Redefining Resilience

Living fully, feeling it all, setting boundaries.

Photo by Nils Rasmusson on Unsplash

I was talking with a young friend the other day. She was bemoaning the fact that she seemed so much more sensitive to everything these days, and that she thought that getting older meant being more resilient.

I replied, “You are resilient.” 

And I went on, giving words to my own thoughts lately, about the true meaning of courage, resilience and growth.

To live this life takes courage. To live as fully as possible takes deep courage. To weather the storms of life, to feel the pain and the losses and the grief, takes courage.

It has been my experience that I become even more sensitive to everything as I continue on this path of aging. 

I feel the pain of others more. I feel the pain of the creatures that are slowly being killed to the point of extinction. I feel the pain of the earth and how much we have, and continue to, destroy her. I feel the sadness of people going through their own version of hell. Wars, violence, indescribable pain and sadness. 

I feel the pain of grief as it becomes my ever more frequent companion with the losses that keep coming. 

And I am still here.

I think that because I work to allow myself to feel as much of what is going on as I can, this makes me live more fully, be more present, and be more present to each moment. To live life fully and look all the pain and sadness in the eye takes courage. To feel the losses takes courage. To feel the joy and the wonder and to know that it is all fleeting and that there will come a time that we are no longer here to feel this, takes courage. 

It is not the idea of no longer feeling sensitive or pain that makes one resilient. It is knowing these parts of yourself and being at home with them. Knowing that it’s ok to feel them all. Knowing that this is one of the greatest gifts of being human. Knowing what to do when feelings flood over you. Knowing that it’s ok to take care of yourself.

I feel it all. 

And I also set boundaries so that I choose not to add feelings that I don’t need. Like being around someone who doesn’t nourish me, or being around those who, from their own wounded place, are painful for me to be around. Can I empathize? Yes. Do I need to take on their pain as my own? No. Do I need to accept pain inflicted on me because I understand where their attack is coming from? No.

I get to say yes to all the feelings. I get to have them be part of my experience in this human body. I get to say no to those that are not what I need or want in my life, when I have that choice. 

Getting older means putting up less with abuse from others.

Getting older means knowing what you want to accept and what you don’t.

Getting older means knowing that you have the right to say no, whenever and wherever you need that.

Getting older means feeling every piece of this precious life with every fiber of your being. Feeling it all to the point that it can bring you to tears of joy. 

Getting older means thinner skin and less boundaries to the pain around us.

More boundaries to what we don’t need to inflict upon ourselves. 

Less boundaries to pure love, awe and wonder at this life.

More boundaries to all that is not that important, things that we were taught to focus on and worry about. Things, that in the long run, really don’t matter as you face the end of your life. 

You are resilient. You survived your childhood, which was not perfect, given that your parents were human too.

You survived each and every one of your traumas, which we all have. It is part of this roller coaster ride that we are on. Everyone has a story.

You survived and have come to where you are now. You are still alive.

And you feel it all. What a sacred gift that is. You breathe life in and out. You are present on this earth. You are connected to others around you. You give and receive love. 

You get hurt. And you make it through. You feel joy. And it passes as well.

If you are an elder, you are facing aging and the challenges that this brings. And you wake up each day and go on. Grateful for the bittersweetness of it all. 

You are alive. You are human. And you are so very resilient. 

2 thoughts on “Redefining Resilience

  1. Thank you, Jo, for this piece. Helps me to experience all there is in front of me. I too, see others’ pain and struggles, including the earth’s animals more than I’ve ever seen. Must be the wisdom that comes with living. Wishing you a wonderous day.

    Liked by 1 person

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