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