Resilience and Flexibility
(in other words) Gettin’ Back Up After Fallin’ On Yo’ Butt
As I began to gather my thoughts for this post, I found myself musing on a situation that occurred one day when I was between the ages of nine and ten. You see, there was an older boy I liked named Melvin who was a grade ahead of me. I lived in Brooklyn at the time and went to school around the corner from the Brooklyn Museum. On this particular day, I had to go to the main branch of the Brooklyn Public Library—that entire block looked very different than it does now—there was a hill with a ramp-like street you walked up to get into the museum and once up that stretch past the entrance, there was a park between the museum and the library you could walk through that was pretty high up off the street. I loved it, I felt as if I was looking down upon the world.
Now this was a time when we had pretty predictable winters with frigid temps, lots of snow and ice. But this particular day it was all sunshine and butterflies as I walked blissfully up that steep ramp. Not caring a wit about the ice, I was in heaven as I walked next to my man crush, an older boy who looked at me like I had it goin’ on!! I mean come on, the man of my dreams offered to walk me to the library which was wayyyy out of his way I want you to know—I see the scene as plain as day—me in my long hot red plaid coat with my bookbag on my left shoulder, (the very one I slung to protect myself against Venus, the bully) YES, I had that famous bully-slaying bookbag on my person.
A fashion icon I was not but my plaid coat was replete with my sort of matching red plaid metal lunchbox. Oh yes, I was suh-WINGIN! Little did I know I was about to get a lesson in resilience…
When There’s A Change In Plans–But You Didn’t Get the Memo…
Oh my gosh, I was soooooo happy, probably bouncing as I walked, chitter-chattering along as we walked up that hilly path and we got up almost to the top of that hill and whomp! DOWWWWWNNNNNNN I WENT on my butt, sliding the ENTIRE hill of ice and snow. And if that wasn’t bad enough, my lunchbox came traipsing down afterwards hitting me in the head cah-lunk!
And if that wasn’t bad enough, the lunchbox had opened up (it never did really stay closed dammit) and out popped my thermos which hit my lunchbox which had hit my head.
As I assessed the damage (any broken bones?) I. Was. MORTIFIED. But through my mortification I heard the high-pitched screeching shrieking of an 11 year old boy from way up on high guffawing and looking down upon me like I was the biggest joke EVAH.
Meet Miss RESILIENCE Bay-bee!
I did not cry, storm away or shrink. I pulled my wet coat closed and gathered my belongings. In those days thermoses were lined with glass on the inside and mine was totally in shambles. But I remember getting up calmly, walking back up that hill facing the screeching shrieking laughing boy and continuing on to the library.
How was I able to handle that with so much poise? Well, I had already experienced the worst that could happen less than a year before–the death of my mother and my dad remarrying a person I did not know five months later. And step mom was a bitch to me so I had to endure all of that on top of an alcoholic father who was beginning to unravel.
Everyday I got up, fought with my step mom about breakfast till it got cold but had to eat it anyway, then carted myself off on mass transit for over a mile via two buses to a brand new school.
So gettin’ up from bustin’ my ass in front of a silly boy without falling apart? Done.
Little do we realize that the things in Life which are difficult and devastating are the very things that are in the Lesson Plan Books of Our Lives. They lay the ground work of fanning the flames for our resilience.
Oh and yes, that screeching shrieking boy walked me the rest of the way to the library but I seem to remember the “hot romance” cooled down after that.
Resilience is Born WITHIN Us, But We Forget Sometimes
Resilience is something we once exhibited without thinking, otherwise we would have never gotten past crawling—I mean what if as a toddler you said to yourself:
Ok, I rolled over, sat up, and now I got this crawlin’ thang HAPPNIN’
I can zip through the room the fastest evah! I can trip people up cause you can’t see me all the time heh heh heh,
I look cute in my state of the art four-wheel knees and hands buggy, got my mommy, gramma, and er’body on Insta an’ Tik Tok ooh-in n coo-in mannnn I’ma baaaaaadd muhtha OOO CAN’T SAY DAT WORD YET (even tho Uncle John does). But hey, this crawlin’ thang is da bomb…
…and it’s gonna STAY that way ‘cause if I try to stand up, I’m gonna fall and I can’t I can’t I can’t fall, it’s gonna HURT and I definitely ain’t even thinkin’ about walkin’ ‘cause that’s even MORE falling and da the people, the people, the people gonna laugh at meh heh hehhhhhhh wahhhhhhhhhh!
PHEW! Thank goodness we hadn’t learned how to get in our own way when we were new on the scene—we went from gurgling infants to rolling over, sitting up (and spittin’ up), crawling to standing to walking and running. Even though we fell countless times we kept. On. Getting. UP.
Keep It Movin’ Keep It Movin’
But what we didn’t do as toddlers we SOOOOOO do as adults! We say stuff like, “I’m not gonna try that or I can’t get over that I won’t let anyone in I don’t trust anybody to let them close I don’t ME” etcetera etcetera…
Resilience says yes, you’ve been kicked in the teeth by a situation or situations, by a person or persons and you are hurting bad. But keep it movin’ keep it movin.’ How long are you going to stay in pain?
How long are you going to nurse your wounds?
Is staying in the dumps rectifying the situation??
Do you want to continue feeling bad?
RISE UP GET GOING and make a beautiful melody out of those discordant chords.
And yes, our bodies were built to withstand all that falling at that age, but our minds…our mind is as resilient and flexible as it is trained it to be. We have to become more Aware of what we are thinking to live fuller, more enriched lives.
What Gets Our Resilience and Flexibility Muscles in Shape?
1) Inspecting Your Mindset—are you a ½ glass full or ½ glass empty kinda thinker? Do you tend to or always see the worst in situations and people? Are you a trusting person or are you always looking sideways, behind your back, under the bed or in the closets for something bad to happen? Like thoughts draw like things—what you spend in your ThoughtEnergyCurrency draws its equivalent.
2) Recall times when You were Resilient after a disappointment or tough challenge— think of times when you found yourself in a situation that was challenging or difficult, yet you rose above it. Recall times you were working or dealing with extremely unpleasant, difficult people who were sapping your spirit, yet you triumphed.
This is using your Life Experience as an example of your resilience and if you’re struggling right now, you can bounce back!! You’ve already proven it to yourself. And if you can’t find even one example of you exhibiting resilience in your Lifetime (look again), there are many many people with incredible stories of resilience and flexibility that will INSPIRE you!
3) Cultivate a supporting group of folks in your Lives—people who will remind you, and/or through action, have shown themselves to be Resilient and Flexible—note how they roll through Life.
And The Fringe Benefits Are?
As you become more resilient and flexible you may find that your stress and anxiety levels reduce because your need to push back or resist What Is lessens—what it actually boils down to, is being able to Go With The Flow.
Resilience is the discovery and use of your ultimate strength. A dear friend used to say, “if this stuff was easy, everybody would be doing it!” Changing your thoughts, mental habits and expectations ain’t easy but it is doable with Intention, Patience, Humor and Love. Resilience is a most valuable asset to have in your Wellness Toolkit
May you learn to bend like a reed in the wind.
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