Bouncing back

Dec MBS 2Flexibility, pliability, suppleness, plasticity, springiness, spring, give. Resilience = the ability of a substance to spring back into shape; elasticity; the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.

I guess the notion of springiness or elasticity can be applied to people. I can think of quite a few I know who seem to have an almost un-natural ability and capacity to bounce back from the most challenging situations.

Some people seem to have never-ending traumas and catastrophes happen to them throughout their lives. I’m talking like major stuff, not just your little everyday hiccups. Yet they remain cheerful, optimistic, strong, motivated. And humble. Heart centred. How do they do that? What drives them? Where do they find the motivation and willpower to keep on keeping on against all odds, setback after setback? Do they have some bottomless pit of strength that they can dip into?


I can also think of other individuals who just give up. Sometimes seemingly too easily without even trying to confront whatever hard thing has cropped up in their lives. What drives that? Why would someone appear to willingly choose to be a helpless, hopeless victim? From the outside looking in, that is how it can seem. Who knows what has happened to them to make them like that. Perhaps they have been through stuff in the past that has left them depleted, stuck, incapable or unwilling to help themselves.

In the early 2000’s when I was still working I went to an all day workshop on Resilience. It sounded interesting. I had vaguely heard of the presenter but not paid much attention to her story. The topic, however, piqued my interest. It had created quite some discussion in the community mental health team in which I worked at the time. We had wondered if perhaps it was something that could be taught. Or was it an innate quality that some people have and others don’t. I wanted to learn more.

The venue, rather surprisingly, was in a small group of shops on the edges of the Adelaide Hills. Picturesque scenery.  Crisp, clean air.  The call of native birds echoing in the background.  The building was girded by stately, tall eucalypts. Our training room was intimately small. There was only room for a handful of people. As it turned out it suited the day perfectly.

By the end of the workshop all of us had been either reduced to tears or rendered speechless. Some both. I know I was. We had the humbling privilege of listening first hand to a woman whose two young children and father had been killed by her estranged husband. Ingrid Poulson told her horror story with calm dignity. It made it all the more poignant. Everyone was riveted from the moment she introduced herself.

She had been away from home for fifteen minutes to lodge an AVO (apprehended violence order) against her husband. During this time he had killed her children, her father, and then himself. Returning home, she was confronted with the vision of the bloodied  bodies. Her world was turned upside down and inside out. What followed was a story of courage and resilience hard to comprehend.

Over the next several years she struggled to hang on to the shreds of her life. Often she was cloistered from the world wrapped in her cocoon of grief and pain. Slowly she began to realise she had choices she could make. To give up. Or not. She chose not. Her life was rebuilt one painful step at a time. Ingrid Poulson has researched and lived resilience at a visceral level. Her story is powerful testimony to the ability, will and strength to move beyond unbearable tragedy to a life of purpose, meaning and happiness.  From it has come RISE, a training program developed out of her experience and learning. RISE stands for – Resolve, Identity, Support and Everyday Resilience.

Read Ingrids Story

Google Books : RISE

Her story is testament to the strength, courage and motivation I believe lies deep within all of us. It is surprising just how much we are capable of should the need arise.

Soul Gifting November 2017

 Bernadette from Haddon Musings  delights me with her passionate and generous support for “showcasing the talents of the post 9 to 5 generation” through her hosting of the Senior Salon. In it you will find art, music, writing, poetry, photography, creative cooking and fashion to name just a few.  Through her Feminist Friday posts she celebrates the contribution women make to a vast array of endeavours. I am honoured to have Bernadette as a member of my blogging community. Please pay her a visit.

© Raili Tanska

Steps for Peace

“Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.”  George Eliot

21 thoughts on “Bouncing back

  1. The ability to forgive the most horrific crimes against us is a wonderful gift – and the ability to forgive ourselves. I haven’t read Ingrid’s story yet, but am sure she felt guilty for having been away that short quarter of an hour. But without forgiveness, there’s no moving on. Human resilience is indeed incredible.

    1. You’re right on all counts. She was immersed in survivor guilt for a long time. Ingrid now provides training for police and emergency services responsible for responding to DV and has remarried, starting a new family.

  2. Raili, thanks for your extraordinarily kind words about my blog. During the 15 years of taking care of my beautiful son after his traumatic brain injury due to a drug overdose, I learned a lot about resilience. After his death this year, I realized that resilience is a quality that must be constantly nurtured. I have learned that it is very important to love yourself as much as you love others. Life is a gift and we must receive this gift with gratitude.

    1. You’re so right, Bernadette. When I was thinking about what to post today, the story of Ingrid came to mind. It seemed so fitting given your own story of resilience and courage 🙂 I can only begin to imagine what your journey has been like. Life is indeed a gift which we should never take for granted.

  3. What a horrific event to happen to ones family, And what courage and strength to stand there and help people after coming through her own dark tunnel. I can not imagine her heartache and the pain she must have had in overcoming such a thing. Resilience is the right word.
    And thank you for introducing us to Bernadette 🙂
    I hope your own week goes well my friend. ❤

  4. You are a magical storyteller. A gift that transcends and helps lift us over adversity. Bouncing back is such a critical strength in today’s world. Your post gives us hope. And for that, I am so very grateful. ♥️

  5. Wonderful post, Raili – and I applaud and SECOND your “plug” for Bernadette at the end of the story about the resilience seminar. I will be checking out your links, and going back to link this post to something I wrote almost 3 years ago [“When you feel like you can’t bounce back — subtitled, “RESILIENCY: Bouncing back from Setbacks – NOT the usual rah-rah post.]

    I think both posts underscore the importance of TIME – and healing – and that we can’t measure “resiliency” from norms of lives that have not been similarly rocky – OR – before “the fat lady sings,” as they say. Watch for a ping.
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD/EFD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to transform a world!

  6. I don’t think we ever know what we’re made of until we have to go through something tragic and traumatic like that. When I hear people say they could never kill anyone I think pray that you never have to be put to that test.

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