“Your habit of avoiding mental and emotional discomfort is your #1 reason for your being stuck where you are in life.” ― Tony Dovale
Doesn’t it just cut you like a knife when you find words that hold up a mirror to the uncomfortable truth of you? How do you resolve to come to terms with that inner truth and change it if you don’t like what you see?
I find comfort and hope in the word resilience. Resilience is defined as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; to show mental and physical toughness; the ability to spring back into shape.
Inside that strong, self-righteous word is silence. For me the quiet silence of personal power sits in the midst of resilience to encourage me to overcome adversity and hardship in any form and be born again on the other side.
Right now I am in transition and at this moment choose to share my silence of personal struggle at becoming resilient. At almost any cost I will try to avoid mental and emotional discomfort and yes I do feel stuck a lot of the time. I want to be so resilient with the adversities that come along in my life that I could wear it like proud armor. The avoidance usually shows itself with people rather than in tasks that need tending to. Situations like cleaning the house or writing a new article or getting through a long day at work because I am looking forward to something better at the end of the day seem to be acceptable and manageable for me. I can face what needs to be done physically by playing mental games with myself but when it comes to people I am just a wet mop.
I don’t spring back into shape fast enough when it comes to verbally standing up for myself. I avoid conflict. I avoid saying what needs to be said when it comes to people I have to confront. I’m a great ally; great at helping other people work out their thoughts when they have to confront someone but just awful at helping myself.
What usually ends up happening is I walk away, never having said what needs to be said even for the sake of saying the one thing that I know might make a difference. I feel unspeakable.
Have you ever felt unspeakable?
The dictionary defines the word unspeakable as being very bad or evil; impossible to describe in words; incapable of being expressed in words; that may not or cannot be spoken.
Hard to believe with how often I write but when it comes to face to face discussions or as I refer to them, confrontations, there comes a moment when I feel unspeakable. I feel evil inside of my body because my initial reaction to anger is to lash out in anger and I hate myself for thinking and feeling so out of control. I have swirling thoughts that don’t connect in a coherent way fast enough for me to respond in a timely fashion or with dignity. Very often, days later I find that I can intelligently form rebuttals and responses that actually make sense. It takes me that long to form what I wish I could have said in the moment. Somehow I have not yet been able to find my voice. I feel such shame whenever this happens.
I imagine the outcome of what I truly want to be similar to two guys calling each other out for a street fight. They need to establish their position in the neighborhood and so they challenge each other to a fight. Someone will win and someone will lose but at the end of the day they will both have a mutual respect for one another as well as having established a place for themselves with the other kids that they will eventually refer to as friends. I want that. I want to be able to establish myself as someone to respect and be called a friend when the face off is over because I stood up for myself in a debate or confrontation of words.
In doing research in how to become resilient I have learned that I need to not be affected by what is being said. In other words I need to not take it personally. I should know this; it’s one of the 4 most powerful agreements. It is so difficult to stay neutral. I am a feeler. I am sensitive and empathic and sympathetic and my heart is in everything I do and say. However, being able to separate myself from the words that brought up an emotion may just help me to think more clearly and parse through options for an intelligent and balanced response.
Usually my physical response is to remove myself from the situation as quietly and quickly as I can even if this means losing employment. It sounds irrational and pathetic I know but once angry words are thrown out and the evidence shows that the anger seems to be the way that other person chooses to deal with his/her emotions then I’m out. I don’t choose to fight that way or resolve anything that way so I leave.
So the question I have to ask myself is how does it ever help me or the other person if I don’t engage? I can’t possibly be a teacher of possibilities if I can’t hold my own ground. I’ll never get the respect I want from that person or from myself if I keep walking away. Is it a form of turning the other cheek? At some point I have to speak and I have to say what needs to be said unemotionally and intelligently in the moment and THEN if I still feel that walking away is the best course of action I can do it with confidence in my decision.
There are subtle ways in which you and I can build resilience. Here are a few thoughts that have helped me so far:
1) Breathe: I always tell my children that when they face a difficult situation try to take a deep breath and face it head on and remember all that it took to get through that tough moment. The great reward is that the next time you go through something difficult, and I promise you that you will, you will be able to have something to refer back to and build on.
“Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts. Whenever your mind becomes scattered, use your breath as the means to take hold of your mind again.” – Thich Nhat Hahn
2) Create Purpose: Why are you in this difficult situation? How did you get here? How can you successfully and purposefully make this a learning experience that can not only benefit your well-being but help others when they hear your story? Attach a strong meaning to what is driving you through right now and put power to the outcome.
“He who has a ‘why’ to live for can bear any ‘how’.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
3) Network It Out: Where is your tribe? Where are your peeps? Who is part of your army? Is the universe a part of your network? Is G-d? It is so important to have go-to people standing at the ready to help and support and guide and confide. Unload your burden if that is the only thing that will alleviate the initial pain and discomfort. Hearing yourself talk out loud to someone that you trust above all else drains the situation of a lot of power and puts the power to get through back in your hands.
“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.” –C.S. Lewis
4) Ready, Set, JUMP: Launch yourself head on into the problem without a game plan. Just the momentum of knowing you have no choice but to solve the problem is momentum enough. Stay open and stay flexible to whatever solutions pop up. Let the road take you where it wants you to go and be determined to get out of this maze.
“Life is a gamble. There are no sureties. If you want something badly, you’d have to trust your heart and your instincts and then take a leap of faith.” –Alyssa Urbano
5) Time Heals all Wounds: This discomfort won’t last forever unless you learn and do nothing. If you do nothing or take nothing from what you went through then the tough situation gets tougher and will keep coming up more powerfully than ever before.
“Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.” – Pema Chodrin
6) Make a To-Do list: Brainstorm ways to get through this adversity. When you actually sit down and write out your thoughts and plans of attack it secretly empowers you to move forward. Creating a game plan, even if you are asked to abandon the plan along the way, builds confidence inside to help you know that you are capable of problem solving. You are able to make lemonade out of these awful lemons.
“The only thing more important than your to-do list is your to-be list. The only thing more important than your to-be list is to be.” – Alan Cohen
7) Choose YOU: The question is, if someone provokes you is it your decision to do nothing and walk away or is it your response to fear of confrontation? In the end, if only for your own well-being, choose YOU. What are you proud of when you walk away? My guess would be nothing really except that you didn’t get just as angry as the person you are dealing with. Staying calm and not letting your emotions get the better of you is admirable and mature but is there another way? Who do you want to be? In my case I want to be someone that will politely and succinctly argue, defend or rationalize back to the person looking for confrontation. I want to walk away having said everything that needed to be said on my part. I want to feel proud of myself at the end of the day that I did all I could to stand up for myself.
“Seeking excellence means choosing to forge your own sword to cut through the limitations of your life…” – James A. Murphy
Call to Action
Join me, won’t you? Let’s hold each other accountable for the steps we take to build resilience in our lives. Our motivations may be different but the end result is the same; to feel proud and stand tall and live a life of honesty, integrity and self-worth. How will you get there?
If you would like to explore more about personal growth, building and strengthening your success characteristics, or discovering what more you have inside of you please call for a free discovery session in my Art of YOU coaching program. Not ready yet? Please visit my website at www.journeyoncoaching.com. You can reach me by calling 203-560-3061 or send an email to: email@example.com.