Over the past week, a few things have come up that have challenged me a bit, and caused me to reach out to friends. During one discussion, the person mentioned that she is currently reading a book that talks about resilience.
What exactly is resilience, and what does it mean for us in life? How does a person know if s/he is resilient? Is it one of those “buzzwords” that come and go as the next trend in self-improvement replaces what is currently hot?
“Resilience is that ineffable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever. Rather than letting failure overcome them and drain their resolve, they find a way to rise from the ashes. Psychologists have identified some of the factors that make someone resilient, among them a positive attitude, optimism, the ability to regulate emotions, and the ability to see failure as a form of helpful feedback. Even after a misfortune, blessed with such an outlook, resilient people are able to change course and soldier on.”
That is from the Psychology Today web site, and in my opinion, a pretty good synopsis of what it means to be resilient.
One of the things that happened related to a community that had welcomed me when I first got here, and which I felt I was becoming a part of and enjoying it. Unfortunately, things have changed, and last week one of the leaders of the community made some statements in front of me which led me to feel not at all welcome in the community anymore. It was really painful and to be honest I am still trying to figure out how to work through it because it is something that is very important to me. It is really easy to say “oh just forget it and move on” when it is not you in the situation and you don’t realize the importance of being connected to a community.
It also goes back to something that I find challenging in re: identity because I converted to Judaism, and when people tell me I am not a “real Jew” because of that, it makes me wonder – what exactly IS a “real Jew”, because it is not related to race. To me, it is related to how I live my life, and what kind of person I try to be. It is about doing good in the world, and yes, some religious aspects. But to be so unkind as to tell someone else that they are not legitimate, well, how cruel is that?
On the other hand, like I said, it is not the only time I have encountered this attitude and what I try to do is to focus on the people who are more positive and accepting. People who are small-minded and judgmental…well, I would rather not focus on them but move forward with those who are open-minded. I cannot pretend that it is not hurtful though…to be rejected by the same person who had accepted me with open arms, invited me to her house, etc.
Though I had a good weekend, it exacerbated the “cold” that I had begun to get last week. It started with a sore throat and then moved into a dry cough, which was unusual because that is not the patterns my colds usually follow. Well, we had previously planned the weekend’s events, and Monday I was not feeling so well so I did not go in to the office. Unfortunately, my counterpart’s husband died (after battling Cancer) and I felt bad that was not there, but still did not go in on Tuesday – I went to the PC office instead to see the doc. The diagnosis? He heard crackling in my lungs=Bronchitis. Luckily I got there fast because I knew it was not a virus or normal, what was going on. I have lived most of my life in cold climates but did not get Bronchitis until I came to a tropical one!
Fair enough – continue to work through things, try to rest as much as I can…and treat myself with kindness. Unfortunately, it seems that others don’t always feel the same way and interestingly enough, when I am not feeling well physically or emotionally, see an opportunity to attack me. This is something that has happened with this person a number of times in my life, and try as I have, I cannot seem to get through to this person that we have different styles of communicating, that we see the world differently, and I don’t necessarily agree with how this person views things or want to engage. I have my own things here to deal with, my own opinions and thoughts, and don’t really want to go down some of these paths with the person.
Of course, that makes me wrong, and unintelligent, and any other number of things.
I wish I could say this was the first time I went down this road, which always ends with a crash. Try though I might to disengage, it seems I am locked into a fast car that is hurtling toward a cement wall, and all I could do is watch as it approached.
So what do I learn, and how do I remain resilient?
I’ve learned that I need to reach out to people I trust and care about, and tell them I need a few kind words.
I’ve learned that other peoples’ issues with anger and other emotions don’t need to be something I deal with, no matter how close a friend or relation. I don’t have be the receiver of that negativity.
I’ve learned that, regardless of the things I’ve gone through in life, I am still a positive person who is reaching out to others and trying to do some good in the world – in other worlds, even though I may sometimes lose my focus for a few days or a week, I eventually regain it and am able to move forward again.
I’ve learned that no matter what negative people say, I am a good, kind, loving person.
I’ve learned that no matter how bad I feel, I will get through it and there are always things to be learned from the dark times.
I’ve learned that it’s okay to have a few days where I don’t feel well, and it is okay to ask others for help.
I’ve learned that I can overcome anything and retain my fundamentally positive outlook on life.
And I keep learning with every new day and every new experience.