All this focus on happiness has filled in a missing link for me. It is the missing puzzle piece in my career thus far which is probably why I am ferociously all over it now. The picture is getting clearer and bigger as we sit for tea. Yesterday I was reading and writing about resilience. Resilience is something that I heard about in social work school. We were encouraged to see the ability our clients had to bounce back from the worst atrocities known to human kind. Over the years in the field I have only heard clinicians speak about resilience when discussing
clients who are continuously re-experiencing trauma repeatedly through abusive relationships with themselves or others.. For the average social worker, this is every day work. Over time we forget that there there are folks with trauma that are living in a different way. We may forget for a moment that decisions are being made, whether conscious or unconscious, to continue to re-experience the trauma. There are lots of compassionate ways of empathizing with folks who can’t seem to stop the pattern from happening. At the same time we can can end up buying into the notion that because trauma has occurred it means that it will forever define how people behave from this point forward. This way of thinking has a compassionate intention but it also creates an attachment to the wound from the past not making space for the transformation of this energy into something beautiful. It wasn’t until three years ago through yoga training that I was invited to find distance from the old story of the past and re create a new story. The details of the story that happened to us in the past are a part of us; they certainly are not all of us. But up to this point, I was surrounded by messages that conflicted with this. Beyonce sings about being a survivor and we all sing along thinking “Ya I’m a Survivor.” We identify with words such as survivor, addict, alcoholic, adult child of alcoholic, depressed, anxious, bipolar, like we attach to other forms of identity such as black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Irish, Italian, Polish, Catholic, Jewish and so on. The disease model has us attached to our wounds. But what if we were to see these identifiers as a puzzle piece rather than the complete puzzle. What would that even look like?
Last night I came upon the above Ted talk with Amy Purdy. I loved her. I mean seriously, like I wanted to just give her a huge hug right through my IPad. She reminded me of the Ted talk with Amy Mullins and story I told about my Nana in the post Aww how does it feel….to be on your own, with no direction home, like a rolling stone…The spirit of Purdy and Mullins so reminds me of my Nana and other souls I have met along the way who have found a way to transform their pain and sorrow into a story of based upon thriving. Attaching to the wound helped me begin to understand it better. It also gave me a community of people who understood it better too. But it wasn’t until I created distance from it that I had an opportunity to begin to heal. If I stayed in what was suggested and traditionally done, I would have been attached to that wound until the day I die. That did not work for me and I would suggest that it doesn’t work for most if you are interested in healing. As a process of being on earth human beings go through pain and suffering. There isn’t one person who doesn’t have their own story of survival. The one thing I pose as something to ponder is how can we honor those wounds, nurturing them without attaching to them? Is there a way we may see them as beautiful marks we carry that open up to a source of strength, courage and eventual peace. If this were the case, we would need to look at the true definition of resilience. Webster states the following “resilience…the capacity of a strained body to recover it’s size and shape after deformation caused by compressive stress or an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.” So it’s the ability to recover, interesting. That does not mean= that you will go back to where you were before the compression or stress. An alcoholic or addict will never be able to use substances in safety again but does this mean that they need to be attached to their wound for the rest of their life? I tell my clients that they are that and so much more. It is the more that I am intrigued by and want to help people discover.
How do we become resilient seems to be the only thing left to ponder. How do we become whole again rather than seeing ourselves compartmentalized stuck in a jail cell forever and ever? Resilience building means creating ways of adapting to the stress and strain of life. It is not ignoring or avoiding the stress. These skills include increasing community and problem solving, increased capacity to
manage strong feelings and impulses, creating a positive view of yourself which includes confidence and strength and increasing the capacity to make realistic plans and carry them out. All of these are skills that therapists commonly use in practice. The slight shift that I feel is important is the way in which we think about adversity. What has become clear for me is that decreasing misery is not interesting to me, I am passionate about working towards bringing in lightness of being and joy. In order to do this, it is important to find ways to create distance from the limiting definitions we take on about what has happened to us in this lifetime or others. We are not simply victims but are active participants as well. Willingness to take responsibility and be ready for transformation is the key piece. Softening the energy around healing is also important. Instead of applying a fighting, angry, struggling energy, what about softening into those spaces that feel hurt and are suffering. Being willing go into the dark places to find the light without medicating them away with alcohol, drugs, sugar, food, relationships, etc is the key to healing. There is no getting over or under, the only way is through. This is the route
that I have found because if there was an easier way I would have done it:)
So I ask you today…what brings you joy? What makes you feel alive? So alive that you are bursting with joy? Answer those questions and you will begin to have a recipe that will help you begin to transform the pain from the past. If we continue to identify with our pain, we will get more pain. Our car goes where our eyes go. It’s painful to be in that place and it’s also painful to see others in that place. So for today, what can you do to help embody passion and joy?
Hope you have a passion