‘Bamboo that bends is stronger than the oak that resists.’ – Japanese Proverb
Life can be really rough, life can also bring great joy and elation. But how do we fly in those changing conditions without the wind blowing us away or the rain washing us out? It is inevitable that at times we will find ourselves staring into the dark eyes of adversity, face to face with hardship and discomfort. Trauma, tragedy and threats to our livelihood are all part of the human condition and if you are yet to experience this in your life then the tools of resilience are even more important to stash in your belt, because those experiences will come. None of us are free from difficulty or distress but we all have an inbuilt mechanism for recovery and that is resilience. Resilience governs our ability to rebound, to be pliable and to regulate our emotions in order to find the capacity within ourselves to adapt- even in the face of great challenge.
With the ways of modern life many of us have lost the ability to sit with discomfort. If we find ourselves amongst difficulty we check out, physically or mentally. There are infinite options for escapism so there is no need to stay. You can eat, you can watch, you can run, you can play, you can numb, you can do virtually anything except sit and actually feel. But the process of cultivating resilience involves us sitting with what we are feeling, actually experiencing strong emotions and also realising what we need in order to avoid these feelings in the future. Resilience requires us to ask ourselves the difficult questions- such as; how did I get here? And how am I going to create change so I don’t end up here again? By asking these questions of ourselves we realise self-empowerment, we find we do have the capacity to strengthen our weaknesses. Resilience helps us develop into ourselves.
We must also remind ourselves that resilience is not ‘powering through’. Resilience is taking time for self-care and reflection, it is accepting that change is the only constant and that whatever change you are dealing with, has been sent to keep things in perspective. Most importantly resilience requires learning, whether you are learning about yourself or learning about your relationships with other people. Your learning allows you to cultivate not only strength but flexibility. We become malleable.
Ultimately, everything around you will change, your environment will be tumultuous, your relationships will be joyous, your life events will be traumatic; but what resilience affords you is the ability to come back every single day to who you are and why you are here. Just like bamboo you can blow in the breeze and stand strong in the cyclone, yet despite the conditions you can arrive steadily back in the position you started. Only this time your roots have grown stronger, your fibres thicker and your flexibility insurmountable. Over time you will become so resilient that you will be able to support other people and structures because of your experience and your resilience.
So when life has you swaying in the wind, or thrashing about in the storm- remind yourself to be resilient just like bamboo.