond to it follows an unconscious process. We may frame the challenge by seeing ourselves as not able to face it, from a skill level, from a character level, from a comprehension level etc. Any number of these kinds of unconscious responces will pop into the mind as we relate ourselves to the situation or issue at hand.

These thoughts and ideas are an expression of the experiences in our lives and what we have made of them.

If we have been consistently held back from facing challenge and working our way through it by parents, education or lifestyle we will have an extremely limited pool of resources to draw from. In the military there is a saying “we will not rise to the challenge; we will fall back to our nearest level of training”. What this is saying is that we can only face a given situation if we have been prepared for it by going through similar trials.

If our parents hovered over us as children and swept any potential risks away we will associate risk with other people taking care of them for us and most challenges will overwhelm us very quickly. If we identify with this behaviour long term and allow it to condense into part of our personality we will find our experience of life extremely frustrating and our options very limited.

This is an artificial reality of self-imposed limitation based on one simple and reversible problem, lack of training.

We humans are programed at a genetic level to conserve energy. This plays out in the body’s overriding concern, to maintain homeostasis. To maintain equilibrium and harmony between all the body’s systems and to use the least amount of energy to do so.

That is why discomfort is such a problem for so many. There is so much conflict and difficulty with improving ourselves because improvement introduces change into homeostasis. We love to stay the same, it’s comfortable, and it’s easy.

When adversity visits an un-trained individual they will feel personally threatened by adversity at a survival level. What’s happening here is the person’s homeostasis that expresses itself as a comfort zone is being challenged.

If you’ve ever heard yourself say, “that’s too hard, I don’t have the time, I’m not ready, that’s dumb, I could never be that kind of person”, pay attention. This kind of noise is the protective ego doing it’s very best to keep us locked down and staying the same; it is not your actual reality. The ego is the voice of homeostasis.

If the ability to adapt is not trained then the response will be overwhelm, un-necessary pain, wasted time, blame of external factors/people and a new layer in the current inefficient coping strategy.

This in essence is resilience: it is the ability to adapt. To read the terrain of the challenge and navigate skilfully through, knowing and trusting ourselves enough to “find the way”.

Human beings as a species are defined by their peerless powers of adaptation. Even a very brief glance at any aspect of human history what will stand out is the sheer variety and diversity. This is only possible because of our phenomenal ability to look at situations, see possible and more effective strategies, and then implement them. All of human history is summed up in that word; adaptation.

Adversity and challenge are absolutely guaranteed in this life. To be surprised when they strike is to miss-understand our place on this earth. Many attempt to create a life without suffering, this is simply not possible. No one is immune, we all face our tests, how we rise back up can often become the best parts of who we are .

Conversely it is very heartening to understand that the fundamentals of resilience are all-ready on-board, hard wired into us at a neurological level, they may be just currently off line. Resilience training brings all these deeper aspects of us to the surface. To encounter these powers is incredibly inspiring and we realise our limitations were no more than layers of thought, nothing more.

Resilience training is a set of master keys that access our will, our perseverance, our intelligence, our spirit and ultimately bring forth our love of life. Living wholeheartedly, having understood and faced our fears and as a result deepened the connection we have to ourselves is to be truly alive.

Nothing is beyond your reach.

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