I'm having a hard time developing resilience...

Hey Jake, I'm finding myself overwhelmed a lot lately, especially by external things outside of my control (the state of world, other people's emotions, etc). I'm trying to honor that feeling and hold it with acceptance and compassion, but I also want to not feel so shaken every time something happens/comes up. I guess I feel like I'm having a hard time developing resilience. Anything you've come across that might help?

Dear friend,

I hear your desire to hold your feelings of overwhelm with acceptance and compassion. That feels important. I also hear your desire to not feel so shaken everytime something comes up. Acceptance and compassion don’t necessarily work to help make us less reactive; they often help us integrate what’s going on in our lives.

Compassion and acceptance are excellent tools in that they offer us a kinder and more loving perspective when something is happening or after something has happened. We can accept the state of the world but that doesn’t change how we react and respond to it. We can accept how it shows up inside of us but that doesn’t always make the feelings smaller or more comfortable to experience. 

To me it seems as though stress might be a part of this equation. When something is causing us stress, we undergo a process of growth and transformation. Stress helps us grow through what we go through. Discomfort is naturally part of that process. For example, when we go to the gym to grow muscle or increase our strength, we put our body through a process of stress to get ourselves there. It doesn’t feel good but we somehow accept that this is part of that process. Sometimes taking stock of our stress, and our own capacity to hold and release it, can help us move through times of uncertainty.

You also mentioned having a hard time building more resilience. This is a common response when we notice that things aren’t working or we need more control in a situation; we convince ourselves that we need to become tougher and more resilient. I’m not personally convinced that we need more resilience during a time characterized by unprecedented newness. Do we need more resilience or do we need more permission for things to be hard? Do we need to overcome and conquer every single uncomfortable feeling we experience? Do we need more resilience or do we need more peace? 

In all of this, I hear you possibly needing more control and more grace. A normal response to discomfort is to move away from it or want to change it. 

What if this moment is simply characterized by hardship and a lack of control? What if that’s what this will be right now? Acceptance and compassion will continue to be helpful tools you will use throughout these difficult times. Keep doing what works and give yourself permission to give yourself what you need; sometimes that will be processing that discomfort and sometimes it will involve moving towards something that feels good. 

I also hear you really wanting an answer or a solution. Remember that you do not have to feel every feeling. Just because the feeling is alive inside you does not mean you have to address it. You do not have to solve this perfectly or become a person that responds with ease and perfection every single time. You are allowed to be human too.

I hope you take good care,

Jake