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"The Art of Resilience: Learning to Turn Crisis into Opportunity,"
by Valerie Anders
From an article entitled "The Art of Resilience: Learning to Turn Crisis into Opportunity," by Valerie Anders, in _Intuition: A Magazine for the Higher Potential of the Mind_. Issue 17, Aug 97. The idea is that "resilience" ("the hot buzz-word of the 90's") is a quality that CAN be taught and nurtured in kids and adults.
"The Path of Most Resilience"
"Resilience is like a muscle -- the harder we work it, the stronger it gets," says San Francisco psychologist Beth Miller. Miller says about her research on the topic, "I began by asking, 'What makes some people thrive under stress, while others have difficulty holding down a job or having a good relationship?' I found that resilient people had certain skills. So I started to teach those skills." Miller has identified 12 steps on the path to resilience:
1. Admit your vulnerability. The person who puts up a false front in times of stress is the one most likely to collapse. Resilient people admit anxiety, fear, and weakness. They do not try to be superhuman or take a "chin up, grit-your-teeth" approach to life.
2. Find parts of the problem you can manage. "You have to think in terms of what you can accomplish day by day."
3. Develop your ability to communicate. Resilient people don't isolate themselves. They know how to connect and believe that reaching out is natural.
4. Figure out what it is you need--and then go after it. Resilient kids are usually resourceful at getting their core needs met. One young boy who lived in a violent home charmed his best friend's mother into letting him move in. Adds Miller, "It takes a lot of courage to identify what you're lacking and then fill in the blanks."
5. Acknowledge your talents. When things get rough, we find solace in our hobbies. In a tough situation, we need to do something natural and easy -- something that lets us glide through life.
6. Learn to set limits and state your boundaries. Too many of us lose sight of the "protective no"
7. Whenever possible, transform resentment into forgiveness. To be resilient, we need our full emotional energy. Yet anger and resentment can sap our strength. "One of the best ways to learn forgiveness," Miller says, "is to admit your own mistakes. We need to acknowledge when we want power or wish to hurt someone. It's easier to release others when we begin to look at our own shadow traits."
8. Keep your sense of humor. There's a Yiddish saying, "Want to make God laugh? Tell Him your plans." Resilient people see the absurdity in life. "Finding the humor in a situation makes it bearable."
9. Explore the full range of possibilities -- then persist. "New Zealander Janet Frame was told over and over again she couldn't write," notes Miller. "But she managed to survive many rejections and a lengthy hospitalization to publish works to critical acclaim."
10. Find meaning in the crisis. Resilient people turn to religion, ethics, philosophy, or spirituality to find a larger framework for their lives. Says Miller of the healing professions, "Most of us find added depth and meaning in our own experience as we dedicate ourselves to helping others."
11. Be willing to endure and enter fully into your suffering. Miller advises, "You need to say, 'I'm going to sit with this pain. Feel this anger. Live through this anguish. Then I am going to allow myself to fully feel the joy.' In the process, you expand your personality and learn not to be afraid of the big emotions."
12. Learn to stand alone, but don't be reluctant to reach out and rely on others. Says Miller, "This step is about our ability to join our vulnerability and our strength. It's pioneering work. We're in a new era in which men and women have to balance both the ability to assert themselves and to be receptive. If you can learn to integrate these two sides of yourself, you'll be more resilient in your partnership, in your parenting, and on the job."
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