New Concepts in Resilience
In our last blog I talked about facing change and the role of resilience. Resilience was defined as the ability for one to face a challenge and recover quickly. However, it should be noted that resilience is not only an ability to create positive outcomes of one’s difficult experiences, but also includes one’s ability to locate resources and support and continue to move forward. Resources can be any number of things such as physical materials, spiritual activities, or therapeutic interventions. One of the strongest resources for building and sustaining resilience are social connections—the people you know, the friends you have made, and others with whom you have relationships. Together, people can encourage and support one another rather than allowing difficult situations to create a divide that supports negativity and separation.
Resilience through Relationships
Relational resilience includes recovering from stressful events, but also entails a transformational process in which one moves through a challenging circumstance and the end result is not only personal transformation, but enhanced relationships, growth and even social change. Imagine facing some of your biggest challenges with a like-minded group of people supporting you? Imagine the final outcome being not only “getting to the other side” of a difficult situation, but experiencing a transformation that has the potential to impact not only you, but society in general? Sounds great, right? In this way, resilience is not about surviving and recovering, but about personal and community growth.
Building Relational Resilience
So, what does it take to build relational resilience? According to Judith Jordan (2012), Assistant Professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and author of Relational-Cultural Therapy, it requires courage, empowerment, and empathetic mutuality. Courage to show up, face the challenge and take risks; the ability to positively influence one's own experiences and others; and trustful and respectful relationships where each person is encouraged to grow and contribute to the growth of others are the goals to strive for when building relational resilience.
This isn’t to say that there won’t be conflict within relationships or communities because there will be. However, it’s important to include reconnection after conflict or disagreement in order to foster the development of resilience. And this can require courage as well as vulnerability... and can be difficult, indeed. However, when a relationship or community is focused on the components of relational resilience, healing and reconnection are more easily attained.
As we are seeing the numbers of confirmed cases of Corona virus rise (and we know that there are many more unconfirmed cases out there) it is relational resilience that will best enable us all to face the changes to come. I encourage you to reflect on the status of your community. Who are your people? Why have you chosen them? Does your community value courage, respect and empathy? What are the ways your community members are supporting each other during this time? Not sure? Then perhaps, you might need to take the first (virtual) step!
Got any ideas on what steps you might take to build your community during this period of social isolation? Comment below!