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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.