What makes us resilient

I don’t you about you but in these strange times my mood dips and rises, going from feelings of inconsolable sadness to sunny moments when I feel full of gratitude, lucky and brave.

These strange times are asking us to dig deep into our souls and to find our bravery. They’re testing our resilience to keep going with our beliefs and values in place, our ability to find the inner strength and resources to be positive, upbeat and think ‘we can do this’.

There’s an odd upside to having lived through difficult times. For myself, I know I have an inner resilience, born out of a lifetime of aiming for a fuller life, more than the one that was being imagined for me as a child and young adult.

When I was 12 yrs. I was given copies of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre and Louise May Alcott’s Little Women. Even though I knew they were fictional characters, Jane Eyre and Jo March inspired me. They had bravery, were direct in their manner, and bodied a ‘can do’ attitude. They both were defined by their belief and values, deeply seated in kindness. In the real world, there was no one in my life that that had any expectation on how I would or could work through my life being a success. So, the qualities of Jane and Jo, were there for me to try on instead. In their shoes I found I was able to stand grounded in myself at school, and found I became popular with both students and teachers who described me as kind and principled.

At 15yrs, with the end of school life in view, working life was calling. My parents felt that Marks and Spencers would be a great move, for at the time you could get your hair and teeth looked after, a perk of working there. But I knew that this was not what I imagined for me. I applied to Bradford college, Preliminary Residential Child Care. My mother was angry, but my father argued. His response was let her try – at the interview they will find out she’s not that bright, and she can go to M&S, she might even make supervisor.

I wondered how could I be successful? The O level young people were the bright ones at school. I watched them walking up and down the halls. They move different, standing taller, a little swish about them, smiley. I thought if I could present like that, just maybe I would come across as clever and confident. I practiced when I could walk to and from school, in my room practicing smiling, looking confident, digging deep with in myself, reminding myself Jo March would have found away. It worked, I was accepted by Bradford College, successfully completed the course and got a job working with children with special needs at a residential school.

It wasn’t until I attended my Practitioner training in neuro linguistic programming (NLP) in 2003 that I understood that I had made my life fuller and richer than I could have dreamed of. I had used modelling, in other words. I would check out who was being successful, find them inspiring and adopt the traits which seemed good to me. If these they felt comfortable with in me, they stayed.

I found this strategy gave me the necessary life skills to support me through life’s up and downs.

They enabled me to dig deep when life needed me to be centred, calm and clear. It meant I could make choices, because life is life, through head injuries, changing  careers, having babies, or being in isolation. Being inspired by fictional and non-fictional people has helped me to find my resilience.

The last 3 Thursdays, Judith Lowe, of PDD learning has been giving recaps on NLP skills. Judith’s talks have reminded me how I do find my resilience, in tough times even such as now, where putting my practice on hold meant putting my identity on hold. I hung on and took myself to the place where those inspirational people reside, inside my heart and soul.

One Reply to “What makes us resilient”

  1. This really resonated with me. I too was struck by the contents of a book when I was 16, although mine wasn’t fiction. It was one about the Bahai faith, which stated that we had the power within us and all the resources were already there. To know that I was powerful and armed with my own internal tool kit was completely life-changing. I started reading self-help books which told me the things I needed to know about making the most of myself. They gave me the foundations for a more positive adulthood and I’ve never looked back. Until that point I had believed that the power belonged to someone else. That if perhaps I prayed enough my prayers would be answered without me having to do anything. After reading that book I realised that the power was within and I could make my own changes without relying on the benevolence of anyone else.

    Great blog.

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