"She stood in the storm
and when the wind did not blow her away,
she adjusted her sails."
Charles Krauthammer, who was a Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for the Washington Post, died earlier this summer. He was by no means a political kindred spirit of mine, but I was drawn to read more about his life. I didn't know until recently that he was paralyzed in a diving accident when he was a first year medical student. With the help of many, but one professor in particular, he graduated from medical school and became a psychiatrist. He later became a political columnist.
The Washington Post opened their archives and I read some of his columns. One he wrote about resilience. In it, he talks about Roy Hobbs, the hero of Bernard Malamud’s “The Natural,” a baseball prodigy who tries to return to the game after being shot.
“No one knows why Hobbs is shot,” he wrote. “It is fate, destiny, nemesis. Perhaps the dawning of knowledge, the coming of sin. Or more prosaically, the catastrophe that awaits everyone from a single false move, wrong turn, fatal encounter. Every life has such a moment. What distinguishes us is whether — and how — we ever come back.”
I have been thinking more about trauma and how it changes lives. As Dr. Krauthammer says, "every life has such a moment.". I have had mine. You have had yours. I feel comfort knowing that, as Robin Roberts' mother told her when she was diagnosed with cancer, "everybody's got something". Knowing that bad things happen to all of us, that it is part of the human condition, somehow feels better than isolating with the idea that it only happened to me.
And I've been thinking about resilience too. Here's a simple definition. Resilience is being able to become strong, healthy or successful again after something bad happens. Bouncing back. Getting back up and moving forward. Resilience is understanding that the future will not be like the past.
Learning from what's happened. Perspective taking. Staying flexible. Adapting to the reality in front of you. Remembering what matters to you and moving towards it. Connecting with others, we are not alone.
And at the risk of being a Pollyanna, life can be better on the other side of trauma. While it can seem so bleak in the vortex of the emotions that swirl around a traumatic event, I have seen how the very awfulness of the event, how when everything you thought you could count on was suddenly not there, that upending of what feels like everything, can become the very thing that allows you to start again. New and yet more you than you've ever been. Fresh but not naive. Wiser but not cynical. Allowing experience to make us more of who we already are, that's resilience. :-)
"......have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and
.....try to love the questions themselves,
as if they were locked rooms
or books written in a very foreign language.
Don't search for the answers,
could not be given to you now,
because you would not be able to live them.
And the point is, to live everything.
Live the questions now.
Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it,
live your way into the answer."
I love this quote :-) I've always collected quotes that resonate for me, I wrote this one down in college. I have never really settled on one place to keep all these quotes, so I'm often finding something written on a post-it note, or a torn sheet of paper or the back of a phone message. And these bits are scattered in folders that I haven't looked at in years. It's interesting to me to see which quotes are in which folders, trying to remember what about that time in my life made a particular quote stand out.
For this Rilke quote, I remember it was an especially confusing time in my life, approaching graduation and not having a clear way forward. A friend gave me this quote and I loved it. And I also remember that I felt frustrated by it, what does that mean, live your way into the answer??? Just tell me and then I'll relax! :-) But reading it now, I can see the wisdom of it even more than I could then. And I still love it. And it doesn't feel frustrating anymore. It just feels true.
I'm posting a link to this article I just read about ACT and how we can use values to keep moving forward when the slog gets tough. Enjoy :-)
If you've been reading lately, you know I've been excited to share more about what I'm learning about ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy). A lot of what ACT does is offer you a way to change your relationship with your thoughts.
Now, I'm guessing that phrasing sounds funny to you, "changing your relationship with your thoughts". What exactly is that?
We are not our thoughts.
I am not my thoughts.
You are not your thoughts.
There is more to you and me than what we think.
I've recommended the book, "The Happiness Trap" to you in an earlier post. One way that the author, Russ Harris, helps to make this idea, of changing your relationship to your thoughts, more clear is to look at thoughts as a string of words. So,
words on a page of a book (or on this blog post) are called text.
Words said out loud are called speech.
Words in our minds are called thoughts.
Thinking this way helps you to see that just like words in a book are not the book, thoughts in our minds are not us.
Can you see how this way of looking at thoughts helps create a bit of distance between you and your thoughts?
Well, that distance is a powerful way of helping you feel less controlled by what you think at any given moment. Practicing this helps to cultivate more of your observer self, the constant part of you that is more than what you think or feel.
Being able to see things with some objectivity helps you make decisions more based on all of you, and what you most value, not just what you are feeling or thinking in the moment.
Powerful! Try it, let me know how it works for you. :-)
“A good beginning makes a good end.” –English Proverb
“We have it in our power to begin the world over again.” –Thomas Paine
“Something is going to come out of this. Something new. This can end you up in a whole new place—a better place, a much more open place.” -Pema Chodron
“This is a new year. A new beginning. And things will change.” ― Taylor Swift
"The beginning is the most important part of the work." – Plato
“The secret to a rich life is to have more beginnings than endings.” -Dave Weinbaum
“You will never win if you never begin.” – Robert H. Schuller
“Do not wait until the conditions are perfect to begin. Beginning makes the conditions perfect.”- Alan Cohen
I love this quote from a 2006 commencement speech by Stephen Colbert at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois:
“Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it is the farthest thing from it. Because cynics don’t learn anything.
Because cynicism is a self-imposed blindness, a rejection of the world because we are afraid it will hurt us or disappoint us.
Cynics always say no.
But saying ‘yes’ begins things. Saying ‘yes’ is how things grow. Saying ‘yes’ leads to knowledge. ‘Yes’ is for young people.
So for as long as you have the strength to, say ‘yes.’”
Open hearted. ♥ Try it. Take a chance. Experiment. Nice.
My name is Carol J. Tadeusik. I am a licensed psychologist in Durham, North Carolina. I invite you to read my blog and get to know me and a bit about how I think. And by the way, I love comments!
Click here for Topics