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Building resilience through awareness

“Life doesn’t get easier or more forgiving, we get stronger and more resilient.” – Steve Maraboli, “Life, The Truth, And Being Free”

The Oxford Dictionary definition of resilience is, “The capacity to withstand or recover quickly from difficulties.”. I would like to offer an additional definition, “the measurement between victimhood where you lack resilience, and empowerment, where you are resilient”, i.e. how resilient are you? As you slide from victimhood up towards empowerment you become more resilient. This is the gradual process where you develop tools to deal with the world around you and the experiences you have within.

There are a lot of reasons why we lack the tools to be resilient. When we find ourselves in a state of victimhood, we are essentially in a state of low-energy vibration. This is where we can’t let go of the narrative that we’ve created to define our identity within our story and our lives. We externalise our entire spectrum of experiences removing our ability to realise our roles in our experiences. Putting a distance between ourselves and our experiences causes us to blame external factors for our circumstances; we can’t realise accountability if we don’t realise we have a hand in our reality. In this process, we externalise control of our circumstances. The tools we develop are all focused on protecting ourselves from the external factors that are a threat to us, i.e. we compound the problem and perpetuate the victimhood while tricking ourselves into believing we are getting stronger.

Evidently, we have choices as to what path we take embarking on this journey towards resilience and empowerment. One path, as described above, will be a reflection of our shadow or ego aspect of ourselves where we find strength in our anger, shame, guilt, apathy, etc., but they’re all in the lower spectrum of vibration. The idea of resiliency at these levels is to control your experiences with force expressed outwards. Anybody who gets in our way is a threat and we are separate from them, so they become “collateral damage” in our pursuit of resiliency. This, like the reality construct that we think is our experience, is an illusion and we get stuck in a loop; empowerment is not available at these lower levels, only enforcement, which creates lower vibrations, resulting in more forcefulness. The alternative is to become consciously aware of our experiences and what they are. On this path, we don’t see the reality construct outside of ourselves as the experience but rather just as a reflection of the internal emotions and feelings that are building blocks of the real experience. When we choose to become consciously aware of our own experiences we become aware of our role in our own experiences. We can start building resiliency tools to control that which we can control; our thoughts, our words and our actions. This perspective brings with it accountability, not blame, without shame and guilt. It allows us to become accepting of ourselves and everything around us in our reality construct. We accept the external and connect with it, without attachment or judgement. Choosing this path is to choose growth and evolution.

Empowerment is all about shifting perspectives and understanding what our true experience is. To shift perspectives we need to open up to the possibility that there are more than one truth and that we can allow ourselves to look at the reality construct from different angles. Consider, for example, you have a body as opposed to you are a body. We simply move some words around and our idea of self suddenly shifts 180 degrees. We allow ourselves to be taken away from the identification in the physical reality to perceive ourselves from our consciousness. Once we start looking at ourselves and our existence from this perspective, we can then start to understand the multi-dimensionality that we are. From this aspect I can now consider from what perspective we experience life:

  • Mind
  • Heart
  • Observer
  • Past experiences
  • External locus of evaluation
  • Any other intangible aspects of ourselves

When we experience ourselves from our mind we take the analytical approach and judge our experiences by our external senses and set those as our experience. In the heart-centred approach, we use our capacity for love and compassion to explore our internal experience as a reflection of the external. Depending on our progress in healing from this perspective we might put ourselves in a place of victimhood where others easily take advantage of us, but through empowerment, this can become a source of strength. When we become the observer we have an overview of all the other aspects of ourselves and can engage with our experiences without judgement or attachment. The perspective of our past experiences is our karmic energy and stems from our traumas. Triggers will invite us to react to our current external experiences from these past experiences. Often we revert to the individual we are at that time with the toolset we had and act out that perspective in the present moment, which often has some very chaotic effects on our circumstances. When we judge ourselves and our experiences from the perspective of others around us, using the external locus of evaluation, we make assumptions about how others see us and we experience ourselves from that judgement. Ultimately, it is helpful to always observe our experiences to bring purity to them and remove suffering through judgement. However, as part of our healing journey, it is critical to be aware of from what perspective we are experiencing ourselves will give us an understanding of the aspects of ourselves that need to be healed.

Questioning our motives and reality and thus shifting our perspective starts the process to understand what reality is and who we truly are. The journey towards empowerment isn’t about using brute force to elbow our way through life, but rather to shift into empowerment that attracts the world to us. A difficult, but very useful exercise I learned through a deep dive is to view your life from the perspective of your deathbed and ask yourself the question, “what am I willing to sacrifice to be right?”, when you’re ready, your value “being right” will change. To keep on the path and to check in so that we don’t veer off course, I like to use doctor David Hawkins’ map of consciousness. His map, in my opinion, directly correlates to the journey from victimhood towards empowerment and resilience. The lower parts are more resonant with anger, guilt, shame, etc., and the higher levels are where love, acceptance, compassion, forgiveness and gratitude exist. As we are triggered by external experiences activating the defence mechanisms that we’ve learned from our traumas in our lives there is another very useful tool that Nicholas Janni has taught us which is to “drop the narrative”. The “narrative” is the domain of the mind the shadow of the ego where we create an external story for our internal experiences. It attaches us to the notion that our internal experiences are controlled by external forces. When you have an emotion rising and it activates the mental process of explaining why this emotion exists or placing blame for it on external forces, tell yourself to drop the narrative and stay with the emotion. Once there, we can observe the emotion and allow it to communicate its message to us. Without attachment through judgement, nothing is holding the emotion in the body and it can now be released. When we understand that the external experience is merely a mirror of our internal reaction we can then drop the narrative and show gratitude for the experience. Separating the memory of an experience from the emotion is the resolving moment of healing. Once the narrative ceases to have power over us we can freely release the emotion.

Shifting our perspective away from the old paradigm narrative and understanding that resilience is not to be equated with toughness will bring calm to societal chaos. The tools we collect are with us to help us heal our past experiences and to deal with present and future experiences. When we have moved through our process of empowerment, healed all there is to heal and we’re fully in observance of our own experiences where we’re not judging anything good or bad, black or white, hot or cold etc., we find ourselves in a state of enlightenment, or for the purpose of this discussion, absolute empowerment. Be mindful that on this journey towards empowerment, we oftentimes encounter impatience because we intellectually know where we’re going and want to get there as soon as possible. For these times it is important to return to trusting the process and knowing that the practice you put in is what going to get you the results. Resilience is not something that comes by itself; it’s something we work on with the tools and skills and practises that would develop. However, at the end of the day it is our choice are we approach and pursue resilience, so choose wisely.

Photo by Benjamin Patin on Unsplash

Article Name
Resilience is not only the destination but also a measure of your journey towards empowerment, building tools to become resilient.
Publisher Name
The Alchemy Experience
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