We all walk ancientrails. Welcome to the journey.

Resilience Strategies

Written By: Charles - Mar• 26•20

Spring and the Corona Luna

Thursday gratefuls: Kate’s fingers healing, slowly. (due to her Reynaud’s disease) Zoom. The wire that brings in the internet. The internet, making this whole situation more bearable. Books. Authors like Kim Stanley Robinson, Bruce Sterling, Isaac Asimov, Neal Stephens, William Gibson. Emotions like sadness, grief. The notion and practice of resilience.

Here’s an excellent written out Tedtalk on resilience by Lucy Hone*. Three strategies are the focus of the piece: 1. Know that suffering is part of life. 2. Carefully choose where you’re directing your attention. 3. Ask yourself: “Is what I’m doing helping me or harming me?”

1. Know that suffering is part of life. At seventy plus number one is a lesson most of us have learned. Parental deaths. Serious illness. Depression. Failure. Divorce. Life has difficult, damned difficult moments. The book of Job is an object lesson in recognizing suffering as part of life, not as something happening only to you. That’s the main point here: you’re not being picked on, Covid19 is not the first, nor will it be the last instance of suffering.

2. Carefully choose where you’re directing your attention. Number two may not be so obvious. I’m going to quote the first paragraph from Ms. Hone’s talk:

“I’ve found that resilient people have a habit of realistically appraising situations, and typically they manage to focus on the things they can change and learn to accept the things they can’t. This is a vital and learnable skill.

And, she says further on: “Whatever you do, make an intentional, deliberate, ongoing effort to tune in to what’s good in your world.” If your media choices right now focus on the next coronavirus news, you might want to consider a diet. Say, reading the newspaper or watching the news or listening to the podcast at a certain time, for a particular length of time.

I have, for years, kept a good news file. I toss in there certain birthday cards, notes from friends, anniversary cards and notes. Notices from things I’ve helped make happen. Pictures of kids and grandkids, dogs. Anything that’s personal and positive. If I start to turn down the blues trail, I take it out. This could be done on a computer, too. Just open a file, cut and paste into it.

3. Ask yourself: “Is what I’m doing helping me or harming me?” I read this article several months ago, then slipped it into my resilience notebook on Evernote. I’d forgotten the first two strategies, but this one stayed with me.

It’s so easy to slip into patterns, habits, routines that are unproductive or down right harmful. With this question though you can challenge yourself, ask yourself, is this worth it?

I know, for example, that if the melancholy I felt yesterday were to continue, it would be harming me. It’s very instructive to have this question to pose. If it’s not helping me, what can I do to alter it? How can I choose to focus myself differently?

Once in a while I get stuck in an anger loop with Kate. A perceived slight, an argument, just the frustrations of being together most of the time. I’m imagining this is an issue right across the country now. This doesn’t help resolve whatever is bothering me, or help her. It hinders me, hinders us.

This question helps me remember that I can choose a different path. We can talk it out, decide to handle things in a different manner. We’re not destined to stay in a negative place.

Resilience is a key to staying afloat at any time. In this, the time of the virus, it is a necessary skill, one which, if you don’t have it now, it behooves you to learn. More on this later.

*Lucy Hone is a codirector at the New Zealand Institute of Wellbeing & Resilience and a research associate at AUT University in Auckland. She is also the author of the book Resilient Grieving.

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