Earthquakes

Every day, all around the world, tiny earthquakes occur multiple times. Most often they are tiny, they can’t be felt, they register really low down on the Richter Scale. At other times, fortunately far less frequently, massive earthquakes cause widespread decimation across whole regions and cause enormous loss of property and life. Often in earthquake prone areas, buildings are constructed to be ‘earthquake proof’, with a strong central core yet with a degree of flexibility, so that a building is able to move with the earth’s movements rather than standing rigid and become damaged. Where structures are not built with the same strict building codes (unfortunately all too often in the poorest areas of the world), we see devastation.

We can liken this to our own lives. Every day we withstand small seismic shocks which we hardly register – traffic, crime, dealing with difficult people. Occasionally in our lives we will suffer a massive earthquake, the ones that register 8 or 9 on the Richter Scale -the death of a loved one, a divorce, a life-changing health diagnosis. And in between that are plenty of other seismic shocks which can threaten to damage us, shake our core.


How do we become like earthquake proof buildings? The answer is by investing in ourselves just as we invest in a building.  By building and cultivating our resilience before the earthquake strikes we enable ourselves to be better equipped to withstand the everyday shocks and the big ones. The quakes which would see others who haven’t invested in themselves be shaken to the ground.

Written by Pippa Shaper

Photo by Andrew Buchanan on Unsplash

Photo by Dawid Zawiła on Unsplash

The Capacity for Authentic Resilience

“Life doesn’t get easier or more forgiving, we get stronger and more resilient”. We are often asked whether resilience is something that people are born with, or whether it something that you can develop – and the answer is both. We are all born with some degree of resilience- the human race would not have survived without it! However some people appear to be born with naturally higher levels of resilience than others. Author W Thomas Boyce, in his book “The Orchid and the Dandelion” refers to “orchid children’ who need delicate handling, and ‘dandelion children’ who are hardier and seem more resilient.

Whatever our inbuilt levels of resilience, the good news is that we ALL have the capacity to cultivate greater levels of resilience. Whilst resilience can be developed and honed by through going through difficult times, learning the tools of Authentic Resilience can also help us ‘resilience proof’ ourselves, preparing the way for when the shocks and stresses of life hit us.

The Relentlessness of Change

One of the BIG concepts we talk about within our resilience work is that of impermanence, which falls within the 6th R – Relentlessness of Change. It is a concept that can take a life time to wrap our heads and hearts around.
Impermanence acknowledges that everything changes, continually, whether we want it to or not. When we cling to what was, we don’t allow for what is and what might be.  The concept of impermanence is about “allowing”, about surrendering our idea of how we think things should be and embracing what is.

Reality Check

Our Ten R’s of Authentic Resilience  starts with number one -Reality: staring down the brutal truth and making meaning of the mess. When we are faced with change, challenge or adversity we can tend to take one of several positions. One of them is denial. “This isn’t happening to me” , “If I don’t think about it, it’ll all go away!” or even the optimistic sounding “Oh it’s fine! It’s all going to be OK!”

Other people can go to the opposite extreme: dramatisation of the facts, “My whole world has come to an end!”, “This is going to affect everything!” The truth is that resilience lies in the middle ground- that of realistic optimism. Being able to look at the facts head on, but with hope. Remaining positive about the future, but without a Pollyanna like approach. Realistic optimism means truly acknowledging your situation and balancing optimism with realism.