Back when I worked the disaster trail, what I enjoyed most was watching resilience at play. In spite of neighborhood-flattening hurricanes, mass casualty losses, catastrophic flooding, and other mishaps, the strength of the human spirit was always quick to move in and carry people forward.
Resilience is not always obvious, at times proving quite subtle. And for everyone, it resounds in its own way. We each play our own special tune, even if we are not consciously aware of its unique melody.
Recently I’ve been struck by similarities between disaster survivors and emotional reactions to recent election fallout – yes, emotional trauma; fears and frustrations raised. It is all very much as people react to other disasters.
Yet I’m again gratified to see the many ways people move on, becoming better and stronger because of what they endured or continue to endure. For you see, trauma doesn’t just bring pain. It also brings growth. In fact, research finds post-traumatic growth more often among those who say they felt significantly affected than those who say the unfortunate incident was no big deal.
There’s no need to continue on as a traumatized nation. We are better than this, and we know it. Tapping back into connectedness is happening all around us, as we participate as both cheerful givers and receivers.
Does your resilience feel lost in translation? Here are some ways you might begin to relocate it:
- Rekindle an old friendship with a phone call or letter
- Start a new creative project, in whatever your medium of passion may be
- Look for ways to “pay it forward,” even if it is something as simple as holding a door for a stranger, or putting a piece of litter in its proper place
- Offer a smile, kind word or “hello” to someone who looks down in the dumps
- Look into a new interest
- Join a group focused on doing for and/or giving to others
- Take a small step toward a simple self-improvement goal, such as taking a walk as a way to get more exercise
- Revisit your faith, no matter whether it stems from a higher power, joint spiritual connectedness, or awe and respect for the natural world
- Help others deal with their fears in ways that are productive, rather than destructive: never underestimate the power of leading by example
The proof of the pudding? Examine your inner self after taking part in any of the above. Sense what is different, whether you experience it as emotional, physical, belief-oriented, or spiritual. That can be your beginning point.
And, a Merry Resilience to all!