We Boomers may have tried too hard to give our kids a sense of self-esteem. We stand accused of rewarding the munchkins for all manner of nothingburger “accomplishments” and fostering a sense of entitlement in Gens X and Y. Now, the tide has turned. Self-esteem is out and resilience is in.
Resilience, which allows a person to roll with the punches, is built internally, and does not rely on external validation. I’ve been trying to develop it myself, because older age can be daunting.
When I am in a situation where somebody is driving me nuts, I enjoy being able to turn it around. I consider how this crazy situation might enhance or inform my life. How might I see it differently and laugh about it, or use it for enlightenment? When bad things happen, I try to find a different, more empowered, perspective. For example:
- One day, Bill was noticeably bummed out. He said he was missing his parents (both deceased). I said I was sorry, and he said, “I’m not. The pain reminds me that I loved them.” Way to turn it around.
- A guy flies past me on the freeway, cutting in and out. Instead of being pissed, I imagine he’s racing to the hospital, having gotten bad news about a loved one, and sympathy replaces my anger.
- Falling asleep last night, I was wracked by anxiety. Instead of buying into it, I told myself, “Your amygdala is on overdrive. Sleep will fix that.” It wasn’t me, it was a gland; a tired, overactive, mixed-up gland, which I could repair by nurturing my body.
- Standing in line at the pharmacy, I’m fixated on how annoying, and annoyingly slow, everybody in front of me is. But wait: it’s actually an opportunity. I whip out my phone and resume reading a novel I started last night on Kindle. Or check my email.
- In the same line, guy is talking loudly on his on cellphone, and I’m forced to listen. Instead of getting annoyed, I listen avidly for characters and situations I might use in my next novel. Thanks for the material, buddy!
I admit my examples are pretty lightweight, but the brain has a certain plasticity about it; what if you started small and worked your way up? Might this skill not help you when dealing with the heavier difficulties in life?
I get a real rush out of not feeling stuck, trapped, or victimized. Resilience is a powerful tool to use, and a good skill to model for our kids and grandkids.
What are some examples of resilience in your life?