Resilience: Rising Every Time We Fall



” The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” Nelson Mandela

Have you ever noticed that those among us who live the hardest lives, tend to be the most resilient in spirit?  There was a time in my life where I used to look at those with wholly unscathed lives and feel wistful. Oh what it must be like to have one of those shiny pretty lives where every challenge has a quick fix. I think this is a fallacy most of us entertain at some point in our lives- and I suppose there are some who hold on to it forever. But in truth- the people who get through these lives cleanly- without any scrapes, probably remain fairly unchanged. We do not come here to keep the status quo and remain unchanged… we come here to grow.

I have lived long enough to have a deep and abiding respect for the storms of life. Not that I call them in-I do not…but I try not to curse them.  I accept the storms that find me, give them my respect, and let them teach me. Part of what has honed my philosophy are the many years I have spent working as a helping professional. Because my practice specialty has been assisting those facing difficult transitions, I have been privy to some truly excruciating stories-things that make the every day pains that the majority of us face seem truly inconsequential. What I have come to believe is that difficult experiences can either cause us to live up or live down.  My specialty as a therapist has been to help people to find a way to ‘live up’ after life has knocked them down.  I absolutely believe the clients I have known are some of the strongest and most evolved people on the planet. They are also among the most tested- many of them facing tragedies that are life defining.

Consider the difficulties that you have known in your life. Have some of them made you  ‘live up?’  If you could go back and change them, would you? It’s an interesting question that has no obvious answer. At this point in my own life, I try to accept my lessons and work on navigating gracefully through them, rather than trying to find a way to undo or redo anything. I often visualize life sending teachers to my door- and each time I refuse one of these teachers entrance into my world, I end up getting a replacement teacher that is bigger and more treacherous than the last.

Today’s wise statement from Nelson Mandela offers  a  way to re-envision our difficulties and embrace the art of resilience;  We fall only so that we can rise even higher when we stand back up.