Resilience.  We hear that term a lot, especially in regards to kids in a divorce.  “Oh kids are resilient” we hear, from the parent that sees them 50% of the time, thus making them feel better about the divorce.  We hear it when someone goes through trauma, has cancer or experiences a physical setback – “She’s resilient and will make it through.”

What do you think resilience is?  When you think of it you think essentially that something bad has happened and the person will spring back.  It’s the springing back that defines the resilience, isn’t it?  We imagine that someone’s life, their psyche, their experiences are like a stretchy sheet, or a flexible physical support.  It takes a hit, or bends a bit, and then it springs back.  Sometimes it springs back in direct proportion to how far it was forced to bend.  Someone becomes extremely unhealthy and a cascade of health issues ensue, directly related to a lot of weight gain.  This person then bounces back and becomes almost an expert on nutrition, working out and health in general.  They lose all the unhealthy weight and then put on muscle, build their stamina and even stave off health issues.

Someone goes through a horrible divorce and learns much more than the average person about relationships, themselves and life in general.  They even end up helping those in abusive relationships.  Maybe they create a dating site.

The all sprung back.


So why is it a system?  I know, I’m the guy that sees systems in everything.  You’re welcome.  It’s a system for two reasons.

A system instead of a reaction

If someone reacts to a hardship or a setback with a one time, knee-jerk reaction they are just pushing back on discomfort.  They may fix the issue, but in all likelihood they overreact and learn nothing.  This over reaction is suspiciously like springing back, right?  Kind of looks the same – bad thing happens, do something that not only fixes, but snaps back to over do it, yes?  If you just react then you will just see it happen and happen again.  If you regard it as a system, you assess what happened, why it happened, and how to prevent it in the future.  You may even learn something about your part in why it keeps happening.

Compare the two:

Reaction – I keep attracting douchebags.  I guess I have some sort of douchebag sensor eh?  hahaha.  Suffer and repeat.  Oh well.  I guess I’m just destined for that.

System – I seem to attract douchebags.  After looking at it seriously, and considering my part in it, I realized that I really liked their confidence.  The problem was this confidence was really arrogance.  I’ve learned to tell the difference and now I feel I’m still attracted to that same confidence, I just filter out the arrogance and no more douchebags.

Resilience is People!

Everything is connected.  Your mood, your actions, are all connected to those you interact with.  Your coworkers, your family, your significant others, your clients, your vendors and even the people who serve you a beer or over priced coffee all play a part in your mood and actions, and you in theirs.  Therefore, when you are going through a hardship it affects the webwork of people you deal with.  Just like when you have a friend going through a setback you tend to compensate – like the good friend you are – by asking them what’s wrong, distracting them by taking them out for a drink, or just making a call now and then.  Maybe you even watch their kids while they get out finally for a breather.  We sometimes call this a support group.  But calling it that sounds like it’s an option.  It shouldn’t be.  Unfortunately it is, due to choices or circumstances.

You can only be so resilient by yourself.  I learned this the hard way.  Going through a divorce in which my kids were with me full time, and having little to almost no support group made it extremely difficult to spring back.

Reach out

Whoever you know, your friends, your family – those important to you and even those you know peripherally – they are all connected in the web of resilience.   Each is activated in their own way dictated by your relationship, their and your personality.  Those people are in turn connected with others, etc. etc. and etc.  This may border on philosophical but it’s not hard to imagine, from even a systemic view, that our kindness to those in our close circle affects those far removed from us – like ripples in a pond.

You really have two tasks.

Do not be oblivious to those around you in need.  I’m not talking about putting change in a bucket as your ears are assaulted by a bell that is way too loud for the 10×10 area in which it’s being rung.  I’m talking about your friends, your loved one and others.  The tiny bit of consideration you give is another thread in the web of support and thus strengthens their resilience.   Those in need are not in a position to make an appointment with you to discuss how much they need you. It is your job to be there for them, to be a bother and an pest, to push hard until they push back.  And they probably won’t, because they need you.

When you are in need, when you are going through a hard time do not forget that those around you help you to strengthen your resilience. When they ask you what is wrong, tell them.  Do not let pride get in the way.  The same goes for fear, or embarrassment.   Yes, there are those you may consider being part of your group that turn out are not.  Those who didn’t read the above paragraph.  They prefer to stay in a closed bubble, thinking we all exist without any kind of connection.  You cannot change that now, in your present position.  You can only understand, moving forward that they are not a strand in your web.

All you can do is rely on your web of support, your web of resilience.  And when it is your turn, remember what it was like to pull on a strand only to find it wasn’t connected.