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Resilience: What It Is and Is Not

Updated: Aug 16

Resilience is a capacity that we potentiate with lifelong practice. It is not a fixed characteristic.


Resilience is not about pushing through or soldiering on. It represents our ability to meet the challenges we encounter each day, trusting that we have the resources (both internal and external) to weather those challenges with the least amount of negative consequence to our bodies-hearts-souls.


Being resilient also means that we can hold space for whatever our experiences might be, regardless of what they look like from the outside.


Resilience doesn’t always look pretty. Sometimes it looks like us dissolving into a tantrum or a puddle of tears as we experience an extended moment of overwhelm. Sometimes it looks like us doubting our ability to handle or survive what we are encountering. But it also looks like us recognizing when we are activated or overwhelmed, honoring the appropriateness of that response, knowing that it means our capacity might feel “less than” or diminished in the moment, and still using whatever tools and strategies we can muster to support ourselves in that state of vulnerability.


We have to work to build our resilience. We have to work at it regularly. Resilience is strengthened when we recognize and normalize the brilliant ways in which our nervous system is working tirelessly on our behalf, first as a surveillance system alerting us to cues of lack of safety, and then through its ability to autonomically shift us into survival physiology whenever we feel exposed to threat/stress.


This dance is going on in ALL of our bodies, every single day of our lives. It is a human dance, a mammalian dance. Sometimes it is obvious, and sometimes, subtle. But it is always present.


Our bodies innately hold the potential for resilience, even when they feel frail and fragile and overwhelmed. Even when they feel “out of control.” Our invitation is to tap into that innate potential by learning how to work respectfully and in partnership with our bodies and their autonomic narratives.

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